Pearsall, TX: Dairy Queen, Kites, Hemingway

My friend Eric told me a story today about a trip he and his family took in 1994. Driving though Texas along I-35, the carload of 5 stopped for a pit stop here:

pearsall-tx.jpg

This small map shows the small town of Pearsall, TX, population 7,157. Located just off of I-35 (you can see it on the left in the picture above), Pearsall takes up about 4.2 square miles and is home to the World’s Largest Peanut:

pearsallgiantpeanut_cropped.jpg

Sadly, Eric’s family missed out on the peanut–I will not make the same mistake.

This story has a happy ending though! As his parents rolled through town with three boys under 10 in the backseat, they stumbled upon a Dairy Queen- why not stop for some dipped cones, right? Little did they know! After ordering a kids meal, Eric and his brothers were each given a full size kite as a prize! And “not a crappy kite, but like kickass store-bought kites.” I really can’t imagine a better afternoon for a bunch of kids stuck in a car for what was probably a sticky few Texan hours.

So what’s up with that though, right? Dairy Queen giving out kites??? Awesome! Do they still do that? Was that just a Texas thing? Just a Pearsall thing? I looked into this a bit, and it turns out Dairy Queen has quite a legacy in Texas. In FACT, of the 5,600 Dairy Queen locations spread out over 22 countries, there are 900 franchises open in Texas. Furthermore, while DQ’s slogan globally is “Something Different,” in Texas it’s “What I Like About Texas.”

I’m not the first person to have noticed this, and in 1987, The New York Times addressed the trend. So I have to wonder, is DQ still the same town center it was 20 years ago? Giving kickass kites to kids, spreading news of deaths and births, providing a low key location for oil deals and hunting trip planning? With proclamations like, “The Dairy Queen is what Ernest Hemingway called a clean, well-lighted place,” and “All the wild horses are ridden in the Dairy Queen,” (what does that mean??), I have to assume it’s enjoyed at least some longevity?

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