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You Can Thank Iowa For The Bloody Mary Meat Straw

The story behind the bloody mary's ultimate garnish revealed.

Benny's Original Meat Straws/Facebook
Brenna Houck is a Cities Manager for the Eater network. She previously edited Eater Detroit and reported for Eater. You can follow her on the internet at @brennahouck.

Bloody marys have long served as the perfect vehicle for unusual garnishes — from whole fried chickens to burgers on a stick. But one company is has managed to corner the market on a particularly unusual accouterment — the bloody mary meat straw. According to NPR, Iowa-based Benny's Original Meat Straws is making a small fortune off the strangely brilliant novelty straw that infuses meaty goodness into every spicy mary sip.

The concepts came to life back in 2009, inventor Ben Hirko explains. He was tending a nearly empty bar in a snowstorm and decided to pour himself a drink. One couple sitting at the bar had brought beef sticks as a snack, and "after a few beers, I reached over and grabbed one of the snack sticks," he says. With a stroke of (maybe) brilliance, Hirko proceeded to dig a hole through the center of the meat stick."I held it up to the guy that was there... and I looked him in the eye, right through the hole, and I said, 'That's awesome.' And he looked at me and said, 'Yes, it is.'" Thus the meat straw was born.

Since that day, Hirko has managed to prove skeptics wrong by turning meat straws into a surprisingly profitable business. His fist big break came when the concessions contractor for the Detroit Lions stadium contacted him about adding the meat straws to their Hail Mary Bloody Mary. Last year, Benny's sold approximately 30,000 meat straws through stadium concessions and has since worked out deals with teams like the Washington Nationals baseball team. Hirko has since sold his company to a larger firm, who must have spotted the brunch-fueled dollar signs in his product.