BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – PLB Sports & Entertainment has collaborated with athletes to launch their own lines of cereal and other food products for more than 25 years. Their roster includes stars like Nolan Ryan, Jerome Bettis, Dan Marino, Justin Verlander, Rob Gronkowski, Patrick Mahomes and John Cena.
But of all the products they’ve launched throughout the years, the only one to ever live beyond a second release was Doug Flutie’s “Flutie Flakes,” which had an initial goal of selling 10,000 boxes and instead surpassed 3 million.
This week, another athlete joined the ranks of the marketing marvels: Bills quarterback Josh Allen, whose “Josh’s Jaqs” cereal is now on shelves in its third edition.
“We’ve had immense success with it,” said PLBSE founder Ty Ballou, who runs the Pittsburgh-based company. “We’ve had a couple of programs historically that have done two boxes … it’s very rare to do it.”
Josh’s Jaqs (pronounced “jacks”) can be found in Wegmans stores for $4.49 a box. Ballou said the cereal should be available in Tops locations by mid-September.
“It’s humbling to see a third edition of Josh’s Jaqs hit stores,” Allen said in a press release. “I’m looking forward to seeing how much we can raise for the Oishei Children’s Hospital in year 3!”
Thousands have already been donated to the hospital through cereal sales, PLBSE said. Fans have donated more than $3 million to Oishei through the Patricia Allen Fund, named for Allen’s late grandmother. A wing at the hospital was named after her.
The passion of Bills fans is certainly not lost on Ballou, who equated entering the market to finding a “lump of gold.”
“You have the greatest fanbase, I think, on the planet,” he said. “And I mean that in all sincerity. … Without the success of Bills fans and Flutie Flakes, I don’t know if my business has success.”
In the late ‘90s, Flutie hoped the cereal promotion would help raise at least $5,000 for his foundation, Ballou said. The foundation has gone on to distribute more than $14 million to help people and families affected by autism live life to the fullest.
“I’m proud to be attached to it in a modest way,” Ballou said. “I saw Doug down at the Super Bowl and gave him a hug. … Nobody in a billion years thought we would sell a million boxes of cereal.”
And despite living in Steelers country, Ballou empathizes with one particular lament of Bills Mafia.
“Mr. Wilson had to put Rob [Johnson] into that playoff game…” he mused.
The third edition of Josh’s Jaqs features a white box, following a similar color rotation through Bills colors as Flutie Flakes. The blue and red cereal remains PLBSE’s only product that matches the team colors of the athlete.
The new design gives fans an additional reason to buy the product.
“Cereal is successful because it’s something people eat every day. It’s also highly collectable,” Ballou said. “Probably 40-50% of cereal we sell is never consumed.”
Collectors should also keep their eyes peeled for more products to come. Bills receiver Stefon Diggs, who last year launched a hot sauce and blue cheese with PLBSE, has additional products dropping soon that “should be at every tailgate,” Ballou said.
Allen has another product launch planned, too, but Ballou isn’t ready to share specifics.
“If you like his cereal, you will love what is coming soon!”
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Nick Veronica is a Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team as a Digital Executive Producer in 2021. He previously worked at NBC Sports and The Buffalo News. You can follow Nick on Facebook and Twitter and find more of his work here.