Levis was a violinist, but his musical career was unsuccessful, as was an attempt as a tobacconist. Besides selling spices, he and his brother pickled meat and vegetable products such as pickles, cabbage, and pig's feet in his garage which they sold to Philadelphia taverns. In the 1940s, he and his brother-in-law/partner, Joseph Cherry, hired a meatpacker to develop a handheld dried meat stick. The snack was originally named Penn Rose (presumably after Pennsylvania and Rose, his wife). Although each meat stick was sold individually, a vendor stored the sticks as a bunch and immersed in a large jar of vinegar. Eventually the product was sold individually in a sealed cellophane wrapper. The Cherry-Levis Food Company was sold to General Mills in 1967 for $20 million, and Levis left the company about a year thereafter. The Slim Jim product line was sold to Goodmark Foods in 1982 and then to ConAgra in 1998. Sales in 2015 of the product line were $575 million.)
After his professional success, Levis established himself as a philanthropist, assisting over 35 organizations worldwide. Among his primary philanthropic interests were Jewish organizations and charities as well as those involved in the care and treatment of Alzheimer's disease. (His wife Rose suffered from Alzheimer's disease; she died in 1994.) He donated more than $3.5 million to the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County; a $2 million gift provided the initial support for what became the Adolph and Rose Levis Jewish Community Center in Boca Raton, Florida, established in 1983. He donated an additional $1 million for the care of adults with Alzheimer's and dementia.
- Hansell, Saul (March 25, 2001). "AdolphLevis, Entrepreneur And Philanthropist, Dies at 89". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 7 September 2015.
- "Adolph Levis; Created Meat Snack Slim Jims". Los Angeles Times. March 26, 2001. Retrieved December 1, 2016.
- Howard, Manny (December 30, 2001). "FOOD: ADOLPH LEVIS, B. 1911; A Tricky Stick". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 1 December 2016.
- "Adolph Levis, creator of Slim Jim snacks, dead at 89". The Tuscaloosa News. Associated Press. March 21, 2001. Retrieved December 1, 2016.
- Trotter, Greg (November 16, 2016). "Slim Jim knows you've given up its meat sticks, and it wants you back". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved December 1, 2016.
- "Adolph & Rose Levis Jewish Community Center". LevisJCC.org. Adolph & Rose Levis Jewish Community Center. Retrieved December 1, 2016.
- "About Us". LevisJCC.org. Adolph & Rose Levis Jewish Community Center. Retrieved December 1, 2016.