(NEXSTAR) — What makes you Texan?
No matter where your life takes you, you’ll always be a product of your environment to some degree. If you grew up in Texas, there are just some Lone Star State traditions and favorites you’ll always miss.
Here’s a list of some of the “Texas things” you’ll miss if and when you ever leave. While many of these things aren’t only in Texas, Texans know they’re better in Texas.
Kolaches and klobasnek
Czech influence on Texas food cannot be understated. One food item you may find yourself missing is a staple of breakfast (or just snack) time — the kolache. As Southern Living explains, these yeasty breaded treats (pronounced ‘ko-LAH-tch’) are carved out and filled with fruit preserves or cheese.
Kolaches can come in seemingly endless flavors, including cream cheese, poppyseed, cherry, and lemon — and all powdered with sugar.
Alternatively, you might be missing the kolache’s more serious older brother, klobasnek (‘KLO-bah-SNICK’).
For non-Texans, klobasniky (plural form) are created when the same dough used for kolaches is wrapped around a meat of some sort, typically smoked sausage or rolled up ham. You might find them as “pig in the blankets” elsewhere. While the two items are in fact different, in Texas, it’s not uncommon to just order “sausage kolaches,” however.
“The pain that every Texan outside of Texas knows is the lack of good (if any) kolaches/klobasnek, so I learned how to make those last week,” tweeted one now-New Yorker last year. Just a few days ago, another Twitterer said in awe, “Texas kolaches are truly a wonder. Nothing makes me feel like I’ve returned home more than a jalapeño cheddar or spicy boudin kolache.”
The grocery chain is known for its low-priced products, quality store-brand items and community outreach. As KDAF in Dallas explains, the now San Antonio-based Texas giant began with just one store in the Texas Hill Country in 1905 — its popularity has since soared, with over 420 stores having opened across both Texas and Mexico since then.
“I don’t think I wanna leave Texas again because HEB is the actual goat,” one Austinite tweeted. Meanwhile, another Texan said they “want to leave Texas, but I want HEB to come with me.”
“I definitely miss both H-E-B and Central Market,” former Texan Kate Clark told Nexstar. “The prices were always reasonable and H-E-B brand products were consistently high-quality. I haven’t found anything like it in Virginia.”
Just a few months ago, Texas TikTok went wild for an “H-E-B seafood hack,” that reminded everyone why they love the brand. “No store does more!” commented one user of that state-viral video, echoing H-E-B’s famous slogan.
Even though Mexican food exists everywhere, the particular brand you’ll find in Texas — Tex-Mex — will be harder to come by. Or at least, as Texans (and possibly some in Oklahoma) are expecting it.
A few Tex-Mex restaurant staples you might miss:
- Tacos de cabeza — Yes, they’re tacos filled with roasted cow head. But outside of California or Texas, you might have to settle for barbacoa tacos to satisfy the craving. While barbacoa is similar, it may not exactly be the ultra-greasy meat you want for breakfast
- Chile con carne
- “Queso” — also known as chile con queso — typically comes along with chips and salsa. As food news outlet Eater explains, queso differs from traditional Mexican cheese dips in that American cheese (or Velveeta) is used
New York-based writer Katelyn Beaty opined March 29: “Very sad to learn while in Texas that there can be too much of a good thing (queso). However, I will not stop eating Tex-Mex during my time here. Queso was what the Alamo was about.”
The iconic orange-and-white fast food chain is Texas’ signature burger joint — typically a Whataburger location is nearby and you can depend on the drive-thru, at minimum, being open. Texans’ Whata-devotion is even a lifestyle for some, including one Waco “superfan” who said she’s eaten Whataburger every day for 10 years.
“I don’t really have a second-runner up fast food place,” superfan Ashley Bean Thornton told Fox 44 in Waco.
But let’s say you’re not like Thornton and you take the chain for granted. Unfortunately, you may end up missing it still.
“I live in Texas, I never eat Whataburger. I leave Texas, I crave Whataburger… why am I like this?” one user mused. Whataburger itself weighed in with a solution in a 2016 reply, saying simply: “You can always just not leave Texas.”
Last year, comedian BJ Novak paid tribute to (and spoofed) Texans’ love for Whataburger in his thriller-comedy “Vengeance,” with several of its West Texas characters showcasing their love for the brand and its food.
When asked why they love the restaurant, the Texas family at the center of the film explained, “Wherever you are, there’s a Whataburger. It’s always right there.”
While barbecue joints across the country are likely to disagree — and there absolutely is great barbecue to be had elsewhere — Texas’ barbecue history and culture just doesn’t translate outside of the state.
Whether it’s Franklin Barbecue in east Austin or Salt Lick in Driftwood, Texas barbecue feels different than a lot that you might get somewhere else. A quintessential Texas taste: extra-smoky, char-crusted brisket is generally less common away from the state.
As writer Andy Rhodes explained for the Texas Historical Commission, Texas barbecue is largely influenced by African-American and German immigrant cooking customs, in addition to Mexican methods.
Texan Michelle Fernandez says she recently stopped for barbecue in Tennessee on a road trip.
“The place is packed, wait was long and it rated 4.5 on Yelp for barbecue,” Fernandez posted from the restaurant. “The place is very nice but ain’t Texas BBQ. It has no flavor and no smoke.”
Others online seem to agree.
“…The only BBQ worth eating outside of Texas is Kansas City’s. The rest of ya’ll can stop lying,” writer Joel D. Anderson said in 2020.
Marvel’s Shang-Chi (actor Simu Liu) himself took to Twitter back in 2020 to marvel at the meats in the Lone Star State, tweeting: “Being in Texas is getting punched in the face every time you step outside into the heat and then getting punched in the face again every time you step inside into the AC. The BBQ brisket is UNREAL THO.”
Pickles at the movie theater
Earlier this year, Nexstar posed the question: Why do Texans eat pickles at movie theaters — and why doesn’t everyone else? It turns out, a juicy dill pickle and a bucket of popcorn isn’t a quintessential movie snack pairing nationwide.
“Apparently, Texans have pickles for movie theater snacks. This is so bizarre to me,” tweeted one user. Meanwhile, one Texas-to-Florida resident wrote in 2018, “Today I learned that it’s only a Texas thing to sell pickles at the movie theater and I can’t decide if Texans are genius or just weird.”
Although many major theater chains in Texas may offer “pouched pickles” — pickles sold in plastic bags — the offering differs by location and the same chain may not offer them in out-of-state locations. To Texans, however, it might just not feel right if it’s not a fresh pickle from a jar.
Despite the increasing prevalence of non-traditional movie snacks (many chains now offer ice cream and full meals), pickles in theaters don’t seem to be catching on widely anytime soon.
“I have lived in New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and Florida. I have never seen pickles in a movie theater,” one Redditor replied in a “Does your state sell pickles at the movie theater?” thread. Another user joked: “I think a fight might break out if someone started chowing down on pickles in a NJ movie theater.”