Funny Business with Jane Wells

Where's The Beef In This Business?

Meat Card

There's a fledging company with an outrageously unusual product coming to market.

It's business cards...made out of beef jerky.

I think it's hysterical and could be a hit. I may also be insane.

MeatCards laser your personal information onto a piece of beef jerky. But you can't eat it. Yet. More on that in a minute.

Chris Thompson is helping to launch the company. He's a graphics manager for a Pennsylvania promotional company. "They don't treat me well, but they have a laser," he says, joking, kinda. 

Thompson is friends with three web designers: John Young (maker of the Nerd Merit Badges), Will Ronco, and Randy Schmidt. Last April, the three were chatting online as Schmidt asked for a website to print business cards. Then Ronco starting musing about "sweet" business cards, and Schmidt had a brainstorm--"OMG EDIBLE BUSINESS CARDS!" After Ronco suggested something meaty like jerky, Young screamed in all caps: "BEEF JERKY!!!!!!" Young brought Chris Thompson into the mix, and he immediately made a prototype. They had a website and business plan in 24 hours.

Meat Cards

To generate buzz, the group launched the "MeatCards Alpha Tester Challenge,"  encouraging people to compete for the opportunity to test the product. Entrants were required to photographically recreate one of three paintings by science fiction and fantasy artist Frank Frazetta --"Moon Men," "Fire and Ice" or "Cornered." The 15 best entries won MeatCards. Here's my favorite entry, Frazetta's "Cornered" recreated by people who clearly have way too much time on their hands.

The cards aren't yet edible because of the laser. "When we hit it big," Thompson says, "we can buy a food-only laser and then advertise them as edible." Meantime, the cards apparently smell great. The company is buying its jerky from Werner's in Oregon, and they're hoping to work the "American made" aspect of the product into its price. Look for the launch soon. Price TBA.

"I don't get it," said my husband as I was explaining the MeatCards concept. "It's funny!" I told him. "Can you eat them?" "No." "I don't get it." He may have a point.

Meat Cards

But here's why Thompson and his MeatCards colleagues have hope. First, business cards have become somewhat unnecessary. "My iPhone can email you my contact info, who needs a paper card?" he tells me. "Business cards are a token to be exchanged." MeatCards are supposed to be unique tokens. Plus, "We need more things to make people happy." And whenever you can finally eat them, they'll make a great snack "in case the Apocalypse strikes, and your contacts need emergency nourishment."

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