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The Top 12 Texas Junk Foods: 1981 and Now

The Frito pie has earned its place on both lists.
The Frito pie has earned its place on both lists.
Photo by Troy Fields

Assistant music editor Craig Hlavaty recently purchased a 1981 edition of The Genuine Texas Handbook, a guide to all things Texan. It's an often-tongue-in-cheek look at the people, places, outfits, songs, foods and more that made someone Texan 31 years ago. Incidentally, the book and I are the same age, so we'll be featuring excerpts from the handbook's food chapter (entitled, fittingly, "Love & Lard") over the next few weeks to see how Texas has changed during the course of this food writer's lifetime.

At the beginning of The Genuine Texas Handbook's food section, author Rosemary Kent points out that there are only three truly Texan food groups -- barbecue, Tex-Mex and chicken fried steak -- to which the majority of the coverage in "Love & Lard" is dedicated. "The Big Food Three," as she calls them, "are Texas's most distinguished contributions to American cuisine."

"All are basic, unpretentious, genuine and cheap," Kent writes, attributes which we, as Texans, still admire to this day.

However, in an opening sidebar, Kent admits a preference for what she calls the 12 Texas Junk Foods:

Moon Pies and RC Cola: Junk food of the past?
Moon Pies and RC Cola: Junk food of the past?
Photo by Chris Devers
1. Peanuts in Dr Pepper 2. Beef jerky 3. Frozen Snickers 4. Moon Pies 5. Corn dogs 6. Cream gravy poured over white bread, dotted with catsup, and cut into pieces 7. Frito pie 8. Pickled pigs' feet 9. Corn bread crumbled into a glass of buttermilk and eaten with an iced tea spoon 10. Jalapeño-stuffed olives 11. Hot dip made with Ro-tel tomatoes and Velveeta cheese 12. Hot okra pickles

Although it wasn't called queso at the time, we can all recognize the 11th entry on the list, which would still remain on a current list of favorite Texas junk foods. (Probably in the very first spot, at that.)

But others haven't stood the test of time as gracefully...

 

Illinois-based or not, the red Dairy Queen logo is still the "Texas stop sign."
Illinois-based or not, the red Dairy Queen logo is still the "Texas stop sign."
Photo by Nomadic Lass

My grandparents were the last people I knew to crumble cornbread into buttermilk and my father is the only person I know who fetishizes Moon Pies anymore (he sneak-buys them at the grocery store and eats them in his office where my mother can't see him). Ditto the pickled pigs' feet and the cream gravy poured over white bread.

What would be on the 2012 list of Top 12 Texas Junk Foods? Along with some carryovers from 1981, here's our crack at it:

1. Queso 2. Kolaches 3. Pimiento cheese sandwiches on white bread 4. Corn dogs 5. Biscuits and cream gravy 6. Dairy Queen Blizzard 7. Onion rings 8. Chili 9. Breakfast tacos 10. Dr Pepper (with or without the peanuts) 11. Frito pie 12. Texas sheet cake

What would be on your list?



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