Doc Hinkle Easter Egg Coloring began in 1893 when a pharmacist, Samuel Hinkle, in his spare time, began experimenting with egg dye colors in the basement of the Schroeder Hinkle drug store. Mr. Hinkle was always interested in German aniline dyes and wanted to develop one that was instant drying, would make shiny eggs, and was able to be painted on. The unique characteristics of the Hinkle Egg Coloring satisfy all these requirements. Though the formula has changed over the years from the coal-tar based product of Samuel Hinkle’s day to the water based FDA approved dyes of today, the unique qualities of the product, drying with a shine and requiring no mixing, remain.
As the popularity of the colors grew they were offered for sale locally for five cents. Mr. Hinkle’s children would go door to door with the little bottles in their wagon. Until 1924 sales were primarily limited to friends and local people. In the late 1920’s however, the business took on a new dimension when retailer F.W.Woolworth became one of Hinkle’s customer.
The product continued to thrive in 1984, the company was sold to Lifelike Industries, a conglomerate in Baltimore, Maryland. In 2002, after learning that Doc Hinkle Easter Egg Coloring was no longer going to be made, John Wright Company in New Providence, Pennsylvania purchased the business and brought it back home, so to speak. John Wright Company is located in Lancaster County.
The egg coloring business is a natural for John Wright to undertake because the company produces products, usually in cast iron, with a history and story to tell, for example reproduction cast iron banks and doorstops. Doc Hinkle had a cast iron egg turner that he used when he decorated eggs, which John Wright has reproduced.