Lon Adams, who created the modern recipe for Slim Jim beef jerky, died on Nov. 28 from complications of the coronavirus in a Raleigh, North Carolina hospital. He was 95. His children, Eleanor Harrington and Eric Adams, confirmed his death to The New York Times on Thursday. Lynn Barrow of Brown-Wynne Funeral Home in Raleigh told the Associated Press a graveside funeral was held on Wednesday.
Adams did not invent the Slim Jim, which hit stores in 1928, but he did craft the modern recipe when he was the Goodmark Foods director of meat technology. ConAgra Brands, which owns Goodmark today, said the company was "grateful for the contributions that Lon made to Slim Jim." The recipe Adams created was a closely guarded secret, as it was "locked up" in a vault at Goodmark's Raleigh headquarters.
Adams was born Alonzo Theodore Adams II in Davenport, Iowa in March 1925. He enlisted in the Army in World War II and was shot in the face at the Battle of the Bulge. "The bullet went in under one eye and out on the other side of his face right in front of his ear," Harrington told the Times, calling it "miraculous" that her father survived. After the war, he enrolled in college and earned a master's degree.
After working at a pork production plant in Iowa, Adams moved to North Carolina to join Goodmark. He retired in the early 1990s but still worked for the company under contract, his children told the Times. In recent years, he developed Alzheimer's disease and moved to an assisted living center in Raleigh. His children said he contracted the coronavirus at the center and died a week after his family was told about it. Adams is survived by his two children and three grandchildren. His wife of over 30 years, Berdine Heerts Adams, died in 1989.
As of Friday night, the U.S. has over 14.3 million confirmed coronavirus cases, according to Johns Hopkins University. More than 279,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began. In North Carolina, 2,157 people are in the hospital with COVID-19 on Friday, the most ever so far, reports WRAL. Friday also saw 5,303 new cases in the state, the second day in a row with more than 5,000 new cases. On Thursday, there was a record of 5,637 new cases reported.