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A recipe for profits.

Jacquelyn Legg is not a household name like Julia Child. Yet her recipes are used weekly in tens of thousands of homes, ranging from Platerville, Wis., to Atlanta. As the author and sole mover behind a recipe continuity program called Words Worth Eating, Mrs. Legg is encouraging her peers to prepare better perishable dishes for their families.

And the supermarkets participating in the Words Worth Eating program are profiting. With one new recipe available in stores each week, the program builds a steady clientele. It also stimulates the sale of the meats, seafood, fruits, vegetables, spices and other ingredients used in the weekly recipes.

"I grew up in a traditional Southern household," says Mrs. Legg. "My mother believed that a young woman was not properly trained unless she could cook and entertain."

Mrs. Legg's at-home training was supplemented by formal education at The College of William & Mary. In between history classes, the young woman kept up her kitchen education by managing and cooking the meals served in her sorority.

After graduation, Mrs. Legg took over the management of her home and family in Newport News, Va. She maintained her interest in cooking and continued to collect recipes. Her devotion to good food was so intense that she was asked by a local group to compile a cookbook for the Bicentennial.

"I learned what makes a good recipe by putting together that cookbook," Mrs. Legg says. "More than 2,000 recipes were submitted, and we tested every one to see whether it should be part of the 600 recipes we published."

Throughout her years as housewife and cookbook author. Mrs. Legg had remained in contact with James Ukrop, a former William & Mary classmate and president of Ukrops Super Markets Inc., a 14-store Richmond, Va., chain. During a joint family vacation at the beach, the Words Worth Eating program was conceived.

"One evening Jim Ukrop came back from the store with his hands full of fresh peaches and tomatoes," says Mrs. Legg. "Since I'd been cooking a long time, it wasn't hard for me to whip something up. We started talking about cooking and recipes, and Jim said, "Wouldn't it be nice of your recipe for peach cobbler was actually displayed in the store?'"

By November 1978, Mrs. Legg's recipes were displayed in Ukrop's supermarkets and approximately 3,000 of them were passed out during the initial week. Mrs. Legg's recipes are still there, but now 25,000 are being taken by consumers every week. "With the exception of stamps, our Words Worth Eating program may be the longest-running continuity program in any supermarket," says Ukrop. Recipe of the Week

Recipe cards are not a revolutionary innovation in supermarkets. Both chain and independent stores have often had a rack in the meat or produce department. As many as 20 recipes would be kept on display until they ran out.

Although the standard recipe rack may be an attraction for a first-time shopper, steady customers soon realize that the recipes remain the same and the impact of this merchandising tool is lost. In the Words Worth Eating program, a new recipe card is added every week. Instead of starting at a peak and falling off quickly, consumer interest builds steadily.

"The Words Worth Eating program has continued to be strong because, from the outset, it was designed as a weekly promotion," says Mrs. Legg. "Every week, Ukrops advertises and displays one recipe. Shoppers know that if they want the recipe, they must visit the store that week."

While the other firms participating in the Words Worth Eating program follow a similar program, Mrs. Legg has no control over implementation of her program. Words Worth Eating recipes are currently featured at Dick's Super Markets in Platteville, Wis., D&W Food Centers in Grand Rapids, Mich., Grau's Supermarkets in Baltimore, Lou Smith's Supermarket in Newport News, Va., and Ogleetree's in Atlanta. More than 150,000 recipe cards are distributed weekly through the 40 participating stores.

At Ukrops, a custom-designed wooden fixture holding the recipes is strategically positioned directly inside the entrance. Shoppers can pick up the weekly recipe either on the way in or out.

"Some shoppers like to get the recipe immediately, than buy all the ingredients as they do their shopping," says Mrs. Legg. "The stores make that easy by putting shelf talkers by all the ingredients used in the recipe. That way, the recipe makes an impact throughout the entire shopping trip."

Take, for example, a recipe for Bombay Chicken Salad. Ingredients include chicken, grapes, onions, celery, peaches, almonds, curry powder, chutney, sour cream and lemon juice. Shelf talkers in the meat, produce, dairy, gourmet food and grocery departments all encourage extra sales. Simple But Sophisticated Food

The key ingredient in the success of the Words Worth Eating program is the quality and ease of the recipes. "If somebody bought all the ingredients, baked one of my pies and it tasted awful, they wouldn't be coming back the next week for another recipe. And they may even be mad at the store," says Mrs. Legg.

To guard against that happening Mrs. Legg triple tests each recipe in her own kitchen. Most recipes come from her own collection, although some are suggested by her sisters, friends, and even the supermarket executives. To the best of her knowledge, none of the recipes have been previously published.

"My recipes are delicious, but they're definitely not competition for Gourmet magazine," Mrs. Legg says. "The recipes are very practical, and don't take hours to prepare. They use ingredients that people usually have on hand, and can always be made in a kitchen with standard equipment."

"The secret to the popularity of the Words Worth Eating recipes is that anybody can follow them," says Ukrop. "The dishes are simple to prepare, yet taste as good as the food in a fine restaurant."

The recipes are also timely. Mrs. Legg tries to gear recipes to the perishables seasons. Lamb recipes are featured in the spring; cheese dishes are promoted during June; apple concoctions are popular in October, and so on.

"The recipes are more effective when they tie in with seasonal items," says Mrs. Legg. "That means that I must work several month ahead. My family eats barbecued spareribs in February and corned beef and cabbage in July. We had our Eastern dinner in October."

Mrs. Legg supplies a set of 26 to 30 recipes to participating companies about six months in advance. The stores can then tie their recipe promotion in with the seasonal price promotions. For example, when peaches are the featured ad item, Peaches 'N Cream pie is the recipe of the week.

The price of the Words Worth Eating program is approximately $100 per week, or $5,200 annually. Participating companies are supplied with camera-ready veloxes--they are required to do their own printing. The cost of printing each recipe card varies from 5 cents to 9 cents, depending on the company's printing capability.
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Title Annotation:Jacquelyn Legg of Words Worth Eating
Author:Tanner, Ronald
Publication:Progressive Grocer
Date:Apr 1, 1984
Words:1158
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