Texas pride is nearly as big (perhaps bigger) than the Lone Star State itself. Anyone who has been to both Texas and the greater Southeast of the United States knows that although the two regions have a lot in common, certain terms and attributes are unique to Texas. In other words, all Texans are Southerners, but not all Southerners are Texans. You follow?
There are some things you just know if you’re a native Texan. The sky really is bigger, you’ve done the two-step in Gruene Hall, and Waylon, Willie, Stevie Ray, and Lyle are your buds.
With that in mind, we scoured the internet and consulted our Texas experts for the common experiences, attributes, and sayings that show you hail from the Lone Star State.
So grab a Whataburger and throw on your boots, and let’s head deep into the heart of Texas.
Texas is the largest state in the southern United States, covering an area of nearly 268,600 square miles. That’s more than 7.4 percent of the entire United States. The Texas portion of Interstate 10 is nearly 880 miles long from east to west and claims the highest numbered mile marker (880) of any North American freeway. When’s the next rest stop?
For many Texans a taste of this ice cream signals the beginning of summer. It’s simply the best in Texas and has achieved cult-like status. After multiple listeria outbreaks necessitated a temporary halt in production, “I survived the Blue Bell famine” T-shirts began appearing, and social media sites were plastered with the cries of weary Texans: “God Bless Blue Bell.”
You can find breakfast tacos and burritos anywhere and everywhere in Texas. Which is important, because breakfast is the most important meal of the day (especially when it’s topped with salsa). Representative Stephanie Klick has proposed a bill to the Texas State Legislature to designate breakfast tacos as "the official state breakfast item of Texas.”
You’ve probably heard “everything’s bigger in Texas,” but have you heard the phrase “bigger’n Dallas”? It’s short for “bigger than Dallas,” but the meaning is a bit more complicated than that. Sure, it can be used to refer to the enormous size of something (once upon a time, Dallas was the largest city in the state), but it can also be applied to something obvious or impossible to miss, with zero deniability. Such as, “I looked all over the house for the keys to my truck, yet there they were on the kitchen table, bigger’n Dallas.”
To say that football is deeply rooted in Texas culture would be a massive understatement. People take their local high school team just as seriously as college and the NFL. Many high school stadiums have their own “jumbotrons,” and the largest high school stadiums in the entire country can be found in Texas. Decatur, a small town in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, even moved Halloween up by a day, to October 30, so that it didn’t conflict with the final high school home game.
While many Texans mourned the day Astroworld permanently closed in October 2005, they are still able to comfort themselves by grabbing a corn dog and saying hi to Big Tex at the Texas State Fair. Every year, it draws an estimated 2.5 million visitors, many of whom come to taste the latest deep-fried offerings, which have included fried clam chowder and fried Jell-O.
Texans are crazy for Whataburger, and not just because there are thousands of ways to customize your burger (36,864 to be exact, according to a press release by Whataburger). They’re open 24 hours, so you can satisfy your cravings day and night. When he established the chain in 1950 in Corpus Christi, founder Harmon Dobson dreamed of every customer crying out, “What a burger!” The mere sight of the iconic orange-and-white-striped A-frame roof elicits watering mouths.
If you don’t hear what someone said, but prefer not to use the phrases “Excuse me?” or “Pardon?” it is perfectly acceptable in Texas to say, “Do what?” It can be used in almost any situation, even if the person talking to you is not describing an action. For example, if your friend casually remarks that the weather is “hotter than a stolen tamale,” and you’re not paying attention, you can simply ask, “Do what?”
Another name for a laundromat, the term “washateria” originated in Fort Worth, Texas, after Noah Brannen opened the first self-service laundry facility in 1936. It’s definitely a dated term, but one that is very much still in use among many Texans.
Dr Pepper is beloved by Texans, who know there’s no period after the “Dr” in “Dr Pepper.” The unique beverage originated at Morrison's Old Corner Drug Store in Waco, Texas. A young pharmacist named Charles Alderton is believed to have invented it when he tried to replicate the delicious scent in the air that resulted from the mixing of all the soda fruit syrups.
You know how everyone is familiar with the idea of extraterrestrial visitors, but the only people who allegedly get abducted are from rural areas? That’s kind of how it works for chupacabras. Meaning “goat-sucker” in Spanish, these legendary (and likely mythical) creatures attack and drink the blood of livestock, and have been spotted everywhere from Chile to Russia to Maine — however, a large majority of the stories seem to come from Texas. Most of the creatures in these cases turned out to be coyotes suffering from severe mange, but that doesn’t change the fact that the chupacabra legend is still alive and well in Texas, more so than anywhere else in the world.
Before refrigerators and freezers were invented, folks would use insulated boxes containing blocks of ice, which were aptly named “iceboxes.” Even though they have now been replaced with the aforementioned ubiquitous electronic appliances, some people in the South — Texas especially — will still use the old-school term when referring to the fridge section.
An artificial pool, pond, reservoir, or cistern used to hold water for livestock or irrigation is also called a tank, which is a term generally only used by those familiar with life on a ranch or farm — which are especially popular in Texas.
According to drivinglaws.org, Texas is “one of the minority of states that use a ‘prima facie’ or ‘presumed’ speed limit law. In states that use this system for all or some of their roads it’s legal to drive over the posted limit as long as you are driving safely.” You’ll only be occasionally slowed down by an armadillo, a relative of the anteater and sloth whose meat is apparently prized in some European countries. These little guys are harmless, and can be found digging in your garden — or else on the side or middle of the highway, not moving.
If you’re not from Texas, you probably have no idea what this is, and likely have never even heard the term before. Homecoming mums are basically elaborate corsages given by a student to his/her date to a dance, but there’s really nothing basic about them. These accessories are often bigger’n Dallas, with a dinner-plate-sized portion at the top (which can include flowers, bows, stuffed animals, and even LED lights), as well as streamers, ribbons, and/or strings of feathers that can extend down for several feet. These are usually given to the girls, with the guys receiving similar, smaller ones (called “garters”), which they pin on their sleeves.
It’s beef (often tenderized cube steak), that’s coated in seasoned flour and deep fried, and served smothered in creamy, peppered gravy. Chicken-fried steak is a Texan delicacy, and blood runs hot when debating which diner serves the best. October 26 was officially declared "Chicken-Fried Steak Day" by the Texas State House of Representatives.
A traditional Texas putdown, “all hat, no cattle” (or, alternately, “big hat, no cattle”) refers to someone who is all talk with no action, power, or substance behind his/her words. Former Texas Governor Ann Richards famously used this phrase to describe President George W. Bush.
Tornados and severe thunderstorms are quite common across the state and can produce giant hail. Cricket outbreaks are also an annual occurrence in the late summer and early fall. When frightened, spider crickets (also called “criders”) jump directly towards whatever has scared them. You know not to bend down for a closer look.