Pictured is Program Chairperson Lion Beth Flud, Paul Schatte, and President Lion R.C. Morrow. - Photo by Dean Craig
Tuesday's Lions Club meeting was another "Made in Oklahoma" product program by Paul Schatte (pronounced Shot-ee), Vice-President and part-owner of Head Country BBQ Sauce in Ponca City. This story, and history, has it's beginnings in World War II by Donovan "Bud" Head, a cook on a Navy destroyer, who served his own recipe sauce to the men on the ship. After coming home from the Navy, Bud and his wife Freda produced the popular sauce from their ranch house, and neighbors would line up with their fruit jars. In 1977, it became too much to handle, so Bud passed along his secret recipe to a nephew, Danny Head. Bud probably never imagined his sauce would become a staple at backyard BBQ's across 26 states and 18 foreign countries. Head Country is now Oklahoma's #1 selling BBQ sauce and the Ponca City plant produces 6,000 gallons of the sauce per day.
Paul Schatte grew up in Texas and he and his wife attended a college in Nebraska to become teachers. He was a classroom teacher for nine years and a Principal for 11 years before meeting Danny Head in 1990, when Schatte began competing in competitive championship BBQ contests. Schatte is a 15 year veteran of professional competition and won the Jack Daniels World Championship Cook-off in Tennessee in 1994. He won the Reserve Grand Championship American Royal Invitational in 2004 and has over 25 State Championships.
In June 1999, Danny Head convinced Schatte to join the Head Country competitive BBQ cook-off team, which he did, and became an employee of Head Country. Nine years later, Schatte bought a half-ownership in the plant and the restaurant. About three years ago, an equity group (which included a son of Tulsa resident and former NFL professional player Steve Largent) bought most of the company, with Schatte retaining a partial-owner share of the plant, and Danny assuming ownership of the Head Country BBQ Restaurant. However, the restaurant had to change the name due to copyright ownership and is now called Danny's BBQ Restaurant.
According to a recent survey, Head Country BBQ Sauce is #10 in the top 50 sauces marketed, even though they are in only about 12% of the grocery stores, unlike most of the major brands labeled under world-wide companies. Pretty good for a company which celebrates 70 years next month, and only has 27 employees They have expanded the product line to include (other than original); Hot flavor, Hickory Smoke flavor, Championship Seasoning (or dry rub), and Premium Marinade.
At the conclusion of his program (not to be out-done by the likes of the Dr. Phil show), Mr. Schatte announced that everyone gets a free bottle of sauce or seasoning. So, when the dismissal gong rang, we were lined up like pigs at the trough to pick up a free sample. What a pleasure to have Paul Schatte as our guest and help celebrate 70 years of success from another "Made in Oklahoma" company, Head BBQ Sauce. Now, y'all pick up a bottle or two of this juice, ya' hear?
On a related note, three Lions (Craig Brydges, Kyle Powell, and Christie Baldridge) were awarded special 100-year celebration pins for sponsoring a new member during this year. The 100-year commemorative glass was won by Lion Robert Bible on the third name drawn. We still have three more to give away, so ALL Lions should make an extra effort to be present for the drawing. We are still searching for a few more good men and women to join us. "WE SERVE"
(Photo and information provided by Dean Craig with excerpts from an internet article by Lance West).