Johnny (Papa Johnny) Martin grew up on a farm in Western Oklahoma and learned at an early age what hard work was. He couldn’t wait for his mother to give him his own cotton sack and was really excited when he got behind the wheel of his dad’s surplus army truck at the age of six to drive while his dad and grand-dad loaded hay. By the time he was in his early teens he was driving that truck all over the area and could plant cotton rows as straight as anyone around.
After finishing high school he migrated to Amarillo and Borger, Texas to work in Safeway Grocery meat markets where he worked himself into the position of second butcher in less than a year. He then decided to start college; so he moved back to Oklahoma and worked for a building contractor while attending. He started building on his own, doing roofing, tile laying, cabinet making and house construction. He was offered a teaching position in Vocational Carpentry. Eight years later he moved back to Amarillo and worked construction in the industrial field which landed him a job as a forman position with a copper refinery. He retired after twenty years and also retired from a position with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice after over ten years.
After retirement, he packed up and moved to Missouri in 2007 to be closer to family. Papa Johnny has always tried to excel at every task he undertook including his own cakes, pies, meat products, and now his fabulous barbeque sauces.
Papa Johnny’s Ozarks Barbeque Sauce came into being after failing to find a barbeque sauce that suited the taste buds of the Martins. Johnny decided to make a sauce of his own that would do justice to a good cut of meat and at the same time not be limited to one item. He knew what a good sauce should taste like and still be healthier that those found in stores and restaurants. He wanted it also to be thicker than the watered-down sauces that run off as soon as they are applied.
He gathered up the ingredients needed along with measuring cups, spoons and scales and began the process of creating the taste he wanted for the sauce which later became known as his Sweet and Spicy Sauce. With very precise measuring and logging of each ingredient he was assured future batches would be exact in taste, texture, and consistency. Family and friends fell in love with it immediately. Some thought there needed to be a sauce without quite as much kick so Johnny adjusted his receipt to make it milder and this would become his Sweet and Mild Sauce. A few other people thought there needed to be a much hotter taste, so again he added the ingredients to create more heat. This became known as his Sweet and Hot Sauce.
As more people tried Johnny’s sauce they convinced him that he should make it available to the public. With this in mind, he came up with an idea for a logo and name and presented it to a firm to develop a label design which became an award winner for them. The name Papa Johnny’s Barbeque Sauce was chosen because two of his grandchildren call him Papa Johnny. Later the word Ozarks was added to let everyone know that the sauce was a local product of the Ozarks.