I’ve said it before and I’ll say it forever: Texas is like its own country. Growing up as a military brat (and having massive wanderlust), I’ve lived in a fair number of places both in and out of the United States. When I first moved to Texas though, I found myself experiencing culture shock within my home country.
What WAS this strange place that my family had decided to relocate to? What in god’s name were Aggies, Big Reds and Whataburgers? What was this strange dialect they were speaking? “Fixin’ ta” “Howdy” and “all Y’all” were not things I thought people actually said. Even the Spanish was different here! Chanclas, Chones and Wachale were words that I heard often but had no clue what they meant. And I speak Spanish!
I had never lived anywhere where people pride themselves on being from a certain place and it took some getting used to. Now, coming back after living abroad for three years, the Texas pride is surprising me all over again
You can see the love for this state everywhere. DON’T MESS WITH TEXAS WOMEN proclaims a bumper sticker on a bright red sports car. A Cadillac with PURO PINCHE SPURS etched into the back windows rolls by proudly. SECEDE reads another bumper sticker slapped on the back window of a huge rumbling truck – the message almost completely obstructed by the mounted gunrack.
The Texas flag is plastered on everything from T-shirts to belt buckles to enormous plastic drinking cups. It is not uncommon to see it painted on the curbs in front of houses along with the address.
The thing that continues to surprise me the most about Texas, though, is the advertising. Turn on a TV here and you’re sure to see at least two commercials boasting about their product being the ‘Best in Texas’.
It still feels very surreal to watch commercials that are catered specifically to the Lone Star State. It’s like I’m in a sort of purgatory bubble that separates me from the outside United States of America.
Dairy Queen, for example, is almost unrecognizable to me. When I lived in Las Vegas, Dairy Queen was a just a place to get ice cream. Maybe if you were dying of hunger and not worried about E-Coli you could maybe be convinced to eat there…maybe.
Here in Texas, though? Dairy Queen seems to be something of a staple restaurant. A Texan friend once told me that a town isn’t considered ‘real’ unless it has a Dairy Queen. We then proceeded to have a rather heated argument about whether or not it was from Texas. He swore up and down that DQ had started and was only in this state. For the record, it’s from Illinois (but interestingly enough, the franchise DOES have the most stores in Texas).
Of course there were Dairy Queens in other places. I couldn’t believe that I had had to defend something I thought was common sense. That is, until I saw one of the Dairy Queen commercials for myself. The ad touted chicken strips and white gravy – something that I had never seen anywhere else.
“For the best tasting eats and drinks in Texas…” the announcer twanged as thick slices of Texas Toast bounced across the screen, “…DQ just tastes better!”. At the end, the logo appeared in front of a waving Texas flag while a country singer crooned “DEEE CUUUE THAT’S WHAT I LIKE ABOUT TEXASSSS”.
Dairy Queen isn’t the only company to have this kind of marketing, either. Major truck companies have ads that claim: “FORD: THE BEST IN TEXAS” or “BIGGER IN TEXAS…BETTER IN A DODGE”. These commercials are often packed with so much Texan imagery that I feel like I’m going to choke on a tumbleweed whenever I watch them.
It seems that advertisers have come up with a brilliant strategy – the seal of TEXAS. The concept of TEXAS has in itself become a sort of product that companies successfully slap on their product and sell en masse. With so many ads that are targeted to a very specific (albeit enormous) population,is it any wonder that Texans like my friend believe so staunchly that things revolve around the Lone Star State?
Ethnocentrism aside, when it comes to state pride, Texans are by far the clear winners. Ironically though, Lone Star denizens seem to be the only ones who feel this way about Texas. In a recent Business Insider survey, Texas was voted the least favorite state in the union. Perhaps a bit harsh, but oddly enough it was also voted one of the nicest states in the same survey.
In my time here, I’ve learned that many Texans don’t really care what anyone else thinks about them. Personally, I find the omnipresent reminders of where I live both obnoxious and endearing at the same time. As I continue to readjust, I’m cringing less and less when I hear things like “All y’all” and “Just Like You Like It”.
I’m remembering that, while Texas isn’t perfect, it’s really not a bad place. And with so much here to explore in this ginormous state, it’s almost impossible to not find something to like.
So, while I still can’t drink Big Red and I couldn’t care less about football of any sort, I’m enjoying myself here. Living in Texas is definitely an experience like no other and I’m just along for the ride.
- Survey Says: Texas Is The Least Favorite U.S. State (dfw.cbslocal.com)