Adolph "Al" Levis (1913 – March 20, 2001) was an American businessman and philanthropist known as the inventor of the Slim Jim jerky snack food.[1]

Early lifeEdit

Levis was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, into a Jewish family.[1] He was a high school dropout, having quit school to earn a living during the Great Depression.[2]


Levis was a violinist, but his musical career was unsuccessful, as was an attempt as a tobacconist.[3] Besides selling spices,[1] he and his brother pickled meat and vegetable products such as pickles, cabbage, and pig's feet in his garage[2] which they sold to Philadelphia taverns.[4] In the 1940s, he and his brother-in-law/partner, Joseph Cherry, hired a meatpacker to develop a handheld dried meat stick.[1] The snack was originally named Penn Rose[4] (presumably after Pennsylvania and Rose, his wife[1]). Although each meat stick was sold individually, a vendor stored the sticks as a bunch and immersed in a large jar of vinegar.[1] 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,[3] and Levis left the company about a year thereafter. The Slim Jim product line was sold to Goodmark Foods[4] in 1982 and then to ConAgra in 1998.[2] Sales in 2015 of the product line were $575 million.[5][3])

Personal lifeEdit

Levis and his wife Rose had two daughters, Judy and Barbara.[1] In 1972 Al and Rose Levis moved to Pompano Beach, Florida, then Delray Beach, Florida.[4]

After his professional success, Levis established himself as a philanthropist,[1] assisting over 35 organizations worldwide.[4] 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,[1][6] established in 1983.[7] He donated an additional $1 million for the care of adults with Alzheimer's and dementia.[1]

He died at age 89 in hospice in Boca Raton.[2][4] He was survived by his two daughters, four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k 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.
  2. ^ a b c d "Adolph Levis; Created Meat Snack Slim Jims". Los Angeles Times. March 26, 2001. Retrieved December 1, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c 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.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Adolph Levis, creator of Slim Jim snacks, dead at 89". The Tuscaloosa News. Associated Press. March 21, 2001. Retrieved December 1, 2016.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ "Adolph & Rose Levis Jewish Community Center". Adolph & Rose Levis Jewish Community Center. Retrieved December 1, 2016.
  7. ^ "About Us". Adolph & Rose Levis Jewish Community Center. Retrieved December 1, 2016.

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