App State barbecue sauce creates flavorful fundraiser for student athletics

Lily Kincaid, Reporter

App State Athletics cooked up a way to raise funds to support campus athletics and student athletes. 

Yosef’s Barbecue Sauce was born almost a year ago. Cliff Thomas, an App State alumnus and member of the Yosef Advisory Board, works in the food business. The members of the board saw an opportunity through Thomas Gourmet Foods, which Thomas’ father owns and family operates.

“As far as Thomas Gourmet Foods is concerned, we don’t necessarily make any money off of it,” Thomas said. “After all the license and fees and things are paid, we’re going to try to take the money that is generated from it and give it back to the Yosef Club.”

Currently, the tomato-based barbecue sauce is available in original, mild and tangy, and bold and spicy. Customers can buy the sauce through the Thomas Gourmet Foods website, at the App State bookstore and Ingles. According to Thomas, the recipe is one of a kind.

“We just took one of our barbecue sauces and tweaked it to create a recipe exclusively for Appalachian State,” Thomas said. “That’s the only place we’ll use that recipe.”

Thomas said COVID-19 has caused some roadblocks for this project, limiting face-to-face interaction, and making it hard to promote the sauces to stores. 

Thomas described this as a “hurry up and wait” situation. He hopes that as the state lifts pandemic-related restrictions, he will be able to promote this product to other App State Athletics sponsors, like Harris Teeter and Lowes Foods, so that they can also have Yosef’s Barbecue Sauce on their shelves. 

“We feel like it’s really going to take off and be a good thing, not only for the school but for the people that actually buy it,” Thomas said. “We feel like they’re really going to like it.”

Thomas Gourmet Foods has a history of supporting charities and holding fundraisers, but Yosef’s Barbecue Sauce is the company’s first retail-based fundraiser.

Yosef’s Barbecue Sauce is the first fundraiser Thomas Gourmet Foods has sponsored where the product is sold in stores on a day-to-day basis. 

Thomas Gourmet Foods is a partner and large supporter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The owner, Cliff Thomas’ father, earned the nickname “Papa Wish.” 

However, unlike the fundraiser with Yosef’s Barbecue Sauce, the Make-A-Wish fundraisers are usually conducted through spaghetti dinners or selling barbecue plates. 

The athletics department has released other licensed products similar to this one, said Associate Athletic Director Spencer Bridges. These products include Yosef Golden Ale and App State beef jerky

“We thought barbecue sauce obviously is a natural fit from a sporting standpoint due to tailgating,” Bridges said. “I mean, who doesn’t like barbecue in North Carolina? It’s kind of the thing here.”

Yosef’s Barbecue Sauce is available at all 175 Ingles stores across the country. Ingles is based in North Carolina, Bridges said, so customers can find the sauce in the North Carolinian products section.

Bridges said Thomas created a barbecue sauce that’s “really stinking good” and said he’s a fan of the original, and his wife enjoys cooking with it. 

He also said Doug Gillin, the athletic director at App State, mixed two flavors for a pork roast recently. 

“I think people got the itch to start barbecuing and being outside,” Bridges said. “We’ll hopefully move that along a little further.”