There are so many wonderful facets about life in Texas, many of which are truly Texas originals. If you ask folks to list all the things that are great about living in the Lone Star State, most Texans could fill a sheet of paper with their "likes" in a few minutes time.
But if you ask them to single out the most outstanding aspect of Texas living, they would be hard pressed to decide on just one.
Chances are rural Texans would have different items listed than those who reside in the major urban areas, but similarities are sure to occur. A couple of items that would likely be high on a lot of Texan's list would be Blue Bell Ice Cream and mesquite-cooked beef brisket BBQ. Both of those original Texas taste treats are deeply rooted in agriculture and are favorites with rural and urban Texans alike.
Another Texas original is the 4-H Club program, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2008. 4-H began in Jack County, Texas in 1908 as a boys Corn Club under the leadership of a pioneer Texas County Extension Agent, Tom Marks. The success of that educational youth club for boys was followed by a girls tomato canning club first organized in Milam County in 1912 and a vegetable gardening and poultry club initiated for black youth in Waller County in 1914.
These early efforts evolved into the 4-H Club organization that has as its cornerstone, "learning-by-doing" educational projects and youth development training that focus on the four "Hs."
Those four "Hs" represent the first letter in Head, Heart, Hands and Health. The Head represents learning leadership and life skills as well as positive behavior that will help youth become contributing members of society. Heart is symbolic of developing a caring and companionate attitude towards ones community, country and world.
Hands symbolize the development of a strong work ethic essential to successfully achieving goals. The final "H" is for Heath, which relates to the emphasis on developing a healthy, active, lifestyle and the importance of good balanced nutrition and exercise.
In recognition of the 100th anniversary of the birthday of 4-H in Texas, a century old Texas business icon, Blue Bell Creameries of Brenham, recently announced the introduction of "Centennial Cupcake Ice Cream" in honor of the 4-H program. Blue Bell's CEO and president, Mr. Paul Kruse, announced the addition of the new flavor.
He said: "Centennial Cupcake is the perfect ice cream to help commemorate 4-H's momentous occasion. It has all the ingredients for a celebration: cake and ice cream as well as four-leaf clover sprinkles for that special touch to honor of the 4-H emblem."
Blue Bell, which celebrated its centennial last year, has created a unique carton for this new flavor treat. The carton features club members in their 4-H T-shirts displaying a colorful 4-H centennial banner.
This new flavor is currently available at retail grocery stores in half-gallon containers. A portion of the sales from "Centennial Cupcake" ice cream will be donated to the Texas 4-H Foundation to help support 4-H educational programs statewide.
Blue Bell Creameries currently distributes its fine products in 17 states. So make plans pick up a carton or two of this special flavor during the spring and summer seasons.
Just how much do Texans like ice cream? Apparently, a whole lot. Texas ice cream plants produced 117,681,000 gallons of "ice cream mix" in 2006. Texas ranks third in the production of ice cream products behind California and Indiana. Those figures exclude sherbet production where Texas drops to seventh place. Compare that to milk production where Texas ranks No. 8 with production of 7,145 million pounds of milk from 1,300 dairy farms across the state in 2006.
Now that the Texas weather is warming-up, why not celebrate with a bowl of ice cream that is a uniquely Texas creation.
Harvey Buehring is the former Agricultural Extension Agent for Nueces County. Readers may contact him at (361) 767-5223.