Slim Jim (snack food)

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Slim Jim
Slim Jim.jpg
A packaged mini Slim Jim stick
Product typeMeat snack
OwnerConagra Brands
CountryU.S.
Introduced1929; 93 years ago (1929)
Previous ownersGeneral Mills
GoodMark Foods, Inc.
TaglineSnap into a Slim Jim!
Websitewww.slimjim.com

Slim Jim is an American snack brand sold globally and manufactured by Conagra Brands.[1] They are widely available and popular in the United States, with 2015 revenues of $575 million.[2] About 569 million of the cylindrical meat sticks are produced annually in at least 21 varieties.[3]

History[edit]

Jack Comella invented the first Slim Jim in 1929 in Philadelphia, although he and his partner, Adolph Levis, subsequently hired a meatpacker to develop the product for production in the 1940s.[4] He later sold the company in 1967 for about $20 million to General Mills,[4] which moved the operations to Raleigh, North Carolina, and merged them into the meatpacking operations of their recently-acquired Jesse Jones Sausage Co. to create Goodmark Foods.[5] Ron Doggett moved to Raleigh in 1969 as he was named corporate controller of the newly-formed entity, and was later the company's Vice President of Finance.[5] In 1982, General Mills put the company up for sale, and Doggett and three other GoodMark executives acquired the company; Doggett assumed the offices of president and chief operating officer.[5] ConAgra bought Goodmark in 1998.[6] Until 2009, the former Jones Sausage plant in Garner, North Carolina was the only facility in the world which produced Slim Jims.[7][8]

The product Levis created is different from the one produced since the 1990s, with Lon Adams (1925–2020),[9] developing the current Slim Jim recipe while working for Goodmark.[10]

Production was interrupted after an explosion and fire on June 9, 2009, heavily damaged the plant in Garner, killing three workers and a subcontractor worker.[11] ConAgra reopened the plant six weeks after the incident.[12] Since it could only produce at about half of its original capacity, ConAgra arranged for other facilities to produce Slim Jims[7] including facility in Troy, Ohio. On May 20, 2011, the facility in Garner closed, the same day that the company's former spokesman "Macho Man" Randy Savage died.[13]

Advertising campaigns[edit]

A Slim Jim after removal of packaging

From 1993 to 2000, advertising for the product included commercials that featured professional wrestler "Macho Man" Randy Savage, who served as spokesperson. Each commercial would close with Savage bellowing "Need a little excitement? Snap into a Slim Jim!" Other notable spokespersons have included rapper Vanilla Ice and wrestlers The Ultimate Warrior, Bam Bam Bigelow, Kevin Nash, and Edge.

The advertising campaign was developed at North Castle Partners in Greenwich, Connecticut, by Tom Leland and Roger Martensen, under the creative direction of Hal Rosen. The "Snap Into A Slim Jim" concept was originally intended for comedian Sam Kinison, but he declined.[citation needed] Hal Rosen then suggested using WWF wrestlers, and The Ultimate Warrior was selected for the kickoff spot. In addition to a TV spot, the Ultimate Warrior also recorded several radio commercials for Slim Jim in 1991.

A subsequent campaign featured Slim Jim Guy (played by actor Demetri Goritsas[14]), a human personification of a Slim Jim who would wreak havoc on the digestive system of anyone who ate it and used the slogan "Eat me!" These ads personified the irreverent personality of the brand and were also from North Castle Partners.

Slim Jim advertisements were also heavily featured on MTV, ESPN, WWF, WCW, and Disney Channel. Slim Jim was one of the earliest sponsors of the ASA Pro Tour (the aggressive inline skating tour) from 1997 to 2000.[15] The ASA Pro Tour was a qualifier for ESPN's X Games.

In 2005, Slim Jim advertising featured the Fairy Snapmother, described in a ConAgra press release as "a character resembling a tattooed rocker with wings – and a familiar MTV-type of humor young males enjoy."[16]

Another campaign depicted hunters hunting a fictitious "Snapalope" within convenience stores using urban camouflage. The Snapalope is a deer-like puppet made from Slim Jims.

In 2008, Slim Jim launched the website "SpicySide.com", encouraging consumers to get in touch with their "Spicy Side" by creating an avatar and fighting their friends in an online landscape called Spicy Town. Slim Jim also partnered with a well known Machinima artist Myndflame to develop a World of Warcraft parody.

As of 2012, the company uses social media as a method of advertisement, using internet humour and memes to gain popularity online, creating an unofficial slogan of “Long Boi Gang” (referring to the snack itself). The Slim Jim account frequently comments on popular Instagram meme pages, and has gained a fair amount of popularity through this alone.[citation needed]

Slim Jim sponsored Bobby Labonte and David Green when they won the NASCAR Busch Series championship in 1991 and 1994, respectively.

Ingredients[edit]

A 2009 Wired article listed some of the ingredients as beef, mechanically separated chicken, lactic acid starter culture, dextrose, salt, sodium nitrite, and hydrolyzed soy.[17] They note that although ConAgra refers to Slim Jim as a "meat stick", it resembles a fermented sausage, such as salami or pepperoni, which uses bacteria and sugar to produce lactic acid, lowering the pH of the sausage to around 5.0 and firming up the meat.[17]

Sodium nitrite is added to prevent the meat from turning gray,[17] and hydrolyzed soy contains monosodium glutamate.[17]

Varieties[edit]

Slim Jim has launched several spin-off products of its main brand. These products are often of higher quality than the original Slim Jim, using premium meats.[citation needed] Such products include both tender steak strips and beef jerky.[citation needed]

The tender steak strips come in three flavors. Its companion beef jerky comes in four flavors: an original flavor, two spicy flavors, and one smokin' apple flavor.[18]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ LaVito, Angelica (October 13, 2022). "Conagra is revamping the Slim Jim brand: Think office, not gas station". CNBC. Retrieved December 29, 2017.
  2. ^ Trotter, Greg (November 16, 2016). "Slim Jim knows you've given up its meat sticks, and it wants you back". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved December 1, 2016.
  3. ^ Lauria, Peter (July 2, 2009). "Where's the Beef?". New York Post.
  4. ^ a b Hansell, Saul (March 25, 2001). "Adolph Levis, Entrepreneur And Philanthropist, Dies at 89". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 September 2015.
  5. ^ a b c "Ron Doggett". NC Business Hall of Fame. North Carolina Business History.
  6. ^ "ConAgra Inc. buys GoodMark Foods Inc. for $225 million". Triangle Business Journal. American City Business Journals. February 15, 1999. Retrieved December 1, 2016.
  7. ^ a b Shaffer, Josh; Locke, Mandy (September 17, 2009). "Slim Jim plant to cut 300: ConAgra cites June explosion". The News & Observer.
  8. ^ Shaffer, Josh; McDonald, Thomasi; Nagem, Sarah (June 10, 2009). "ConAgra explosion kills two; dozens hurt: Ammonia fumes drifted over the plant, complicating recovery efforts; badly burned workers are hospitalized". The News & Observer.
  9. ^ Paybarah, Azi (3 December 2020). "Lon Adams, Who Gave the Slim Jim Its Flavor, Dies at 95". The New York Times.
  10. ^ "Slim Jim: Present at the Creation". The New York Times. July 28, 1996.
  11. ^ Staff, JournalNow. "4th victim of blast at Slim Jim plant dies". Winston-Salem Journal. Retrieved 2021-05-21. A fourth person has died from injuries suffered in a natural-gas explosion that tore through a North Carolina Slim Jim plant five months ago, a hospital spokesman said yesterday. Curtis Ray Poppe, 55, worked for Energy Systems Analysts Inc., and hired to install a water heater at the plant, died Thursday at the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center in Chapel Hill, spokesman Tom Hughes said.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  12. ^ Burns, Matthew (June 9, 2019). "Scars finally healing decade after Garner ConAgra plant explosion". WRAL-TV. Capitol Broadcasting Company. Retrieved March 28, 2022.
  13. ^ "Slim Jim maker closes Garner plant Friday". WRAL.com. 19 May 2011. Retrieved 8 February 2015.
  14. ^ Demetri Goritsas at IMDb
  15. ^ "1997 ASA Pro Tour Sponsors – Thank You!". aggroskate.com. Archived from the original on 14 May 1998. Retrieved 8 February 2015.
  16. ^ "SNAP! Slim Jim's Fairy Snapmother Flies Into Convenience Stores" (Press release). ConAgra Foods. November 15, 2005. Retrieved 2008-09-08.
  17. ^ a b c d Di Justo, Patrick (24 August 2009). "What's Inside a Slim Jim?". Wired. Archived from the original on June 29, 2013.
  18. ^ "Slim Jim beef jerky". Snack Memory. Retrieved 8 February 2015.

External links[edit]