Burger King had its “I Am Man” campaign a few years ago. Dr. Pepper recently marketed a soft drink with ‘manly’ artificial sweeteners. Now, ConAgra has taken its Slim Jim product to new heights of unbridled testosterone with Slim Jim Dare (“made from stuff guys need”).
The commercials revolve around the problem of “male spice loss”, for which a Slim Jim Dare is the proposed cure. We see the Slim Jim team and its “manbulance” rescue a man who ordered a salad, one who is driven around in a scooter by his girlfriend, and others caught ironing their jeans, among other “temporary lapses of judgment.”
While Slim Jim may save men from stepping outside the rigid societal confines of masculinity, it can’t say the same about the risk for several cancers (mainly that of the colon, stomach, and pancreas).
This is the ingredient list for Slim Jim Dare:
Beef, Mechanically Separated Chicken, Water, Textured Soy Protein Concentrate, Salt, Corn Syrup, Less Than 2% of: Habanero Chili Pepper, Flavorings, Dextrose, Paprika and Paprika Extractives, Hydrolyzed Corn and Soy Protein and Wheat Gluten, Mono and Diglycerides, Lactic Acid Starter Culture, Sodium Nitrite
In case you’re wondering, the USDA defines mechanically separated chicken as, “a paste-like and batter-like poultry product produced by forcing bones, with attached edible tissue through a sieve”; go to 0:37 of this video to see it in action, complete with awkward narration and oddly peppy techno music.
As far as red meat goes, one large European epidemiological study found that “the people who ate the most red meat (about 5 ounces a day or more) were about a third more likely to develop colon cancer than those who ate the least red meat (less than an ounce a day on average).” Despite the meat industry’s hair-trigger response that warnings of a link between meat and colon cancer risk are ‘activist propaganda’ by vegetarian groups, organizations like the World Cancer Research Fund echo the warnings.
Sodium nitrite is also bad news (so much so that while the American Institute for Cancer Research advises people limit consumption of red meat, they call for outright avoidance when it comes to processed meats).
Although some vegetables naturally contain sodium nitrite, they are not a concern since many of the healthful compounds in vegetables strongly mitigate the effects of sodium nitrite (and, in some cases, interact with it in such a way that turns it into a beneficial compound). Much like one can not equate whole fruit and soda based on sugar content, the same goes for sodium nitrite in processed meats versus vegetables.
Sticks and stones may break your bones, but Slim Jims are bad news all around.