Only in Texas | KERA News

Only in Texas

David J. Phillip / Associated Press

Most everyone is stuck indoors and going stir-crazy — there are only so many shows to binge, board games to play and recipes to test. Fortunately, you can take a tour of Texas’ most notable landmarks from your couch.

Gwin and Ryan Huey eat corny dogs in front of Big Tex at the State Fair of Texas before the annual Red River Showdown college football game between Texas and Oklahoma. Almost 80 years after the corny dog's debut, the snack is a traditional Fair snack.
Associated Press

Foods we consider familiar today were once considered novel at the time of their State Fair of Texas debuts — long before the era of Fried Coke, the Texas Twang-Kie and Big Red Chicken Bread.

From Texas Standard:

Whataburger ranks No. 7 among the country's Top 10 burger chains. But here in Texas, few brands, burger or otherwise, inspire as much loyalty. News that the company has hired investment bank Morgan Stanley to "explore our options," which it said in a statement to the San Antonio Business Journal, has many fans worried about its future. Whataburger's motivation isn't clear, but expansion could be on the menu.

A red neon Pegasus was placed on top of the Magnolia Oil building, now the Magnolia Hotel, in 1934. Photo date unknown.
City of Dallas Historic Preservation

When Mark Doty ran across a collection of 35mm slides that had been sitting in city of Dallas storage for decades, he had no idea if the scans would turn up anything interesting.

They most definitely did — including old construction photos of City Hall, the iconic building designed by architect I.M. Pei, who died this past week.

Where Is Texas' Growing Population Coming From?

May 9, 2019
A "Welcome to Texas" sign along eastbound Interstate 40 entering Deaf Smith County from Quay County, New Mexico.
Famartin/Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. Census Bureau’s latest population estimates confirmed what many Texans already knew: People are still flocking to the Lone Star State.

What’s the first food item that jumps into your head when you think of Texas? BBQ? Queso? Breakfast tacos?

All reasonable choices. But you’d be missing the obvious, a food item that bears the name of the state: Texas toast.

The year was 1994, and a newspaper ad led to the formation of the long-running Western swing band Hot Club of Cowtown—in New York City. You might think it an odd place to hear the songs of Bob Wills, but to hear guitarist Whit Smith tell it, “God just put me there,” he says. Smith had answered the call from fiddler Elana James, and it wasn’t too much longer that bassist Jake Erwin joined.

Bluebonnets and Texas Indian paintbrush in Ennis, Texas

It's wildflower season in North Texas. And Tiana Rehman says the season is more than just beautiful flowers like bluebonnets or wine cups along highways.

About 100 miles northwest of Dallas-Fort Worth, past pastures of crops and cattle, sits Nocona, Texas, population 3,000, home to the Nokona baseball glove factory, one of the last baseball glove factories in the United States.

How Austin Got Weird

Mar 15, 2019

Austin is a lot more than just the annual stampede of South By Southwest currently enveloping it, which the event has done with ever-increasing intensity since 1987. But how did this city, one that has such an ineffable but palpable personality and spirit, become what it is — for better and worse?

The series of special events marking 183 years since the Mexican Army's siege of the Alamo and the struggle to defend it ends on Wednesday.

Palo Duro Canyon State Park, located in the Texas Panhandle
Texas Parks & Wildlife

Just ahead of Spring Break 2019, the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department has made it easier to go online and book specific campsites, cabins and shelters.

A Quest To Find The Origin Of The Mum

Oct 26, 2018

From Texas Standard:

First, to make sure we’re all on the same page, homecoming mums are something that vaguely resemble a chrysanthemum corsage. From this fluffy centerpiece comes a stream of decorations: ribbons, braids, trinkets, pennants, teddy bears, Christmas lights – the gaudier and bigger the better. Giving a mum or a garter – that’s the smaller version boys wear on their arms – to your homecoming date is a uniquely Texas tradition. It is the type of thing that, when presented to non-Texans, typically elicits this kind of response:

Bill Zeeble / KERA News

About 100 miles northwest of Dallas-Fort Worth, after passing untold pastures of crops and cattle, sits the town of Nocona, Texas, population 3,000. It’s home of the Nokona baseball glove factory — the only one still operating in the United States.

What's In Season In Texas: A Quick Guide

Jun 4, 2018

Eating a ripe, juicy peach — from a fruit stand, a farmer's market or a grocery store — is a summertime ritual for many Texans. 

While we can get peaches and most produce all year round, the best chance to eat homegrown fruits and vegetables at their peak is knowing their typical season. 

Adam Simmons / Flickr Creative Commons

Summer weather in North Texas waits for no one. The long, hot, sunny days are already here.  

One way to treat early symptoms of summer heat? Take a dip into a local lake or swimming hole. And North Texas has plenty of places to dive in and make a splash — all while enjoying the great outdoors.

Warning: This story contains allusions to language that some people may find offensive.

Starting at $150 a year, the State of Texas will let you personalize the license plate on your vehicle, but the combination of letters and numbers cannot invoke anything the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles considers to be indecent.


Texas is a big, beautiful, eclectic state. 

It's full of stories, told and untold, and cultural complexities that have implications beyond its borders. That's why the Lone Star State is often a subject of KERA's hourlong talk show, "Think." 

From Texas Standard.

Every spring, wildflowers bring Texans and visitors alike out of their homes for all kinds of photo ops. It’s not uncommon to see dozens of cars parked along Texas highways as families pose in patches of bluebonnets.

WFAA / Via SMU's film and video collection

The folks at the G. William Jones Film & Video Collection at Southern Methodist University unearthed a bit of historic KERA footage on Sunday.

Lara Solt / KERA News special contributor

For all of you white Christmas hopefuls, know that a typical Dec. 25 in North Texas reaches the mid-50s with little-to-no measurable precipitation.

But as National Weather Service records show, sometimes the biggest surprise on Christmas Day can be the weather.

Boo: The Rise And Fall Of Texas Ghost Towns

Oct 30, 2017

From Texas Standard:

You’ve seen them as you drive along lonely Texas highways or tucked away in the odd corner of an otherwise urban landscape. They're the bones of once-loved homes, cemeteries overgrown with weeds, even whole towns that time forgot: They're ghost towns.

Liz / Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

History has molded Texas — literally — to form today's unmistakable shape with its sharp angles of the Panhandle, sweeping curves along Mexico and jagged edges near the Red River and the Gulf.

Now, nearly 170 years since the state's borders were defined, we eat Texas-shaped waffles, swim in Texas-shaped pools and sleep on Texas-shaped pillows.

Nick Fox / Shutterstock

Route 66, the “Mother Road” that connected Chicago to Los Angeles, and runs through the Texas Panhandle, could soon be dropped from a National Park Service preservation program.

Graphic by Molly Evans / KERA News

Five stories that have North Texas talking: Lawmaker wants Texans to stop using the Chilean flag emoji inaccurately; taxpayers may be funding pensions of convicted former elected officials; SMU professor takes on “La La Land"; and more.

Jimmy Emerson /

Hitting the road anytime soon?

Across Texas, you’ll pass through scores of towns. Some are poetic – Glen Rose, Pecan Plantation, Enchanted Oaks.

Maybe you’ll drive through the trio of sisters in Collin County – Melissa, Anna and Josephine.

There’s Sunrise and Sunset. A place called Paradise. There’s even Elmo and Kermit!

But you’ll also pass through Texas towns with some strange names.

Texas Independence Day is March 2. (On that day, back in 1836, the Texas Declaration of Independence was adopted at Washington-on-the-Brazos.) So, to celebrate, the KERA News staff figured we’d come up with a list of quintessential Texas experiences – a list of things you should do in the Lone Star State before you kick the bucket.


The English language can be pretty confusing to even native speakers. Vowel sounds change depending on the word. There are letters that are silent in some words, but not in others. However, one of the biggest linguistic debates centers around the lack of a second-person plural pronoun.


Forget ghosts and goblins. Nothing strikes fear quite like death, which is why there are a lot of superstitions about it. Those superstitions are the focus of a book called "Death Lore: Texas Rituals, Superstitions, and Legends of the Hereafter." Nordland

Five stories that have North Texas talking: Norwegians are crazy for Texas; a Plano family sleeps in one big bed; Fort Worth police stop a DeLorean – kind of; and more.