Seltzer’s Smokehouse Meats is expanding its product line this summer for the first time ever, and hopes to take its new line of grab-and-go beef snacks national.

In the next few months, Seltzer’s will roll out new beef jerky and beef stick products for wide distribution.

The jerky will be available in 3-ounce packages available in Double Smoked Sweet, Sweet Chipotle, and Sweet Bologna flavors. The jerky is made by taking the company’s existing bologna and dehydrating it.

Mockup of the retail packaging for Seltzer’s upcoming beef jerky products. Seltzer’s will offer the beef jerky in Double Smoked Sweet, Sweet Chipotle, and (the classic) Sweet Bologna flavors. (Provided photo)

An informal LebTown taste test of the Double Smoked Sweet and Sweet Chipotle flavors saw two thumbs up from our reviewer – the Sweet Chipotle flavor had the sweeter flavor of the two and a mild heat that lingered for a moment, while the Double Smoked had a drier and (as you might have guessed) smokier flavor.

Seltzer’s hopes to roll out its new beef jerky products to stores in the next few months. In addition to grocery store distribution, the company also expects the beef jerky to be sold in gas stations and convenience stores including Sheetz and Rutter’s.

The beef sticks, already distributed to deli counters, will be available in new two-piece packages intended for convenience store distribution. The beef sticks have a slightly different flavor profile and recipe because they need to be less lean for shelf stability. Seltzer’s plans to make beef sticks available in sweet, spicy, and original flavors.

While the jerky has only been distributed in very limited quantities, including at the Seltzer’s booth during this year’s Pennsylvania Farm Show, the beef sticks are already out in the market in bigger size packs.

All the products are based on the two primary items the Palmyra-based company has manufactured for more than a century: its Lebanon bologna and sweet bologna. If that sentence brings to mind a pink lunchmeat out of an Oscar Meyer commercial, well we recommend stopping this article and finding your nearest grocer to try some real Lebanon bologna.

Seltzer’s Lebanon bologna was the brainchild of Harvey Seltzer, who came up with the blend of beef and spices that became a Lebanon delicacy. The Pennsylvania Dutch figure in the logo is known affectionately to Seltzer’s employees as “Mr. Whiskers.” (Will Trostel)

“A lot of people get mixed up outside of this area,” said Perry Smith, a longtime Seltzer’s employee who today consults on the company’s sales strategy, of the confusion between Lebanon bologna and its less distinguished bologna brethren.

Seltzer’s bologna is 92% beef and 8% salt, sugar, and spices, with Seltzer’s taking the raw beef, coarse grinding it, seasoning it, and then smoking it in old-fashioned smokehouses for a few days.

Smith pointed LebTown to a behind-the-scenes look at the manufacturing process produced by ABC last fall (embedded below) as an example of how this tried-and-trued approach continues to win over new generations of consumers to the Seltzer’s product.

“The only product we ever made was Lebanon and sweet Lebanon bologna,” said Smith.

Read More: World may have changed, but Lebanon bologna has remained the same

The main thing different about Seltzer’s production today as compared to previous generations is just how much of it the company produces. While the company has for a long time sold bologna wholesale to be merchandised by grocers with private labels – think Kroger, A&P and Safeway – the “travel label” business has seen relative declines from a peak of 35 to 40% of the company’s business to just 5 to 10% as Seltzer’s brand has gone national.

The smokehouse on the east side of the plant. (Will Trostel)

Read More: To meet surge in demand, Seltzer’s ramps-up production, hires temps

Today, Seltzer’s bologna can be found in its branded packages at grocery stores up and down the East Coast, including Walmart, Aldi, Lidl, FoodLion, Harris Teeter, Winn-Dixie, and Kroger. As national distribution has expended, Seltzer’s remains as popular ever locally, with 70 to 80% of the company’s business done within Central Pennsylvania at local chains like Giant and Weis.

For more information about Seltzer’s and to find a store that carries its products, visit their website.

Seltzer’s Smokehouse Meats in Palmyra, as seen from the sky. (Will Trostel)

Questions about this story? Suggestions for a future LebTown article? Reach our newsroom using the contact form below and we’ll do our best to get back to you.

Do you support local news?
If you believe that Lebanon County needs independent, high-quality journalism, consider joining LebTown as a member. Your support will go directly towards stories like this and you will be helping ensure that our community has a reliable news source for years to come.

Learn more about membership and join now here.