Farm Bureau members Jolene Pisel and her husband, Kirk, launched JoKir’s Wild Beef to sell their premium, Iowa corn-fed beef directly to customers.
Now JoKir’s Wild Beef is looking to expand its market with a new skinless beef brat, called the CYburdog. The name is a mash-up of Iowa State University Cyclones, burgers and the food’s hot dog shape.
Pisel developed the new ground beef product with the help of students through Iowa State University’s (ISU) Agriculture Entrepreneurship Initiative. ISU’s licensing department agreed to co-brand the skinless beef brat and put Cy on the label.
The Pisels grow corn and soybeans and raise Black Angus cattle on a Century Farm near Gilmore City that’s been in Kirk’s family since 1892.
The Pisels feed the cattle with the corn they grow, then market the cattle to Lewright Meats, a family-owned meat locker and smokehouse in downtown Eagle Grove.
It was on the drive home from Lewrights’ that Pisel came up with the idea for JoKir’s Wild to direct market their family’s beef.
“That’s the ‘wild’ part of the name, because it was just a wild idea and I ran with it,” Pisel says with a laugh. (The name is also another mash-up, standing for Jolene and Kirk.)
Pisel said she wanted to sell directly to customers to set their own prices and help even out the ups and downs in the commodity cattle markets.
Pisel also noted that, at the time, many grocery stores had stopped offering premium or prime beef because customers were spending less during the recession.
“I was hearing a lot of complaints about the type of beef you get at the grocery store. So the people who wanted something better, I wanted them to have that opportunity,” Pisel said.
“I always tell everybody, before we tried to please the public, we were pleasing us. And we are beef snobs around here,” she added.
The JoKir’s Wild dry-aged ribeye steaks are the most popular item, but that left the Pisels with a need to sell more ground beef. So they turned to their friend, Ray Hansen, an ISU Extension and Outreach value-added agriculture specialist. Hansen connected the Pisels to the ISU Ag Entrepreneurship Initiative’s internship program.
The interns helped redesign the JoKir’s Wild website and helped Pisel come up with the idea for the CYburdog, using ground beef.
Pisel developed 12 different recipes for the CYburdog and asked the ISU students and others to try out the recipes. They narrowed the recipes down to six varieties and then took the CYburdogs to ISU’s Ag Day, asking students and faculty to taste-test the skinless beef brats and vote for their favorites.
Once again, they narrowed it down to three varieties, which are now in production: fireworks, which is the jalapeno cheddar brat; teriyaki, with teriyaki sauce and French fried onions; and patriotic, with red onions, blue cheese and ranch dressing.
Pisel and the ISU interns are working to introduce the CYburdogs to Ames- and Des Moines-area grocery stores, restaurants and sports venues.
In the meantime, the CYburdogs are currently available in Pisel’s on-farm store and online. The store also offers JoKir’s Wild steaks, beef patties, ground beef, beef sticks and more.The Iowa Dish