Sort your beans and remove and broken pieces or pebbles. I use one 16 oz package of beans. Place in a large bowl or pot, covering with water.
Add the baking soda to the water, and let the beans soak at least 6 hours or overnight. After 6 hours or overnight drain the water from the beans.
Add the beans to a 6 quart crock pot and cover with fresh water. You want the beans to be covered by at least one inch.
Add the pinto bean seasoning, sugar, vegetable oil, pepper and onion. Taste the beans after several hours of cooking and add more seasonings if you think it needs it. I used a total of one tablespoons pepper.
Add one of the following for additional seasoning, one ham hock, ham bone, or slice of country ham cut into pieces.
Place lid on crock pot and cook on high for about 6-8 hours. make sure the beans stay covered with water, so check occasionally. If you need more water, then add it. The beans should have a soup consistency.
In 6 hours, test beans and if they are cooked. Remove ham bone and pull of the meat or remove meat from ham hock and serve. Don't forget the wedge of cornbread.