Lon Adams, Slim Jim Beef Jerky Recipe Creator, Dead at 95

by Kayla Zadel
(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The creator of the modern recipe for Slim Jim Beef Jerky, Lon Adams, has died. Adams was 95 and died on Nov. 28. He passed due to complications from the coronavirus in a Raleigh, North Carolina hospital.

According to PopCulture.com, his children Eleanor Harrington and Eric Adams confirmed his death on Thursday (Dec. 3). A graveside funeral was held on Wednesday.

Though Adams did not invent the Slim Jim Beef Jerky that debuted in stores in 1928, he did play a vital role in the modern recipe. Adams was the director of meat technology at Goodmark, and that’s when he developed the new beef jerky concoction. He took the original recipe and made it into what we know today.

ConAgra Brands now owns Goodmark today, and ConAgra said they were “grateful for the contributions that Lon made to Slim Jim.” Furthermore, the recipe is a secret one and is “locked up” in a vault that’s at the Goodmark Headquarters in Raleigh.

Lon Adams’ Early Life

Lon Adams’ birth name is Alonzo Theodore Adams II. He was born in March 1925 in Iowa. The Slim Jim contributor enlisted in the Army during World War II. Adams was shot in the face at the Battle of the Bulge during the war.

“The bullet went in under one eye and out on the other side of his face right in front of his ear,” his daughter said, calling it “miraculous” that her father survived. Adams enrolled in college after the war and earned a master’s degree.

Adams was working at an Iowa pork production plant and then made the move to join Goodmark in North Carolina. He retired in the early 1990s. However, he still worked for Goodmark as a contract employee.

More recently, Adams was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and was moved to an assisted living center in Raleigh. He contracted the virus at the center, his children said. Adams then died a week later after the family was told about the diagnosis.

His wife, Berdine Heerts Adams, of more than 30 years died in 1989. Furthermore, Adams is survived by his two children and three grandchildren.