Welcome to Fun Facts About the 50 States, where – week by week – I’ll be taking you on a tour around this great nation of ours, providing you with interesting, yet completely useless and probably untrue, information about each of the 50 states.
This week, we’ll be wondering whether the locals are just kidding when they offer us a bowl of jalepeno ice cream as we visit Texas. So let’s get started…
* Texas became the 28th state on December 29th, 1845 after the US won it from Mexico in – ironically – a game of Texas Hold ‘em.
* Although the Texas justice system is sometimes criticized for having “too many” executions, the truth is that most Texas prisoners prefer death to the alternative sentence of “life without the possibility of an oversized belt buckle”.
* Texas license plates have dark blue numbers on a white background and contain the tourism slogan “All the oil, without all the burkhas”.
* The state flower of Texas is the Bluebonnet. It WAS the yellow rose until the RIAA sued the state for copyright infringement.
* Texas gets its name from a Caddo Indian word meaning “short swim to a welfare check”.
* Texas has a population of nearly 21 million people, all of whom are ashamed to be from the same state as the Dixie Chicks.
* President Dwight Eisenhower was born in Denison, Texas. He was the last elected American President who didn’t need to check his pockets for a comb before a press conference.
* The state tree of Texas is the gallows.
* The Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, is the place where a grossly outnumbered contingent of Texans fought to the death against an overwhelming force of Mexican troops in 1836. Much as modern-day beer kegs currently wage their valiant yet inevitably hopeless struggle against frat boy sobriety.
* If a Texan brags to you about how much bigger his state is than yours, tell him your friend from Alaska was just saying the same thing about him, and laugh when he starts crying like a little girl.
* The state mammal of Texas is the armadillo. For those not familiar with it, an armadillo is a peculiar-looking animal with the head of a rat, the body armor of a turtle, and the spineless flexibility of Obama’s immigration policy.
* President Lyndon Johnson was born in Johnson City, Texas. He was the last president to be popularly known by his three initials, “LBJ”. Which should not be confused with President Clinton’s nickname among Hispanic voters, “el BJ”.
* Alvin, Texas, set the record for rainfall in the US when it received 43 inches in 24 hours in 1979. It also holds the record for the world’s largest wooden boat at 300 by 50 by 30 cubits.
* Texas’ nickname is “the big freakin’ hat state”.
* More wool comes from the state of Texas than any other state. The quality of the wool is far superior to that from New Jersey, which is 90% Italian back hair.
* Texas was actually an independent nation from 1836 until 1845, when it got divorced, lost its job and moved into America’s basement, where it remains to this day.
* Lazy bum.
* An oak tree near Fulton, Texas, is estimated to be over 1500 years old. Every year on June 1st, the locals celebrate the tree’s birthday by getting drunk and firing pistols into the air. The drunken shooting on the other 364 days of the year is just for fun.
* Caddo Lake is the only natural lake in Texas. All the rest have implants.
* On December 20, 1835, the first flag of Texas independence was raised. It featured a white background behind an image of Speedy Gonzales’s head on a pike and a capital “T” branded on his forehead.
* The Hertzberg Circus Museum in San Antonio, Texas, has the largest collection of circus memorabilia in the world. It includes such rare sideshow freak attractions as a three-headed calf and a modest, soft-spoken Texan wearing sneakers and a fedora.
* The state motto of Texas is “That chili’s not hot, you’re just a wuss”.
* Texas is home to both Dell and Compaq computers. The fact that they’ve outsourced all their tech support overseas gives new meaning to the phrase “Cowboys and Indians”.
* The famous soft drink Dr Pepper was invented in Waco, Texas, in 1885. It should not be confused with any best-selling Beatles albums or that crappy rip-off, Mr Pibb.
* The first suspension bridge in the US was the Waco Bridge, built across the Brazos river in 1870. Before then, all bridges were supported by concrete pilings reinforced with the broken bodies of Chinese railroad workers.
* The Texas capitol building in Austin opened on May 16, 1888, and is actually 7 feet higher the US Capitol building in Washington, DC. Personally, I think it’s nice that men from Texas at least have ONE size-related thing they can brag about.
* The first word spoken from the moon was “Houston”. The second and third words were “Astros” and “suck”.
* Texas possesses three of the top 10 most populous cities in the US – Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio. It also claims two of the top 10 most monkey-eared presidential candidates – George W. Bush and Ross Perot.
* The cattle population of Texas is estimated to be 16 million.
* 17 million if you count Cadillacs with steer horns mounted on the hood.
* The world’s first rodeo was held in Pecos, Texas, in 1883 when a dozen cowboys came up with a plan for a way to publicly tie up and wrestle cattle while dressed in leather chaps without running afoul of the state’s oppressive bestiality laws.
That wraps up the Texas edition of Fun Facts About the 50 States. Next week we’ll be finding it ironic that a state that’s filled with Mormons is, itself, a four-letter word as we visit Utah.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve gotta go help put down a beer keg uprising.
[The complete e-book version of "Fun Facts About the 50 States" is now available at Amazon.com. If you don't have a Kindle, you can download free Kindle apps for your web browser, smartphone, computer, or tablet from Amazon.com]