Slim Jim

Slim Jim is a brand of jerky snacks or dried sausage manufactured by ConAgra Foods, Inc., the food conglomerate based in Omaha. They are popular in the United States. More than 500 million are produced annually in at least 20 varieties.

The Slim Jim itself has been transformed in the years since Adolph Levis invented it in 1928. He sold the company in 1967 for about 20 million dollars to General Mills, who moved the operations to Raleigh, N.C., and merged them into other meatpacking operations that it renamed Goodmark Foods. It sold Goodmark in 1982 to a group led by Ron Doggett, who sold it to ConAgra in 1998.

The product Levis created is different from the one known today. Lon Adams developed the current Slim Jim recipe while working for Goodmark. Slim Jim is one example of a food product which is listed as containing mechanically separated chicken in its ingredients by requirement of the USDA. Production was interrupted after an explosion and fire in 2009 destroyed the packaging operations of the formerly-sole Garner, North Carolina manufacturing facility, but has since resumed there and in Troy, Ohio. On May 20, 2011 the facility in Garner, N.C. closed, the same day that former spokesperson ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage died.

Starting in 2013 most Slim Jim products now contain pork. Some members of Twitter have messaged the official Slim Jim Twitter account protesting the decision.

Until the late 1990s, advertising for the product included commercials that featured late 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 The Ultimate Warrior, Bam Bam Bigelow, Kevin Nash, Vanilla Ice, 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. 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.

The subsequent campaign featured ‘Slim Jim Guy,’ a man in a giant Slim Jim costume, proclaiming ‘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 and Disney Channel. Slim Jims was one of the earliest sponsors of the X Games when it was known as Destination Expedition. In 2005, Slim Jim advertising featured the ‘Fairy House Mother,’ 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.’

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

The current spokesperson is retired WWE Superstar Edge, who is featured in their current advertising campaign. The commercials feature Edge waiting for various services, accompanied by his ‘Spicy Side,’ a mischievous imp version of Edge, who terrorizes everyone after biting a Slim Jim.

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