How Randy Savage Saved The Slim Jim Brand

Once upon a time there was a sophisticated food mascot who wore a top hat, carried a cane, and served as an oh-so-elegant spokes-character for his signature snack: meat sticks. What, did Mr. Peanut have a side gig? No, we weren't speaking of the (sort of) late Mr. P, but instead, of his long-lost and little-known cousin, "Slim Jim" (as seen in this eBay listing). According to The Takeout, this dapper fellow did his darnedest to promote his eponymous product. The snack itself wasn't particularly elegant, however, and neither was its clientele. At that time, Slim Jims were primarily offered in bars of the divier variety and tended to be something that was fished out of a vinegar-filled jar and sold to somebody whose dinner likely started with a shot and ended with a beer.

While Slim Jims managed to eke out a (slim) profit margin for some four decades as a blue-collar bar food, by the late '80s the brand was in serious need of a new market they could tap into. This was decades before hipsters would make dive bars trendy, and pickled meat sticks were losing their appeal even for pickled bar patrons. In search of a miracle, Slim Jims called in the marketing mavens. While these Ad Men (and maybe women) managed to come up with a snappy slogan — "Snap into a Slim Jim!" — what they really needed to make their product cool with the kids was a super-snappy spokesman.

How Macho Man became the new face of the brand

The most desirable demographic in the late 80s was Generation X, a generation having its all-too-brief moment in the spotlight. So what were those crazy GenX kids into back then? Extreme everything was all the rage, and The Takeout says Slim Jims first tried to hire shock comic Sam Kinison as their new pitchman. His legal team didn't permit this, though, so Slim Jims moved on to the next best thing: the WWF (WWE's precursor –- same brand, different initial). The first "Snap Into a Slim Jim!" commercial featured the Ultimate Warrior, but the brand soon moved on to using another wrestling legend in the making: Randy "Macho Man" Savage.

Savage plus Slim Jims was a match made in advertising heaven, since within a few years, his face and his very distinctive style were synonymous with those snappy snacks, and "Snap into a Slim Jim!" became as much of a catchphrase for him as "Too hot to handle, too cold to hold!" or "I'm the tower of power, too sweet to be sour." While Savage gave up the ad gig in 2000 (and passed away in 2011), by that time Slim Jims were firmly established in the snack pantheon. The company even honored him a few years back by releasing the super-sized Savage Sticks, a memorial way more macho than any old marble slab.