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Teacher’s BBQ legend spurs fundraiser

Farmingdale State College created a barbecue sauce in

Farmingdale State College created a barbecue sauce in honor of one of its late poultry science professors, Walter G. Becker, in honor of the school's centennial. Credit: Handout

Almost every student has a teacher he or she remembers for being particularly difficult, kind or unique. At Farmingdale State College, late poultry science professor Walter G. Becker qualified as the latter.

“He was awesome,” said Elizabeth Santosus, a 1978 graduate. Santosus took his poultry science class, where he was famous for breaking a chicken’s neck on the first day. She went on to become an X-ray technician and, ironically, a wildlife rehabilitator at Sweet Briar Nature Center in Smithtown.

Another thing Becker -- who retired in 1992 and died in 2004 at age 74 -- was particularly famous for was his involvement in the school’s annual barbecue. He’d set up a 300-foot long row of grills, marinade chicken in his signature sauce and serve up enough to quell the hunger of thousands of students.

To celebrate the school’s centennial this coming September, the Farmingdale State College Alumni Association wanted to recreate Becker’s sauce and sell it for a fundraiser. Eileen Hasson, the association president and a marketing professor at the college, said the group contacted Becker’s widow, Ruth, and got the ingredients of the sauce.

They subsequently made a batch, which worked as a marinade but was too loose to be a dipping sauce.

“I remember it was made in large quantities,” Santosus said. “He would put it on with, like, mops.”

So the alumni organization, with the help of member Joe Egan, the owner of Family Food Brokers in Farmingdale, whipped up Professor Becker’s Barbecue Sauce, an original recipe sharing only vinegar in common with the professor’s marinade.

“This thing is so pure,” Hasson said of the all-natural, gluten-free barbecue sauce. “One bottle is good for three whole chickens for basting, marinating and cooking.”

Egan and Hasson taste-tested the sauce on Hasson’s marketing students, making changes to it based on their critiques. The sauce became available in the alumni office on May 14, and as of last week Hasson had sold 1,500 bottles at $3 each.

“The new one is delicious,” Santosus said. “The kids like it.”

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