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Texans love to chow down on some Frito Pie.
While some say Frito Pie was invented in New Mexico, and others claim it was invented in Texas, today it’s a staple at sports concession stands across the Lone Star State. It’s even made it onto restaurant menus.
So what’s Frito Pie? In most parts of the country, Fritos are just a bag of chips, but in Texas, they turn Fritos into something even tastier. Texans cut open the Frito bag and fill it with chili, cheese, and onions. The Frito pie is so popular in Texas that it has even been nicknamed the “Texas straw hat.”
Kolaches, a Czech pastry, is a staple in Texas cuisine.
When Czech immigrants settled in Texas in the 1800s, they brought their recipes with them. Their kolaches recipe “took Texas by storm,” as NPR puts it, and have lasted the test of time.
Kolaches are doughy pastries that are filled with any mixture of fruits, cheese, sausages, and jalapeños. The sweet and savory bites can be found in bakeries and stores all over the state.
Fried gator can also be found on menus in the Lone Star State.
The town of Anahuac is called the “Alligator Capital of Texas,” and for good reason. The AP reported that alligators outnumber humans three to one in the town. Texans put all that alligator to good use: fried gator meat. One restaurant chain, Razzoo’s, says fried alligator tail is one of its most popular menu items.
Although Whataburger is all over the US now, it is quintessential Texas.
The first Whataburger opened in Texas in 1950. The food stand became famous for its giant burgers that required two hands to hold. Eventually, the Texan family business expanded throughout the South. There are now locations in states like Alabama, Arizona, Florida, and Georgia, but the company is still headquartered in San Antonio, Texas.
Buc-ee’s is an extremely popular quasi pit stop and grocery store in Texas.
When Business Insider correspondent Kate Taylor visited a Buc-ee’s in 2019, she wrote, “Buc-ee’s was like wandering into a mix of a Walmart, a barbecue-centric deli, and the Texas tourism bureau, plus a dash of the Cracker Barrel general store.”
The massive store can be found all over Texas and has a cult-like following. The chain expanded outside its home state to Alabama for the first time in 2019.
H-E-B is a Texas grocery store that some call the best in America.
When H-E-B originally opened, the initials stood for Howard E. Butt, the founder of the chain. Today, however, it reportedly stands for “Here, Everything’s Better,” but the store is known for selling private-label products that can’t be found anywhere else. The chain has over 340 locations in Texas and Mexico, but Epicurious says H-E-B is the best grocery store in the country.
The Texas State Fair has been an annual tradition for 134 years.
Since 1886, Texans have flocked to Dallas at the end of September to celebrate the Texas State Fair, although it was canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19. This massive event celebrates every piece of Texan culture, highlighting local foods and entertainment. From the Ferris wheel to the petting zoo, the Texas State Fair has become a staple in the state.
The SXSW Music and Film Festival is one of the most important cultural events every year, and it only takes place in Texas.
The first SXSW festival was held in Austin in 1987, immediately becoming a popular cultural event that celebrates music, tech, and movies. SXSW is now a major event on the calendar: In 2019, the festival had 232,258 attendees, 4,799 conference speakers, and 1,964 musical acts. Last year, it was canceled due to the coronavirus, and this year, it went digital.
Texas is home to the best-rated water park in the world: Schlitterbahn.
While there are water parks all over the world, Texas is the only state that has Schlitterbahn, the world’s best water park. The parks, which are located in New Braunfels and Galveston, have some of the world’s top water rides, including the Master Blaster, The Falls, and the Congo River Expedition.
Texas is home to the highest speed limit — a speed limit found in no other state.
They say everything is bigger in Texas, but they’re also faster. On State Highway 130 in Texas, the legal driving limit is 85 mph, which is the highest limit in the country.
In Texas, you’ll hear locals greet each other by saying “howdy.”
“Nowadays, ‘howdy’ is firmly planted in the Texas lexicon, or, if you will, the Texicon, right up there at the top of a long list that includes ‘fixin’,’ ‘tump,’ ‘y’all,’ and ‘yahoo,’ among many others,” David Courtney at Texas Monthly wrote in 2018. “‘Howdy’ is indeed the official greeting at Texas A&M University, although nobody knows the origins of the tradition. The word is also the focus of countless postcards, coffee mugs, T-shirts, and all sorts of other Texas-branded gewgaw.”
In Texas, people call laundromats “washateria.”
Between 1930 to 1950, a chain of self-service laundromats called Washateria opened in Texas. Although they are closed today, the name stuck, and Texans still call laundromats “washateria.”
During homecoming in high school, girls wear large, elaborate “mums” that are uniquely Texan.
In the Lone Star state, homecoming is a big event. A tradition dating back to the ’50s, high school boys would give their dates a flower that they would pin to their shirts during homecoming week.
Today, high schoolers are still wearing their “mums” during homecoming, but those flowers have become more elaborate and larger than in the past. They now wear fully customizable mums that can drape to the floor, come in every shape and color, and have stuffed animals in them to show their school pride.