Stories from Texas

Stories from Texas > All Episodes

February 10, 2016

Before We Had Social Media, We Had Dairy Queen

By: W.F. Strong

Texas has 600 Dairy Queens. About 20 percent of all Dairy Queens in the U.S. are in Texas. That’s a lot of Belt-Busters, y’all.

The oldest Dairy Queen in Texas is in Henderson. It opened in 1950.

Texas Monthly reported in 1979 that McDonald’s couldn’t get a foothold in small town Texas because DQ’s were the social, cultural and culinary centers of many towns. ¨People in small towns were particular about their food and particular about who served it to them, which was often a person who had been pouring the coffee there for twenty years and knew what people were gonna order before they ordered it. And they liked it that way.¨

Texas Dairy Queens have long had their own Texas menu. They were serving burgers when the rest of the country’s DQ’s were just selling soft serve ice cream.

DQ’s are among the most important institutions in small towns, right up there with school and church. It is often one of the few good places to eat and the primary meeting place in town. Bankers go there for coffee before the bank opens; Ranchers meet for lunch at DQ to discuss beef prices; school kids go there after school to see each other seeing other.

Before the internet, the Dairy Queen served as Facebook. If someone were “in a new relationship” it was announced nonverbally when Becky-Sue walked on Jim Bob’s arm, wearing his Football Letterman Jacket.

Or when Becky Sue broke up with Jim Bob, two months later, that too was announced when she arrived at DQ without Jim-Bob and without his jacket. Change in Relationship-formally announced.

Status Updates were shared in person, over coffee or by splitting a banana-split Sundae.

No one took pictures of their food. They simply looked over to the nearby booth and said, “I like what Carlos is havin´.”

Movie reviews were not posted anywhere, but they were developed in small groups sitting in a large, curved booth, eating burgers and fries right after they saw the film. Well, movie. No one used the word film, then.

Selfie’s were unheard of, and would have been regarded as immodest, anyway. But you could have someone else take a polaroid snapshot of you getting your 4H Best of Breed Trophy and the DQ people would post that on the quite real timeline bulletin board for all to see. They also posted pics of newborns and even weddings, the things Facebook and Instagram do now.

DQ’s don’t have as dominant a social role as they once did, but they still serve as the pit-stop parking lot for kids cruising the new version of “the drag” on weekends. But the social dimensions are handled by Instagram and Snapchat, the digital “drag” and the asphalt “drag,” working in harmony.

And DQ has gone international. You can go DQ in London or Paris. You can even go to DQ in Thailand, where you can get a vanilla cone – but you can’t get Texas Tacos.


May 8, 2024

An AI Experiment

There’s been a lot of talk lately about artificial intelligence — what it can do and what its limitations are. And if you’ve been keeping tabs on it at all, there’s no doubt that it seems to be getting better — and fast. Texas Standard commentator WF Strong wanted to find out for himself just […]


April 10, 2024

Counting Cattle With the Fathers

Longtime listeners may know — Texas Standard is fast approaching a milestone birthday. We’re turning 10 next March. With us almost from the beginning have been signature segments including the Typewriter Rodeo and Stories From Texas — these bi-weekly commentaries from WF Strong. He says he has a goal beyond entertainment.


March 13, 2024

The Other Hill Country

Over the next couple of months, many will set off for the Texas Hill Country to enjoy the splendor of the wildflowers celebrating spring. Many of the tourists are flatlanders, who not only love the kaleidoscope of colors but also driving the hilly roads that snake through billions of blossoms. Texas Standard Commentator WF Strong […]


February 28, 2024

The mystery of the Texas box

We’ve all heard the proverb about one man’s trash being another’s treasure. Well, for generations of a family now living in Texas, the treasure in question was an old box found discarded many years earlier. Texas Standard commentator W.F. Strong has the story.


February 14, 2024

Bonnie and Clyde: Star-synced lovers

February the 14th may be one of the more divisive days on the calendar. Though Valentine’s Day is meant to celebrate love — many find it cheesy, commercial, or downright depressing. Others, lean into the holiday. In the latter camp, it seems, were a pair infamous lovers from Texas. Texas Standard commentator WF Strong has […]


January 3, 2024

New Year’s Eve on Houston Street

Champagne toasts, fireworks, making resolutions, fancy meals… those are just some of the many ways Texans chose to to ring in 2024. Texas Standard commentator WF Strong, however, decided to welcome the New Year by reflecting on the past.


December 20, 2023

The Gift of the Tidelands

Texas Standard commentator W.F. Strong has a little holiday tradition. Every December he likes to count our collective blessings as Texans by highlighting a great gift to Texas. He says the tidelands were special because the giver didn’t realize how much goodness would continue to flow from them.


December 6, 2023

La Pitada

554 miles from AT&T Stadium you will find a Dallas Cowboys celebratory tradition that is unique in Texas. You might expect it in Dallas or Arlington, but to find this three decade tradition thriving in a Brownsville neighborhood, is both surprising and heart-warming. It is called La Pitada. Texas Standard commentator WF Strong has more.