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Sixth Anniversary of the Jerky Heart: Tough Love/Tender Jerky

Valentine’s Day always makes me feel nostalgic.  Six years ago I introduced the Jerky Heart to the world.  At the time I pictured Mel Gibson, with blue face paint, endorsing the Jerky Heart.


Tough Love! Tender Jerky! I want a Jerky Heart!

From a product introduction standpoint, it was an evolutionary dead-end, but to this day, if I worked out something out with Mel, I’d be bonefishing in the Bahamas now!

(My favorite line is about those kids who “can chew on it for a couple of days”.)

Nothing says love like heart-shaped jerky
A specialty grilling shop cooks up an unusual gift for Valentine’s Day.
Matt VandeBunte / The Grand Rapids Press

ROCKFORD — Candy hearts a bit too cute? A dozen roses not quite right? How about a hunk of meat? They’re selling “tough love” this Valentine’s season at The Outdoor Cook, a specialty grilling shop in Rockford. Quarter-pound slabs of jerky hand-cut (with love) into the shape of a heart, then smoked with flavor to give that special guy the perfect gift. The hearts come in two varieties — extra lean beef or jalapeno turkey — and are wrapped in a special gift box tied with red ribbon. “A lot of guys would be embarrassed if they got something too sweet,” store owner John Rumery said. “So here’s some tough love. “Everybody thinks Valentine’s Day is just for the ladies. There has never been a good gift for guys.”

Taru Nieminen heard about the jerky hearts and rushed in to buy a couple for her two children, a 9-year-old boy and an 11-year-old girl. The hearts are much more exciting than the typical box of chocolates, she said, and longer lasting than balloons. “This one they probably can chew on for a couple of days,” Nieminen said. “It’s totally different. I always try to get something different, instead of what everybody else gets.” Rumery said The Outdoor Cook, like any small business, has to be more creative than large retailers. He hopes the store has hit the mark with its jerky hearts. It has sold nearly 100 since Rumery e-mailed the idea to a customer list earlier this week. “People started calling and saying ‘Give me some tough love!’ ” The Valentine’s jerky hearts sell for $4.95 at The Outdoor Cook, 251 Northland Drive NE in Rockford. They can be ordered by calling the store at 863-9411.


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