Whittington's Jerky is based in Johnson City, where it's sold at Whittington's Jerky General Store. The store has become somewhat of a tourist destination, and Whittington said it's rare for customers to leave the establishment without making a purchase.
She's proud of the business she and her husband have built and noted that their "high-quality, high-end" jerky is smoked for 16 hours in one of the company's six smokehouses — each modeled after the original smokehouses D.J. Whittington used in the '60s.
“When we built our new facility, we replicated the smokehouses exactly, right down to the size of the brick,” Whittington said. “We were afraid that changing anything would change the jerky's flavor.”
Although the Whittington's Jerky clientele is varied, the family has long supported a special market: military personnel.
“We've always tried to be there for our troops,” Whittington said. “For example, we offer free shipping twice a year to anyone with an APO or FPO address.”
Other programs targeted toward the military are Soldiers' Angels and Sticks for Pics. Under the Soldiers' Angels program, individuals can buy a pound or more of jerky for our troops, and military chaplains distribute it overseas.
“One soldier wrote to tell us that she was depressed and dirty in a foxhole in northern Iraq, but she knew she was going to make it when she saw a box of Whittington's Jerky among the rations being delivered,” Whittington said.
Under the Sticks for Pics program, soldiers who send in photos of themselves in uniform holding a bag of Whittington's Jerky are mailed a quarter-pound of jerky free.
The program is extremely popular: Every inch of a 20-foot-long wall in the Whittington's Jerky General Store is covered in photos.
SOURCE: Ronda Templeton is a freelance writer and the founder of Templeton Davidson Communications. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.