Pain in the neck forced Oklahoma man out of work, but wife's tamales were recipe to success

Great State
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TULSA, Okla. (KFOR) – For all of life’s adventures, neither Kenny Calhoun nor his wife Ruby ever thought they’d be working in a kitchen to make ends meet.

Kenny recalls, “My wife and I were sitting around the house.”

Ruby says, “I’m a hairdresser by trade.”

It was a messed up neck that forced Kenny out of the Oklahoma oil field.

“Driving semi-trucks down lease roads,” he reasons.

He and Ruby tried different recipes for paying the bills.

“Odds and ends,” smiles Kenny.

About a year ago, Kenny took a bite of one of Ruby’s tamales and had a thought.

“I was like, ‘You know, what? We could sell these’.”

A couple of friends agreed but that was only the beginning.

“Have you learned a lot in the past year,” asks a kitchen visitor? “A LOT”, responds Kenny.

A good tamale recipe starts with the masa, the corn-based outside layer.

Both Calhouns played around until they thought they had something pretty good.

Kenny says, “We found the right seasoning and it just took off.”

They started taking orders online from friends and family.

About a year ago, they found this place in Tulsa.

The Mother Road Market and Kitchen 66 started up a couple of years back to give people like the Calhouns a head start on their business ideas.

He claims, “This is the first of its kind in Oklahoma.”

Kenny and Ruby buy time in this professional kitchen a couple of days a week to make their tamales and salsa, even these puffed wheat duros.

They had to adjust to working together but they wouldn’t have it any other way.

Ruby jokes, “He gets on my nerves 90 percent of the time but I can’t drop him off somewhere.”

Kenny smiles and says, “Well. You know we have our moments being together 24-7, but for the most part, it works seamlessly.”

Their business has grown every month too.

Customers order a couple dozen tamales and some salsa, maybe for the Super Bowl or just supper.

“We’re a two-person factory,” says Kenny.

They work in a kitchen sure, but they are business owners, making ends meet through corn wrapped goodness, and a unique partnership, truly the ‘masas’ of their domain.

The Calhoun’s business is called the Sooner Tamale Company. They take orders on Facebook here.

They deliver to different parts of the state each week.

For more information on The Mother Road Market or Kitchen 66, click here. 

‘Is This a Great State or What?’ is sponsored by WEOKIE.

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