Mmm! Finger-lickin’ good!
Cal Poly’s new Sweet Hickory BBQ Sauce hit markets Feb. 12, and pulled pork will never be the same.
In true Learn by Doing fashion, the university’s barbecue sauce is student-created, student-run and student-produced. From recipe creation, to production, to even packaging design, Cal Poly students had their hands on every part of the process.
University Store, Village Market, Campus Market and the Meat Processing Center sell the sauce, and Spencer’s Fresh Market will soon stock it, too, food science junior Shoshana Cantor said.
“It’s that sweet, tangy, sticky barbecue sauce everyone knows and loves,” said Cantor, the Cal Poly barbecue sauce production manager. “It’s got the right balance of textures and flavors you look for in a barbecue sauce, which is actually much more difficult to obtain than you’d think.”
The barbecue sauce was a labor of love. While Cal Poly used to produce barbecue sauce on a large scale, the professor who created the recipe and ran production ended the project, Cantor said.
Last year, a senior project focused on redeveloping the recipe. Cantor was hired during the summer by the department to work on product development, and she and her team produced approximately 30 different trials before settling on the final recipe.
“It needed to be perfect because there’s so much competition for that classic barbeque sauce,” Cantor said. “We needed one that could compete with big names like Sweet Baby Ray’s and Bull’s-Eye. But I only like mine now. It’s my baby.”
The sauce is all-natural and made without preservatives, she said. The ingredients are pure — not preprocessed. For example, tomato paste instead of ketchup works as the base of the recipe.
Lesley Gamper, a recent Cal Poly food science alumna, helped Cantor formulate the recipe.
“We were really critical with ourselves about getting the flavors just right to make sure we were even better than what was already on the market,” Gamper said.
Their hard work on the Cal Poly Sweet Hickory BBQ Sauce paid off.
“One of the people that used to work in the food science department emailed me saying she got a barbecue sauce on Friday, and it was gone by Monday,” Gamper said.
Cantor also received rave reviews.
“The manager of Cal Poly jam says he and his roommates go through it like water,” Cantor said.
Matthew Goldstein, the Cal Poly jam manager and a food science sophomore, said it’s true.
“We pretty much put it on everything,” Goldstein said. “We call it Poly Sauce. We’ve got all our other barbecue sauces in the fridge — and then we’ve got our Poly Sauce. We just made pulled pork and drenched it in it.”
Goldstein knows what sets the Cal Poly Sweet Hickory BBQ Sauce apart from its competition.
“A lot of sauces just drip right off, but Poly Sauce is different,” he said. “If you dip a chicken strip in it, the sauce just hangs on there. It’s really thick and delicious.”
Following the debut of the Sweet Hickory, a hot Fiery flavor will hit the market.
“We needed one that could compete with a traditional barbecue sauce, and then we wanted one that was really unique to Cal Poly like our Olallieberry jam is,” Cantor said. “It’s going to have a very different taste with raisin paste and cayenne pepper, but it just works.”
Cal Poly Fiery BBQ Sauce isn’t expected to hit stores until the beginning of next quarter, but University Store, Village Market, Campus Market and the Meat Processing Center all have Cal Poly Sweet Hickory BBQ Sauce in stock now for $7.10 a jar.