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Why Texans Love H-E-B So Much

Gabriel C. Pérez/KUT

From Texas Standard:

Everything is bigger and better in Texas – at least that’s how the saying goes. From food to clothing, and now grocery stores, Texas consumers are proud of Texas brands, and H-E-B is one of them. The data also proves that popularity. H-E-B ranked No. 1 in a recent survey of consumer satisfaction with U.S. grocery stores by consumer data company dunnhumby. H-E-B even beat last year's No. 1, Trader Joe’s.

Priya Krishna, a food writer for Bon Appétit and The New York Times, says the reason for that is H-E-B’s keen understanding of what it means to be “Texan.”

“H-E-B understands how loyal Texans are to Texas,” Krishna, a Texas native herself, says. “They understand that Texans feel a real sense of pride, and their identity is linked to being from Texas. It’s why their best-selling items are Texas-shaped tortilla chips and that they sell 20 different kinds of queso.”

Even so, there is more to H-E-B than its Texas-shaped products. A main reason for its success is its dedication to Texas culture, which is implemented in nearly everything they make and sell. From handmade tortillas to breakfast tacos in its gas stations, H-E-B makes it a point to serve all things Texan, to Texans, in a way that feels authentic, Krishna says. It’s a unique strategy that other grocers in Texas haven’t mastered in the same way.

Though H-E-B has embedded foods into its mainstream offerings that other stores might label as “ethnic,” Krishna says the flip side is that sometimes has the effect of diluting the importance of cultural diversity in Texas life.

“Their brand really is built upon the strength of Texas’ immigrant communities, and namely its Hispanic communities,” Krishna says. “It sometimes concerns me the way that H-E-B is able to give you the tacos without the politics.”

Even so, Krishna, who now lives in New York, says her experience shopping at H-E-Bs made a lasting impression on her.

“At H-E-B, if you can’t find something, someone will literally walk you to where that item is,” Krishna says. “It really is emblematic of Texas hospitality.”

Written by Samantha Carrizal.

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