Beef jerky – the gas station snack staple – is getting an image and taste makeover! It’s becoming moister, healthier and fancier – with flavors like basil citrus and lemon garlic.

So why does beef jerky need to go upscale? Because its customer is changing. Sure truck drivers and 20-year-old guys are still happy to snap into a Slim Jim, but yoga moms and marathon runners may not be. They love jerky for the 20-grams of protein per serving, not the unhealthy image it has.

But as far as fast snacks go, you could do a lot worse than beef jerky. We already talked about the protein content – which can help you feel full longer – but it’s also really low-calorie, has almost zero fat and it’s basically a one-ingredient snack. The downside is the sodium – it has double the sodium of a bag of chips. But on the plus side, it’s not going to turn into sugar once you start digesting it – so it’ll give you lasting energy. That’s why sales of “meat snacks” have grown 13% in the last year – with 140 new products on store shelves. It’s having such a moment that some jerky manufacturers are calling it “the Greek Yogurt for men.”

Plus, it’s getting healthier – the new “rehabilitated” versions have removed the MSG, corn syrup, and nitrates. And it’s moving out of the gas station quickie mart – and into gourmet stores to be paired with wines. It’s going in the natural food sections of supermarkets - and being placed in hotel mini-bars, alongside the mixed nuts. And one company started marketing jerky as a “performance enhancing meat snack” – soaked in a marinade of caffeine. They called it “Perky Jerky” and guess who’s buying it now? 60 PERCENT WOMEN!

So ladies, don’t worry about the gas station image of beef jerky. It’s been transformed into an upscale health food.