News - January 2, 2008

Jim Plunkett passes the ball to his daughter

Meghan Plunkett plays key role in marketing tailgate party condiments

by Megan Rawlins

Children grow up, go to college, get jobs and move away. Former Raider and Stanford star quarterback Jim Plunkett of Atherton wasn't too pleased with that last one.

In the spring, his daughter, Meghan Plunkett, graduated with a business and marketing degree from Manhattan College in New York, which she attended on a volleyball scholarship. Her dad was afraid she'd stay in New York.

So when his friend Steve Ferrari of Woodside came up with the idea of creating a line of tailgate-party condiments that would bear Jim Plunkett's name, Mr. Plunkett agreed, acknowledging that his decision was something of a ploy to lure his daughter back to California with a position at the new company.

Back she came, and according to Mr. Plunkett, she's been remarkably successful.

"It is amazing to see my daughter up there giving presentations and doing such a great job," says the man who led the Raiders to two Super Bowl championships in his 15-year professional career. "Meghan basically runs the business; it is such a cool feeling."

Ms. Plunkett is in charge of distribution of the products, and according to Mr. Ferrari, Mr. Plunkett's business partner, she will soon be appointed vice president of the company, Ferrari Italia Food Products Inc.

"She began helping us negotiate the Raley's contract and 7-Eleven contract," says Mr. Ferrari. "She helped complete the mountain of necessary paper work to get into Raley's 130-plus stores."

Currently, she is working on a deal to distribute the products in Safeway stores.

Idea is born

Mr. Plunkett, who grew up in the Bay Area and raised his family in Atherton, won the Heisman Trophy at Stanford in 1970. That team went on to win the Rose Bowl in an upset of Ohio State that earned Mr. Plunkett MVP honors.

Ten years later he was named MVP of Super Bowl XV in 1981.

He got to know Mr. Ferrari, who owns construction and real estate companies, through the football star's annual Stanford charity golf tournament, which Mr. Ferrari participated in.

The two became friends, and one night, over the smell of hickory and steak, the idea for the business was born.

"Jim was the self-appointed chef who manned the BBQ," says Mr. Ferrari in an e-mail. "After tasting his special BBQ sauce, it sparked an idea in my brain that said, 'Why don't Jim and I create a line of food products that revolves around football tailgating.'"

Mr. Plunkett admits to being something of a tailgate-party professional. It began, he explains, when he was a student at Stanford. Some local parents started hosting tailgate parties at sporting events; over the years, the parties became a tradition and Mr. Plunkett took over the mantle as host.

According to both men, the first products were mustard and barbecue sauce, because, as Mr. Ferrari puts it, "many people think hot dogs, mustard and barbecues go together well with football."

Mr. Plunkett's involvement is not just a photo-op celebrity endorsement. "Jim had lots of experience in distribution because he owned a Coors beer distribution company for over 22 years," says Mr. Ferrari.

Although Mr. Plunkett says he didn't provide his special recipe for the barbecue sauce, he willingly submitted to numerous taste tests during the development of the product.

The line of condiments is being marketed as the "the ultimate tailgate products," and Mr. Ferrari says they have plans to expand it to include "ketchup, tortilla chips and a tailgate party kit that has all of our products sold together."

The line is available locally at Draeger's market, the Country Corner store, Woodside Deli and Woodside Bakery & Cafe. Fresh products such as the Plunkett tri-tip salad are sold at 7-Eleven stores and Raley's.

"Raiders fans love it," says Bob Wehab, owner, along with wife Nadia, of the Country Corner store on the Alameda de las Pulgas in unincorporated Menlo Park. "Even 49ers fans love it; everyone loves Jimmy [Plunkett]."

Lunch-time customers at the Country Corner concur, but few seem aware of the new line. Mr. Wehab insists they are popular products, especially during the holidays.

"Customers buy lots of it and ship it to Raiders fans as gifts for the holidays," he says.

Mr. Plunkett, who played for three NFL teams — the Patriots, the 49ers and the Raiders — ended his pro career in 1986. He has parlayed his football expertise into post-game analysis. Currently, he appeaars on "Silver and Black," a Raiders TV show that airs locally on KTVU Channel 2 at 5 p.m. on Saturdays.

"Plunkett's legacy continues on after his fame," muses Mr. Wehab. "People everywhere recognize him."


Posted by Chas, a resident of another community
on Jun 6, 2008 at 9:55 am

fm Redding, CA - walking thru local Raleys, seen Jim's BBQ sauce. It is now my standard...and heavily promoted by me to all the neighbor hood guys. It is great, glad to see Jim on label. Life time Raider fan - why aint he in HOF!

thanks Jim, you're the best - chas and the guys in Redding.

Posted by Jenn, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 13, 2008 at 11:34 am

my family has known Jim for years. He's a class act. Great guy.

Posted by Rick Perez, a resident of another community
on Jul 25, 2008 at 12:33 pm

As A Raider Fan I can't wait to TRY it not only at the home opener against the Den. (donkeys)broncos but to use it at home for all my family outings . R8DR RIK

Posted by Maryhelen Perales, a resident of another community
on Sep 7, 2008 at 2:33 pm

I would love to see it here in Modesto.....I haven't yet but i'm sure it here I will search for it...
Oh ya James, My mom Helen Perales says hi..You played baseball with my brothers and my Dad Albert Perales!

Posted by Mark, a resident of another community
on Oct 16, 2008 at 4:37 pm

i would love to be able to contact Jim Plunkett regarding a guest appearance for Lions Clubs International in the Sacramento area. The event is a golfing event next year.
Can someone help?

Posted by Albert Frevele, a resident of another community
on Apr 28, 2009 at 7:38 am

A few years ago I found Jim Plunkett's Mustard at the Vallejo Raley's. Have not been able to find it since. It is by far my favorite mustard, and I like many kinds of mustard. Any idea where I can buy this in the Walnut Creek area? I'd love to try the BBQ sauce too!

Posted by Anonymis, a resident of Hillview Middle School
on Nov 11, 2010 at 9:38 pm

I know Meghan!! She is such a nice person!!

Posted by alex plunkett, a resident of another community
on Apr 25, 2013 at 7:07 pm

is there any chance me and jim could be related? i throw pretty damn good. so im curious.

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