In April 2001, a joint decision passed the Texas House and Senate that declared Whataburger, the nation’s loved fast-food chain, to be a “Texas Treasure.” In the most Texan style imaginable, the invoice honoring the burger organization changed into added by the country chair of the Texas Public Health Committee. “They deserve credit score for taking pictures the hearts — and flavor buds — of tens of millions of Texans, inclusive of many within the House of Representatives,” Rep. Jaime Capelo stated within the preamble to the vote. (The measure handed with bipartisan help.)
Nearly twenty years later, it stays proper that throughout Texas’ political disparate spectrum, Whataburger may be the only aspect that Ted Cruz and Beto O’Rourke should both admit to loving. But an overdue remaining week, the nation’s devotion to Whataburger got here under critical stress whilst the 69-year-antique, own family-owned agency bought its controlling hobby to a Chicago-primarily based funding firm. The information inspired all measures of betrayal-themed responses. “Whataburger’s been bought to the Yanks,” Texas Monthly offered. “What a disaster,” examines one Houston-location headline. On Twitter, Houston Texans superstar J.J. Watt counseled that fans laid low with the sale unite to buy the franchise returned and to feature kolaches to the menu. (Texas Governor Greg Abbott responded to Watt with the aid of tweeting a picture of George W. Bush driving a select-up truck with the caption, “Get in J.J., We’re saving Whataburger.”) Elsewhere, memes depicting heartbreak and offense have been circulated. “182 men didn’t die at The Alamo just so we could supply @Whataburger over to Chicago,” went any other representative tweet.
This ferocious display of grief shouldn’t be unexpected. Though Texan pride itself may be notorious and intense, strongly felt passion for local fast food is nearly a countrywide rite. After all, regional chains are the unsung heroes of the short-food enterprise; they reside in semi-obscurity nationally, taking pictures the quirks and particularities of a place. They don’t seek out mass attraction within the way a country wide chain like McDonald’s or Burger King does. Instead, a 3-way mishmash of chili, spaghetti, and cheese at Skyline Chili makes experience to an Ohioan inside the manner that a blueberry biscuit at Bojangles makes sense to someone from the Southeast.
One overarching irony is that fast-food chains are often characterized as corporate and impersonal. But what their ubiquity breeds are familiarity and what their all-hours accessibility creates is the possibility for ritual. Growing up in Texas, my Whataburger ritual befell in excessive college whilst, almost without fail, my pals and I could pile into our motors and drive to Whataburger each weekend night time. We’d arrive at eleven p.M., while the chain could begin serving breakfast and we’d order taquitos — beautiful, eggy, tacky concoctions wrapped in heat tortillas and served with branded Picante sauce that’s so properly it’s bought in local grocery stores.
If we had sufficient time to spare earlier than our curfews, my pals and I could move internally to consume them. The cashier would hand us small numbered plastic table tents to hold at the same time as we waited for our orders, markers that, if you had been 16, you may sneak into your pocket to beautify your room with later. Then we’d all jam right into a sales space and eat our taquitos and talk about the otherworldly basketball exploits of Hakeem Olajuwon or the unremarkable drama of our romantic lives. If we had been jogging not on time, there has been continually the drive-thru. And if the pressure-through line becomes packed because of a concert, a high faculty football sport, the rodeo or the frequent 11 p.M. Weigh down, we’d simply pace toward the next Whataburger, which become by no means extra than an 8-minute force away.
This rite strikes at some other glory of regional rapid food: how an experience can experience both unique and accepted at the identical time. As a Texas child, I felt the way about Whataburger as a kid inside the Midwest might have felt approximately Steak ‘n Shake as a child in North Carolina would possibly have felt about Cook Out as a child in California may have felt about In-N-Out as a kid in Wisconsin might have felt about Culver’s, and so on.