Texas Living

10 Texas Inventions We Couldn’t Live Without

By Peter Simek 8.1.19

From technology that has revolutionized everyday life to food we couldn’t live without, Texas has given the world so much. Where would we be without the ability to cover up words we wrote in pen? Or computers?

Which are the most important? We’ll let you decide which was the most important of all Texas inventions. For now, here are our top 10.

Liquid Paper

Like most of the world’s best inventions, the idea for liquid paper was born out of simple necessity. In the mid-1950s, Bette Nesmith Graham (who also happened to be the mother of The Monkees’ Michael Nesmith) was working as a secretary at Texas Bank and Trust in Dallas. The company had just installed new electric typewriters with super-responsive keys. For Graham, that technological advance only meant more mistakes in her typing. Graham was in a fix — she needed a quick way to fix her errors. Her solution? She placed a small amount of white tempera paint in a bottle and brought it to work with her. With some further refining of the solution, she began marketing her “Mistake Out” after it proved so popular with her colleagues around the office. And liquid paper was born.

Photo by Elizabeth Lavin


Although recipes for the iconic stew date to before the founding of Texas, it was in the Lone Star State where the classic bowl of chili really came together when San Antonio chili queens whipped up batches of “Texas Red” to feed hungry workers.


Chili had become so synonymous with feel-good Texas food that when restaurateur Larry Lavine opened up a new spot on Greenville Avenue in Dallas in 1975, he used the popular dish’s name for his restaurant: Chili’s. That one Greenville Avenue restaurant grew into a chain with more than 15,000 locations in more than 40 countries.

Texas inventions
Courtesy of Dallas Morning News

The Microchip

Jack Kilby, a young engineer at Texas Instruments, didn’t earn enough vacation to take the summer off. How else could a young engineer get through a long, hot Dallas summer than bury himself in the lab? Kilby spent that summer of 1958 developing an integrated circuit — the first microchip — which became the foundation stone of the computer revolution. Kilby didn’t stop there. Throughout his career, he also helped invent the handheld calculator and the thermal printer.

Photo by Elizabeth Lavin


Fried corn chips are a staple of Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine. But what turned the popular San Antonio street food known as fritas into a school-lunchbox staple was a little Henry Ford-inspired ingenuity. In 1932, C.E. Doolin purchased a recipe and equipment from Gustavo Olguin, who had been making the fried snacks by hand. Doolin created an assembly-line facility to ramp up production. In 1961, Doolin joined forces with potato chip pioneer Lay’s, and the two companies helped the chips craze spread far and wide.

The Super Bowl

Sure, the NFL had been staging a championship game for years before any Texans got involved. But leave it to a Texan to take the idea of a championship and, well, supersize it. That’s what happened when American Football League founder Lamar Hunt came up with the name “Super Bowl” at a pro football owners’ meeting in the 1960s. The rest is sports history.


Otis Frank Boykin was valedictorian at the competitive Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, only to drop out when he went off to college. The genius was later “discovered” by scientist Dr. Hal F. Fruth. Working with Fruth, Boykin developed more than 25 inventions. Perhaps his most famous — and impactful — creation was a control unit for the artificial cardiac pacemaker, which helped the pacemaker achieve its goal of maintaining a regular heartbeat in patients.

Courtesy of Fletcher’s Original State Fair Corny Dogs

Corn Dog

Like with most iconic American food items, opinions are divided over who exactly invented the corn dog. Proprietors from Portland, Oregon, to Buffalo, New York, lay claim to originating the inventive idea of dipping a hot dog on a stick into cornbread batter and frying it. But the earliest recipe in our eyes is the one pioneered by Neil and Carl Fletcher at the State Fair of Texas in 1942. The vaudeville performers tested their recipe for months before unveiling the creation at the fair. The food redefined the State Fair of Texas, not to mention carnivals and fairs throughout the nation.

The Hughes Drill Bit

As it turned out, finding the oil was the easier part. But in the early 20th century, after the Spindletop discovery kickstarted the Texas oil boom, wildcatters needed a way to tap the vast reserves of black, liquid gold that lay beneath the Texas landscape. The solution came from Howard Hughes Jr., whose Hughes Tool Company in Houston improved upon a drill bit invented by his father. The tricone bit drilled straighter and faster. This Texas invention became known as the “invention that found most of the oil in Texas.”

Photo by Natalie Goff

Dr Pepper

There are few things so beloved by Texans as a cold bottle of Dr Pepper on a hot summer day. The recipe was created in the 1880s by a Waco pharmacist named Charles Alderton. When Alderton introduced the curiously named soft drink at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in 1904, the unique recipe (which is still closely guarded) took the country by storm.

To enjoy more original Texas inventions, try these retro, 7-Eleven-inspired slushie recipes.

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