Beef Jerky and Booze

Meat Sticks Rise from Junk Food to Foodie Food Health Food

Slim Jim Pantry PackFood and health fashion never ceases to amaze. Remember Slim Jims? Those processed meat sticks, shelf-stable forever, that people used to buy out of desperation at a convenience store? Well, suddenly they’re trendy and you can even buy upscale, grass-fed versions. We never would have guessed that processed meat sticks could become health food.

A Social Media Turnaround for Slim Jims

A decade ago, the Slim Jim brand was tanking. ConAgra, desperate to revive the brand, moved its management from Omaha to Chicago. The old Macho Man Randy Savage advertising had stopped working and attempts to come up with something to replace him hadn’t worked out. But the company saw potential and they were right.

Leap forward to now and protein snacks are all the rage. ConAgra has seized on the potential of social media and grabbed more than 800,000 Instagram followers for Slim Jim. Sales have roughly tripled since 2010.

Foodie Food

Even more surprising, though, is the evolution of meat sticks into the realm of foodie food. Dare we even say that some consumers are even thinking of this stuff as healthy?

Stroll though Whole Foods and you’ll find all manner of grass-fed and organic meat sticks and jerky. Carbophobes are snapping it up. In the Atlantic, Amanda Mull explains how small brands of meat sticks are tapping into arcane impulses for healthy protein:

By selling directly to consumers, small brands prepared to meet the baroque requirements of restrictive health regimens can build a following large enough to pry their way onto sought-after shelf space at major grocers. For most newer meat-stick brands, that means not just a limited ingredient list, but a good backstory of where their meat comes from and the life it lived. Maldonado was careful to emphasize that Chomps sources its beef, which comprises the trimmings from steaks and other retail cuts, from a sustainable, humane ranch in Tasmania. He found that American cattle were too mistreated.

So yes, meat sticks have risen from the ashes of convenience store junk food. Now they’re officially foodie food health food. Shazam!

Click here for more about the ascendency of meat sticks from the Atlantic.

Beef Jerky and Booze, photograph © Paul Sableman / flickr

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February 22, 2020

2 Responses to “Meat Sticks Rise from Junk Food to Foodie Food Health Food”

  1. February 22, 2020 at 6:48 am, Mary-Jo said:

    The sodium content of meat sticks, even the most sophisticated of the lot, is very high. People on high-protein, low-carb diets, can find themselves ingesting extremely high amounts of sodium if they think they can consume meat sticks as ‘free’ snacks. I help many people who fly frequently. I had a young guy who told me his feet blew up like balloons on his last flight and came to me wanting to know if it was anything about cabin air or airline food causing this. Upon sleuthing his dietary intake, found out he ate several bags of jerky and meat sticks during the 10 hour flight. He had been avoiding carbs to help drop weight and thought the meat sticks were MUCH ‘healthier’ than pretzels.

  2. February 24, 2020 at 5:40 pm, Christine Weithman said:

    i always love Mary Jo’s comments – such great points above!