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Lon Adams, Slim Jim jerky recipe creator, dies of COVID-19 complications

Alonzo “Lon” T. Adams II, the man who created the formula for Slim Jim beef jerky sticks, has died from complications of COVID-19. He was 95.

Lynn Barrow of Brown-Wynne Funeral Home in Raleigh, North Carolina, confirmed Wednesday that Adams died on Nov. 28. A graveside funeral service was held Wednesday, Barrow said.

Andrew Adams told The News & Observer of Raleigh that his grandfather contracted the virus as a resident of an assisted living facility in Raleigh that had experienced an outbreak of cases. His grandfather tested positive for the virus and died about a week later, leaving behind family in Raleigh, Illinois and Michigan.

But Adams noted that he had great memories of what his grandfather accomplished.

“It’s actually crazy — every gas station in the country, I walk in and see something that my grandpa formulated,” Adams said.

Lon Adams was a World War II veteran who survived the Battle of the Bulge despite being shot in the head. After recuperating, Adams attended St. Ambrose College in his native Davenport, Iowa and then obtained a master’s degree at Iowa State University.

While Slim Jims were first created in 1928, the current formula is Adams’ work. It was described by The New York Times in 1996 as a lengthy process that calls for processed ground beef, chicken meat and other parts, along with a range of spices and chemicals. Adams worked on the jerky recipe for more than 20 years at GoodMark Foods in Garner, North Carolina from 1968 until his retirement in 1991.

Food processor Conagra Brands bought GoodMark Foods in 1998.

Adams is survived by two children and three grandchildren.

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