Daddy Hinkle’s, Adding Its Own Spice To Oklahoma Life

CL spends some time with David of Daddy Hinkle’s spice company based in Cleveland Oklahoma.

CL Harmon, Lead Author, Osage Nation Member

28 September 2018

Now and then the expression ‘the spice of life’ gets tossed around. Usually, it is referring to someone or something which adds a little more to life than what is the norm. It is a rare occasion when it happens and so to meet someone who spices up life both metaphorically and literally, is a flavor that has a taste all its own. Let me introduce you to the David Hinkle Southard, the man behind the Daddy Hinkle spices label.

Soft-spoken and with a subtle sense of humor, one immediately feels comfortable in his presence. He humbly works at keeping his intelligence from shining through, but it beams through the cracks as he explains the operations at Daddy Hinkle’s Spices company plant in Cleveland, Oklahoma. No, he is not Daddy Hinkle, but his grandson and one of three brothers who founded the company in 1993. At 50 years of age and living on a sailboat in the Florida Keys, David had plans to “bum around in paradise” as he put it when his younger brother approached him with the idea of starting a company selling spices.

Photograph by CL Harmon

As for the history of where the spices originated, David explained that his grandfather J. Frank Hinkle was the inspiration to build and operate a company using the same principles which the grandfather had used in building his successful oil drilling business. The family’s success would afford them an upper-class lifestyle and a love for entertaining friends and business associates. Since Hinkle was a lover of steak, it was usually the main course. As such, his wife Zula began mixing spices and ingredients of varying types and degrees to enhance the flavor. Unbeknownst to her at the time, she was creating the foundation for products that her grandsons would use to add more taste to the world.

The family had been using the recipes through the years, but producing them for commercial use was not something that the brothers knew much about. David’s younger brother Denny was an endodontist, and his older brother Michael raises race horses. Denny, however, wanted to invest in the idea and David’s career choices made him the one most qualified to head up such an operation. He had spent the previous 20 years owning and working in different capacities at bars and restaurants. He knew how to cook various types of meats and seafood as well as even being a sautee cook in a French restaurant for a while. He had an understanding of what was required spice-wise to give the meat a flavorful, robust taste. When his brother Denny approached him about the idea, He wasn’t initially thrilled about running ashore and leaving behind paradise, but he was lured away by the thought of having what he calls “mailbox money.”

Photograph by CL Harmon

The plan initially David believed would be to take a couple of years off from “bumming around in paradise,” develop the product, market it and then head back to South Florida where he could sail around for a few months and then anchor long enough to cash the mailbox money checks. Fortunately for steak enthusiasts, that is not what happened! After three years, it became evident to David that his continued involvement and formula creations were crucial to the success of the company. So he debarked for good. His first order of business was to create the product. His grandparents had created the flavors to make great tasting meats, but they had done so using ready-made spices from the store and simply mixing different options until creating the taste they wanted. David had to recreate the flavors with formulas using raw ingredients.

This first formula would become the “Original” (Onion & Garlic based), which is still the largest seller. David has since added several other blends including the two other main flavors. The second of these main flavors is Southwest (Cumin & Oregano based), and the third is Spicy Pepper (Jalapeno & Red Pepper). All three blends are paired with Liquid Instant Meat Marinade. In addition, the company has all natural flavors seasoning rub marinades. These include Onion & Garlic- Sugar-Free, Tex Mex- Sugar-Free, Low Sodium- Made with Sea Salt, Cracked Pepper- Low Sodium and Spicy Pepper-Sugar Free. There is also a seasoned tenderizer, which is a liquid that has tenderizer, onion, and garlic already added.

Next would be the production aspect. David settled on three blending companies in the US that take his formula and create the product. The products are made in dry seasoning and a liquid form. The companies which produce the dry seasoning ship it in bulk to the Cleveland facility where it is then packaged or and sometimes bottled for sale. The company offers the dry seasoning in various sizes and both the dry and liquid in bulk packages. Also, it has gift baskets and combo packs.

The company has been in existence for 24 years has had steady growth since its inception. It currently distributes Daddy Hinkle’s spices in the following stores: Walmart, Reasors, Food Pyramid, Krogers, Price Chopper, Albertsons, Homeland, United, Hy-Vee, Brookshire Grocery, H.E.B., Dillon, and various meat markets all over the United States. The products can be ordered online www.daddyhinkles.com as well. The company also has customers in Canada, California, New York, Colorado, Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana. Products are also available on Amazon, eBay, and Wal-Mart.com. The company has several distributors that represent the company in selling its products.

Daddy Hinkle’s is certainly a unique addition to Oklahoma which continues the tradition of adding to the blend of flavors that can always be found cooking somewhere in the state. So crack open a bottle of Daddy Hinkle’s and enjoy the spice of Oklahoma life.

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