The Great Depression gave rise to the lowly cube steak, a slice of top round or top sirloin so tough that it needs to be pulverized with a mallet to make the meat fit to chew.
Still, getting consumers to embrace new cuts like the petite tender has been anything but a slam-dunk.
"I've never heard of them," Justin Nathaniel, 25, who was grocery shopping recently at a Hollywood Vons, said about the new cuts. "I prefer the porterhouse. I want lots of marbling."
Some meat experts are dubious too. They say the beef industry is trying to dress up second-tier cuts with fancy names.
"We already know about all the good stuff," said Lou DeRosa, a third-generation butcher at Marconda's Meats in Los Angeles. "Those new cuts are pretty rough."
But other industry veterans say the value steaks are a nice addition to their lineups.
Meat supplier Brandon Lobaugh, president of iQ Foods in Fayetteville, Ark., says the key is preparation and cooking.
To peddle the ranch steak to his customers, he brines the meat in a salt solution to ensure that it stays moist. A petite tender is roasted to a pink center and sliced into medallions like a pricey tenderloin. When pushing the Denver, he says the key is to grill it medium or medium-rare to prevent it from toughening.
Lobaugh said most of his clients happily gobble down the samples. But getting them to order it for their supermarkets and restaurants is another story.
"A lot of these chefs in big chains and accounts are real skeptical," he said. "They've been trained to work with the traditional cuts, and to come in with something new just takes them out of their comfort zone."
Food scientist Mata promotes his Vegas Strip Steak as a flavorful alternative to the New York strip, but at half to one-third the price. He has trademarked its name and launched a quixotic attempt to patent the butchering process needed to extract the steak from the shoulder blade.
At 63, the native of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, says he's not done yet. Mata is still exploring the beef shoulder and back in search of the next big thing.
"Get back to me in two years," Mata said. "I'll have another steak by then."