I grew up in Houston, Texas. I don't know how my family got to the United States, because every branch of my family has lived here for several generations at least. In fact, most, if not all of my traceable ancestors come from the American South. So when I migrated to New York to attend Fordham University, that was the biggest geographic shift in my family's history for at least a century.
I have a complicated relationship with Texas. I love many of its unique qualities. It's the only state that was once a sovereign country. Its shape is iconic. It's got a tough yet environmentally conscious slogan: "Don't Mess With Texas." And these are just a few of many examples.
But I have my fair share of reservations with the state. I deplore its history of racism. I take umbrage with the anti-intellectual attitude taken by many of our elected officials. The rodeo is underwhelming.
Still, I can't help but occasionally feel nostalgia for the state where everything is inexplicably bigger. And to me, the institution that encapsulates the things I love about Texas is Whataburger.
Whataburger, a Texas-based fast food restaurant, is a cheap, omnipresent establishment which serves juicy burgers and comically oversized soft drinks 24 hours a day. It's always there for you when you need it. I have fond memories there of late-night visits, road trips, and comfort runs after a bad day at school.
This Whataburger tumbler, which my parents got me for Christmas, keeps my water cold and my heart in Texas.
– Chandler Dean