Slim Jim Inventor Has Died… Who Knew He Was From Eastern Iowa?
The man who invented the Slim Jim was originally from Iowa. Here's the cool life story of Lon Adams.
Alonzo "Lon" T. Adams II was born in Davenport, Iowa on March 15, 1925. He joined the Army after graduating from high school, serving with the 82nd Airborne Division, according to his obituary.
He was only 19 when he nearly lost his life during World War II. On Jan. 30, 1945, he parachuted into combat in Belgium at the Battle of the Bulge when he was shot, according to an archived article in The Daily Times of Davenport, Iowa.
He woke up after being unconscious around German voices, fearing he was captured by Nazi forces. But he was in a hospital with captured German soldiers and safely in American hands, recalled his grandson.
After a long recuperation, Adams attended St. Ambrose College in his native Davenport and then obtained a master’s degree at Iowa State University.
“He did have some really interesting [war] stories,” said Andrew Adams. “It’s kind of similar to the Slim Jim issue, where maybe he didn’t feel defined by it, but other people in the family would find it really interesting and ask him about it.”
While Slim Jims were first created in 1928, the current formula is a meticulous mix from Adams, whose business card listed him as Director of Meat Technology. The current formula was devised by a man named Lon Adams, who worked for then-parent company Goodmark, in 1982.
The New York Times, in 1996, detailed with precision how Slim Jim snacks are made — a lengthy process that calls for processed ground beef, chicken meat (and other parts) along with a range of spices and chemicals that produce the salty sticks of meat. As The Daily Meal food blog called them, they’re “a wonder of science.” Food processing giant Conagra Brands bought its parent company, Goodmark Foods in 1998.
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