1. Hank the Cowdog Books
Panhandle native John R. Erickson wrote the first Hank the Cowdog book in 1983. Over 70 books and one Matthew McConaughey-voiced podcast later, the beloved children’s book series has endeared generations of readers to the bumbling but stalwart canine narrator Hank, self-proclaimed Head of Ranch Security on his owner’s Texas property. A classic mishmash of Western tropes, detective stories, and Abbott and Costello-like dialogue, Hank the Cowdog is a great gift for young readers.
2. A Hatco Cowboy Hat
Cowboy hats are an iconic staple of Texan apparel. One of the largest manufacturers, Hatco, produces hats for two well known brands: Stetson and Resistol. Located in Garland, the Hatco factory reportedly churns out 3,000 hats per day.
3. Buc-ee’s Snacks and Gear
Started in 1982, Buc-ee’s has quickly become the pride of Texas gas stations with its large number of pumps and plethora of clean bathroom stalls. A total of 35 stations are located in the state. For those traveling at Christmas, a quick stop at Buc-ee’s is an easy way to find some Texas snacks and gear, whether it’s a pack of made-in-Texas beef jerky, a box of fudge made at the store, or something unique from one of the many local vendors that Buc-ee’s hosts.
4. A Mossberg Shotgun
Though Mossberg is headquartered in Connecticut, most of the company’s firearms production takes place in Eagle Pass, Texas. The company is well known for its Mossberg 500, a reliable pump-action shotgun, but produces a wide array of other shotguns and rifles.
5. Justin Boots
These aren’t Luccheses. Durable, well-priced, and made for wear and tear, Justin boots have achieved the rank of a common standard, somewhere in the same category as the Ford F-150 or the Fender Strat. Justin has made boots in Texas since founder Herman Joseph Justin cobbled his first pair in Spanish Fort in 1879.
6. Texas-Born Vinyl
Since at least the days of Scott Joplin — the Texarkana ragtime legend whose skill culminated fatefully with the first widespread success of piano recording — Texas has produced some of the leading artists of America’s favorite genres. For classic country fans, consider a copy of Kris Kristofferson’s debut album that he composed while working as a helicopter pilot in the Gulf. For blues listeners, Leona native Albert Collins’ Frostbite or North Texan Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Soul to Soul, recorded in Dallas, are musts. Houston rap artists like the Geto Boys produced hit after hit in the days of cassette tapes that have since been remastered to vinyl. And if you stumble across any of Big Mama Thornton’s recordings for Peacock, Lightnin’ Hopkins’ Herald sessions, or a clear vinyl Texas-emblazoned copy of UGK’s Ridin Dirty collecting dust in a used record store somewhere, don’t think — just buy it.
7. James Avery Jewelry
Now with stores in 11 states, the James Avery business was born in a garage in Kerrville, where its first retail store was established. The family-run artisan jewelry company, specializing in Christian themes, has a broad catalog of products in silver, gold, and gemstones.
Originally founded in 1878, Lammes Candies touts its “Texas Chewie Pecan Praline,” made with pecans, corn syrup, sugar, milk, butter, and salt. Lammes says the special treat was originally created in 1892 using pecans from trees that grew along the Colorado River in Austin. “Lammes continues to follow this tradition today, using only Texas grown pecans,” they say. Besides its praline, the company has an assortment of other Texas-themed chocolates for sale.
9. A Bowie Knife
Revered as a defender of the legendary Alamo siege, Jim Bowie’s family name is synonymous with the big knife his brother Rezin designed for Jim after he was nearly shot. Jim would later immortalize the weapon in the Sandbar Fight.
Located in Porter, the Texan Knives company stocks thousands of daggers, folders, and classic Bowies, including a healthy portion of their own custom creations. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more affordable Damascus steel knife made by the seller himself.
10. The Texan Merch
A list from The Texan wouldn’t be complete without The Texan’s own gear. Items for sale include a Texas Forever baseball cap, a “Fake News Stops Here” coffee mug, and a t-shirt with a quote from Sam Houston: “Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may.”
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Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.