All Hail the Texan Beaver

Delaney Bolstein, Co-Editor/Director of Media

A cornerstone of American culture is road trips. Stretching interstates that lead to winding mountain roads offer the scenery. Arguments about the last McDonald’s fry and bathroom pleas offer the dialogue from billboards. It was in this purely American lifestyle, filled with 40-ounce Pepsi cups and traveling truckers, that Buc-ee’s founder, Arch “Beaver” Aplin III, found a market, and, yes, the glorified gas station was named after him. When Americans used to resort to dimly lit gas station bathrooms, Buc-ee’s provided a refuge, capitalizing off of the two types of business. In 1982, Alpin opened the first Buc-ee’s in Clute, Texas, and it was not until 2016 that they decided to expand beyond the Lone Star State, thus beginning the Texan beaver fever. The true star of Buc-ee’s is their bathroom. They are massive. Over 20 stalls and a trough-like sink in the center are encompassed by tiles stretching from floor to ceiling. An employee is also stationed in the restrooms to clean up any messes, a far cry from grimy gas station stalls. The bathrooms are so nice. In fact, in 2012, Buc-ee’s bathroom was named, “The nation’s highest-rated gas station bathrooms,” by GasBuddy. To further solidify their place in the restroom hall of fame, Buc-ee’s is starting to roll out green and red lights that indicate whether a stall is empty in Texas.

However, the true reason why Buc-ee’s became so popular is the food. Serving up true Texan cuisine, they specialize in anything made of meat. An over 12-foot jerky wall welcomes customers to the food area, even though guests can smell the barbecue from the minute they walk into the station. A bakery section selling cakes and pastries provides a unique road trip snack, and a fudge counter, my favorite area, highlights Buc-ee’s truly American existence. Yet, the, “Pièce de résistance,” is the brisket that a worker cuts in front of an individual and puts into sandwiches and breakfast tacos (another bizarre food). Buc-ee’s is the place that vegetarians have nightmares about and the place where carnivores indulge.

Perhaps the most amusing thing about Buc-ee’s is the amount of merch. Shirts, bathing suits, koozies, bedazzled wine glasses, all plastered with the Texan beaver make up Buc-ee’s merchandise. Everything you will ever need can be found in that glorified gas station. A family road trip might turn into a home remodel, and a beach trip might turn into back-to-school shopping, that is if a person is interested in having a smiling beaver on everything. It is in this respect that Buc-ee’s has expanded beyond a brand. Americans are swapping their Mickey Mouse clothing for Buc-ee’s. The mouse that ruled families now has a wood-eating counterpart. Through over-the-top branding, seen best in the golden statue standing in front of every location, Buc-ee’s became a symbol of the American South. Buc-ee’s is big; 54,000 feet big. It smells of barbecue, and, most importantly, it is weirdly comforting. Something about being surrounded by hundreds of beaver eyes and employees that call you, “Sugar,” makes Buc-ee’s seem like a home away from home.

(Above) My favorite item to get at Buc-ee’s is its birthday cake fudge. After being somewhat of a fudge connoisseur at my summer job, I can attest to that Buc-ee’s has the best. The birthday cake flavor is sickly sweet
and guaranteed to give you a stomach ache, but one you will not regret. Other confectionaries Buc-ee’s sells include cookie dough bites, cinnamon nuts, and just about every type of pudding. All Photos by Delaney Bolstein. (All Photos by Delaney Bolstein.)
(Above) Stationed outside of every Buc-ee’s location is a golden statue of the beaver himself. It is because
of this over-the-top branding that the gas station has
gained in popularity, facilitated by the impact of social
(Above) With the true star of Buc-ee’s being the restrooms, the company carries it in stride. Some of its billboards on the interstate read, “Our aim is to have clean restrooms. Your aim will help,” and “Stopping the pee dance since 1982.” In its attempt to capitalize off road trip bathroom breaks, Buc-ee’s succeeded.
When you walk into Buc-ee’s, the brisket hits you first. The smell, at times nauseating, lingers with you even after leaving. As for the taste, the overall consensus of my family was that it left something to be desired. The meat was dry, overly seasoned, and not worth the hype. Buc-ee’s also sells, “Beaver chips” which are kettle cooked potato chips. They have a similar thick texture to Chipotle’s tortilla chips except smokier, and made up for the brisket.