HIGHTOWER: Fancy Beef Snacks

Adolph Levis has died.  You won't know him by name, but his story is pure Americana, and he might literally have touched your life (or at least your lips), as he did mine.

Adolph is the man who invented the "Slim Jim"-the slick little beef-stick wrapped in cellophane and sold as a snack food, mostly in convenience stores.  Years ago (before I discovered nutrition), I was hooked on Slim Jims, and apparently lots of folks still are hooked, for $150-million worth of the things are sold each year.

Mr. Levis got the idea for his beef-stick concoction back in the depression when he was peddling such edible delights as pickled pigs' feet to taverns in Pennsylvania.  He thought maybe there was a market for something a tad more delicate and easier to eat, so he hired a local meatpacker to develop his thin, dried beef stick.  To give it a touch of savoir faire, his logo was an elegant-looking man in a top hat whom he, dubbed Slim Jim.  Actually, Slim James would've been more elegant, but that's a little prissy for bar food.

There's sure nothing prissy about this little item, which is more of a "beef-like" snack than anything that's pure cow.  In it's present formulation, the mushed-up beef organs have been eliminated and some chicken stuff has been added, but it's still got it's original 30 magic spices and the zesty lactic acid culture that ferments for 17 hours.  Then, the whole mixture is cooked for 20 more hours, poured into molds, dried, packaged...and shipped to a store or bar near you.  Adolph's original slogan for this treat, by the way, was "Make Your Next Drink Taste Better."

This is Jim Hightower saying...I can tell you from experience that nearly anything will taste better after a Slim Jim.  But still, I loved 'em, and I'm glad Adolph Levis was in my life.  And for you hoity-toity's who wouldn't let such low-class meat parts touch your lips-what do you think "sweet breads" are?  And don't even ask how foie gras is produced.

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