Professor Becker's Barbecue Sauce is being marketed by the Farmingdale...

Professor Becker's Barbecue Sauce is being marketed by the Farmingdale State College alumni association to raise funds for scholarships. Credit: Handout

Fundraising is tough these days, but alumni at Farmingdale State College have cooked up a unique plan: A barbecue sauce recipe created 40 years ago by a beloved professor may soon be on the shelves of Long Island supermarkets, with profits from sales going toward a scholarship fund.

It's called Professor Becker's Barbecue Sauce, a mix stirred up by Walter G. Becker, who was a professor in the college's Poultry Science Department and who retired from the university after 40 years in 1991.

Becker, who lived in Plainview, died in 2004 at age 75. But when he was at Farmingdale, he was the master chef of the barbecue sauce that was a favorite of students, faculty and alumni at the college's annual Homecoming each fall. Becker was a Farmingdale graduate and met his wife, Ruth, on the campus in 1949.

With the transformation of the Island from an agricultural to a more industrial economy, the college's poultry science program was discontinued in the late 1970s.

"He basically hosted the big homecoming barbecue and cooked for everybody," said Joe Egan, a Farmingdale alumnus spearheading the effort to get the sauce on supermarket shelves. Egan, president of Farmingdale-based Family Foods, which provides computer services to the food industry, said he is talking to supermarkets and hospitals in the Long Island area.

Becker's Barbecue Sauce is gluten-free. Egan said an 11-ounce squeeze jar, adorned with Becker's picture, would sell for about $3.50.

The Farmingdale State College Alumni Association hopes to raise $300,000 in scholarship money through the sale of the barbecue sauce, Egan said.

Farmingdale president W. Hubert Keen said Becker was "legendary" on the campus, and he noted, as an another example of college merchandising, that Gatorade was first developed in 1965 by researchers at the University of Florida.

"We're not tremendously optimistic about being successful on that scale," Keen said. But, he said, the barbecue sauce as scholarship-money producer is unusual. "You won't find many alumni associations doing this."

Becker's son, Walter Jr., also a Farmingdale grad, remembers helping his father cook the chickens. The sauce ingredients, Walter Jr. said, were a secret, but the elder Becker told his son's wife, Ann, what they were.

She diligently wrote them down and passed the recipe along to the alumni association.


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