Texas’ favorite burger chain has a long and storied history. In fact, Texans are so fervent about Whataburger that it has a cult following like no other. Sure, people will drive miles out of their way to eat at the famous orange and white striped A-frame buildings, but they’ll do that in other states for lesser burger chains. Texans’ passion goes so much deeper.
Like native Houstonian Amir Safi, who won a slam poetry competition with his “Ode to Whataburger,” in which he quit literally praises Whataburger for its “honey butter chicken blessings.”
And we can’t forget that one Texan who custom made Whataburger-branded Nike sneakers. That’s a level of devotion not normally associated with other hamburger joints.
So if you think you love Whataburger, check out this list of Whataburger facts to see how much you know about your favorite Texan burger chain.
10. Whataburger was founded by a total badass.
The most interesting man in the world is real. He may or may not have preferred Dos Equis, but he certainly founded Whataburger. When he wasn’t busy drilling for oil or working as a diamond courier, Harmon Dobson could be found flying planes. After all, who else could have created such an epic hamburger legacy?
9. The first out of state location opened in 1959
A mere nine years after the debut of Whataburger in Texas, Dobson opened the first out of state location in Pensacola, Fla. There are now hundreds of locations all across the southern U.S. and the southwest.
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8. Whataburger invented the five-inch bun
Dobson originally wanted to make a burger so big you had to hold it with two hands. To achieve this, he had to commission a bakery in Corpus Christi to custom make five-inch hamburger buns, except that they couldn’t, because they didn’t have pans large enough. Undeterred, Dobson sought out a manufacturer to have the pans specially made, and the five-inch bun was born.
7. The orange and white stripes were inspired by air travel
The orange and white stripes were inspired by Dobson’s passion for flying. He liked the idea of being able to spot his restaurants from the sky, so he opened the first of what we now know as the classic Whataburger buildings in Odessa, Texas, in 1961.
6. Beware of What-A-Burger
Currently, there are no Whataburger locations in North or South Carolina, but there are What-A-Burgers, which is totally unaffiliated with the Texas favorite, and one can only assume, nowhere near as delicious.
5. Whataburger… IN SPACE!
Whataburger is literally out of this world. The crew of the Space Shuttle Columbia asked for Whataburger cookies to be included on board for their July 1999 mission. This was the STS 93 crew, not the ill-fated STS 107 mission that broke apart on reentry four years later.
4. There are 36,864 ways to customize your Whataburger
Yup. Someone at Whataburger took the time to figure out all the myriad of ways a burger could be customized, and that’s the number. So when you visit next time, try something new and see if you can get one of those “special” stickers on your burger.
3. Family owned for over 65 years
Harmon’s lovely wife Grace Dobson took over Whataburger following Dobson’s death from a plane crash, and his son, Tom Dobson, took the helm in 1993. The younger Dobson rescued the company spent the rest of the 90’s rescuing the chain from near failure by bringing it back to its roots of quality and focusing more on the original Whataburger menu item. And for that, we thank him.
2. The ketchup is like no other
Whataburger ketchup is almost as popular as the burger chain itself. There are devoted fan followings of both the original and the spicy varieties, and you can even purchase them at H-E-B grocery stores across the Lone Star State, along with Whataburger mustard, mayo, jalapeño ranch, and other Whataburger products. You still have to buy the actual burgers at the restaurant though, sorry.
1. It was voted the best burger in America
A poll from Fastcompany determined that Whataburger is not only the best burger in Texas, it’s also the best in America. No Texans were surprised by this fact. You’re welcome, America.