This Is What's Really In A Slim Jim

People were snapping into Slim Jims long before wrestler Randy "Macho Man" Savage was commanding the public to do so in the 1990s. These ubiquitous gas station meat snacks have actually been around since the 1920s, and the company churns out a cool billion Slim Jims a year (via Atlanta Journal-Constitution). The plastic-encased tubes of meat come in a variety of flavors ranging from the mild original to Tabasco, Jamaican Jerk, and nearly everything in between (via Serious Eats). 

Have you ever put much thought about what's actually in these processed meat rods? They're most certainly not beef jerky and truth be told, their ingredients might just keep you from snapping into one ever again. 

You won't find top-quality meat in a Slim Jim

As Wired points out (via YouTube), the packaging of a Slim Jim reads "meat stick," and yes, it is a stick and there is meat in it. "Meat stick" though, is about as vague as it can get when really describing what's inside a Slim Jim. 

For starters, that meat is often a combination of cheap meat parts from chicken, beef, and pork. As for the beef, it comes from older cows that no steak house or even respectable burger joint would dare think of buying. As for the chicken and pork, well, you're not getting top-quality cuts of meat there either. Think more along the lines of a highly-processed pink meat paste that helps to hold it all together. Soy, wheat, and corn are also added because their proteins break down into amino acids to add a savory umami taste. 

To round things out, a lot of salt and sodium nitrite — to make sure it stays red rather than gray — is added to keep your Slim Jim fresh in its packaging (via The Daily Meal). 

Slim Jims are a really unhealthy snack

While Slim Jims do have some similarities to traditional sausage, they're more science experiment than actual food. What are we getting at? Basically, Slim Jims are not even a little bit healthy. One person on the IGN message boards said that after eating 15 of them, their mouth and throat were "coated in grease" and they were having "chest pains."

The high sodium content and chemical preservatives make the meat sticks a pretty unhealthy snack. A doctor-approved review of them on Is It Bad For You? gave them an F rating and said they should only be eaten if you're miles away from civilization and need something to survive on until rescue arrives — which should make anyone think twice about snapping into one.