Strictly Texan: Distinctly Texas things that outsiders just don’t get

Texas state flag stock image. (Pixabay)

Here we’ll discuss the particular allure of foods shaped in the image of our beloved state, our head-over-heels love affair with H-E-B and a bunch of other characteristics, phenomena and what-have-you unique to the Lone Star State and its people.

So without further ado, and in no particular order, here are some of the distinctly Texas things outsiders just don’t get.

Tex-Mex: it’s the national cuisine of Texas (Yes, you read that right)

Who doesn’t love a breakfast burrito choc-full of refried beans and cheddar cheese? Not your fancy? How ‘bout one of these: Yellow-cheese enchiladas, fajitas, puffy tacos, nachos, flautas, chile con carne (a.k.a. chili.). It’s our breakfast of champions, our comfort food, our hangover cure, late night snack, etc. Some of us (yours truly included) manage to eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner without skipping a beat. It’s cultural significance is undeniable and its ubiquity inescapable. Walk into any of the state’s Mexican restaurants and you’re liable to find at least a few Tex-Mex dishes on the menu if not realize that despite all the establishment’s claims of authenticity, you are in factactually in a Tex-Mex restaurant. We’ve all been fooled at least once and likely didn’t mind a bit.

Really, there’s honestly no way to quantify just how much guac and queso the average Texan consumes annually (Who can keep count?) but we surmise it’s a heck of a lot.

We’re at peace with the fact that it’ll likely take us at least 20 minutes to get wherever we’re going

Whether it’s a new restaurant a few neighborhoods over (Austin, Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, we’re looking at you) or an entirely different town, we’re at peace with the fact that it often takes us AT LEAST 20 minutes to get anywhere in this massive state so big it can fit multiple European countries within its borders. Heck, the distance from Houston to Dallas is about the same distance from Paris to London. San Diego is closer to El Paso than Houston is. Catching on? We’re so at one with this reality, we measure distance from place to place in time, not miles.

The taste of Texas, well, Texas-shaped food to be exact

There’s almost nothing more Texas than Texas’s love for Texas and when it comes to dining here in the good ol’ Lone Star State, we don’t just value Texas-sized servings, we like our food Texas-shaped too. Pasta, pie, pretzels, tortilla chips, cheese, chicken nuggets, cheeseburgers and even steak -- Trust us it’s all tastier Texas-shaped. Nothing says state pride (and more on Texas pride to come) quite like consuming food made in the image of your beloved state right?

Texans’ cultish love for H-E-B is an unparalleled romance outsiders can’t even begin to wrap their minds around

For us Texans, “No store does more than my H-E-B” isn’t just a slogan. It’s a mantra each of us holds in our heart of hearts. Our love affair with the chain is a romance outsiders frankly cannot and will not understand. And make no mistake, out-of-staters aren’t to blame. They’ve never nibbled on warm, fresh-made flour tortillas while grocery shopping, feasted on Sushiya San Antonio Rolls in the parking lost just minutes after finishing the aforementioned grocery shopping or snacked on Texas-shaped tortilla chips loaded with store-made guac after returning home. Poor, unfortunate non-residents simply have no mode of comparison. H-E-B is the nation’s favorite grocery store after all.

Oh yeah, remember those aforementioned Texas-shaped foods? You can snag most of them at an H-E-B near you.

We talk Texan and we’ve got our own way of pronouncin’ things ‘round these parts

For example:

You all = Y’all / How do you do = Howdy

Some of our town names prove particularly difficult, even among natives:

Burnet = Burn-it / Humble = Um-bull / Manor = May-ner / Leakey = Lay-key / Miami = My-am-ah / Palestine = Pal-ess-steen / Waxahachie = Wawks-uh-hatch-ee

Still not getting the hang of it? Read this.

Texans first. Americans second.

When we travel we’re likely to introduce ourselves as Texans. If pressed, sure we’ll confess to being Americans too but we’re citizens of the Lone Star State first and foremost.

The unofficial soft drink of Texas? Yup, you guessed it. It’s Dr Pepper.

If you’re a Texan, you’re born a Dr Pepper fan by default, plain and simple. Sure, through the years we’ve seen our share of dissenters and rabble-rousers (ahem, Pepsi and Coca-Cola fans, we do mean you) but all in all, Dr Pepper remains our sugary, carbonated beverage of choice. It compliments brisket just as well as it accents a scoop of Blue Bell ice cream. It’s a distinctly Texas drink with roots in the state and it’s even got it’s own museum in Waco. In summary outsiders, while you’re here, order Dr Pepper and were bound to get along just fine. And we might just mistake you for a native.

God bless Texas and all the homecoming mums

As you likely know, everything’s bigger in Texas, and the traditional homecoming mum is no exception. Gone are the simple chrysanthemums of yesteryear. Nowadays, mums are ginormous, jingly creations festooned with rhinestone letters, bells, ornaments, ribbons, boas and even stuffed animals. It’s a tradition just about every teenage girl in the Lone Star State knows, loves and looks forward to, or, at least reluctantly participates in. Girls spend days, if not weeks designing and assembling elaborate creations, often collaborating with their mothers or commissioning expensive mums from savvy crafters cashing in on the craze. In the Fall, many a Saturday afternoons are spent traversing the aisles of Hobby Lobby on the hunt for anything glossy or glittery. It might just be the most meme-able thing about us Texans but we don’t mind.

We go full-on cowboy at the rodeo each year

What Texan doesn’t love carnival rides, petting zoos, mutton bustin’ and eating fried concoctions on a stick? Do we even need to explain why this one’s on the list? No, we don’t, but we will give it a go anyway. A thing you should know about Texas: It’s gaga over the rodeo. Like head-over-cowboy-boot-heels in love. The rodeo is a Texas tradition and a rite of passage. Sure, there are rodeos outside of Texas but they just don’t compare. Case in point: The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo proudly proclaims itself as the largest in the world. So if you were ever going to go to one, wouldn’t you want to go to that one?

Christmastime means tamale time in Texas

Forget the Yule Log . . . whatever that is. A Texas Christmas would be incomplete without tamales. The masa and and stuffing filled treat is a holiday staple and it comes in infinite variations (some better than others), from pork-filled bastions of traditions to, well, less conventional adaptations like portobello and polenta tamales.

Buc-ee’s: the gold-standard for roadside convenience stores

Texans, yours truly included (and more about that below), love Buc-ees and we love talkin’ ‘bout how much we love Buc-ees. We’re head-over-cowboy-boot- heels for its seemingly endless rows of gas pumps, cleaner-than-average bathrooms, and bigger-than-believable snack selection. The gold-standard for roadside convenience stores that is Buc-ees is a destination unto itself. Y’all, it serves fresh-made brisket sandwiches, sausage and an array of kolaches (Yes, we know the meat-filled ones are actually klobásníky. Don’t be that person). Name a more Texas convenience store. We’ll wait.

Gather round for a story demonstrating just how fervent on particular Texan’s love for Buc-ees is: I’m only kind of ashamed to admit that once while on a road trip, I foolishly, stubbornly passed a string of gas stations attempting to hold out for a Buc-ee’s, only to run out of gas and strand myself along the side of the highway during my search. Yeah, my all-consuming love for the convenience store chain is that blind. The irony of running out of gas while looking for a gas station is not lost on me and the rough part was (well, aside from the sweltering Texas heat) I had stranded myself just two miles from the nearest Buc-ees. So close yet so far. And yes, hours later, after my husband had come to my rescue, a funnel and gas container in hand, I drove to Buc-ees and bought myself some Dippin’ Dots.

A uniquely Texan sense of state pride

We’re proud to live in Texas. Our pride annoys some outsiders and baffles others but make no mistake, it’s no show. Texas pride is an emotion widely held and deeply felt among us. It’s a phenomenon that’s just as big as, well, Texas.


What did we miss? What would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments below.

About the Author:

Briana Zamora-Nipper joined the KPRC 2 digital team in 2019. When she’s not hard at work in the KPRC 2 newsroom, you can find Bri drinking away her hard earned wages at JuiceLand, running around Hermann Park, listening to crime podcasts or ransacking the magazine stand at Barnes & Noble.