Everybody knows everything is bigger in Texas, but part of what makes Texas feel so large is the wealth of small towns sprinkled across the state. Every Texas town is blessed with its own rich history and distinctive character, and when H-E-B launched My Hometown Twisters in August 2020, they set out to celebrate what makes each unique—paired with a Texas-sized flavor that reminds you of home.
H-E-B’s brand products are designed specifically with Texan customers in mind, and My Hometown Twisters are no exception. Cristina Peña Walls, a Business Development Manager at H-E-B, was instrumental in bringing these tasty cookies to grocery store shelves. Peña Walls and the H-E-B Partners on her development team wanted to create a cookie that reflected the affection Texans have for their hometowns. Like a good Texas road trip, the road of developing My Hometown Twisters was long, but it featured many spots worth stopping for along the way.
Born in Cotulla, Texas, Peña Walls lived all over the world before returning to her home state. She always knew she’d return to Texas one day, and after years of living abroad and traveling to more than fifty countries, she finally put down roots in San Antonio.
Back in her home state, and as the Cookie and Cracker buyer for H-E-B, Peña Walls had the opportunity to develop a new cookie, one that would be produced in Texas. “I wanted to help influence the way Texans interact and engage with their treats,” Peña Walls said. The cookie would have an autumnal theme, and for a world traveler like Peña Walls the fall season meant packing up and coming home for the holidays—think airplane rides and road trips. A cinnamon spiced cookie with a sweet cream cheese filling evoked the flavors of such a fall homecoming, but Peña Walls also wanted to implement this feeling of home with the cookie design.
Peña Walls used to get her Texas fix on the road before she settled in San Antonio. She cycled around the Lone Star State with friends and family armed with a book that detailed unique stories of small Texas towns that many travelers (and even some native Texans, like herself) might not have known. “It told a story of Texas and the little-known things a lot of people don’t know that make big, big Texas really, really small,” she says. She used the book to choose her various pit stops and began to fall in love with the sights, attractions, and quirky stories of each town she visited throughout the state.
Peña Walls was reminded of her cycling trips and the book that celebrated the small towns across Texas while working on My Hometown Twisters. The team decided that each cookie would be stamped with an emblem evoking something special that represented different towns across the state.
Then came the hard part—how would the Partners decide which Texas towns to feature? And how would they decide what single image was representative of an entire town? The development team asked for input from H-E-B Partners across the state, but because these cookies are made by H-E-B with love for its Texan customers, it was important to the team that the people of Texas had a part in the development of the cookies.
“We asked Partners and customers to name their hometowns and what made them special,” Peña Walls says. “Tell us something about your town that is worth learning about and something that we wouldn’t know that you’re proud of.”
The response was overwhelming. Peña Walls’s team ultimately settled on 32 Texas towns to feature on the cookies, and each package contains a different assortment. No single package has all 32 towns though, and many customers are on a quest to collect them all. The award-winning packaging design by Maria Alvarado Humphries includes four varieties, each illustrated with a map of Texas dotted with landmarks and emblems of the featured towns.
Some of the images on the cookies will be well known to Texans. Austin’s cookie features a guitar, Houston has a space rocket, and Lockhart sports a BBQ smoker. Others bring to light lesser known but incredibly unique stories and traditions. The Abilene cookie shows a storybook, celebrating Abilene’s status as the Storybook Capital of America. Eagle-eyed H-E-B fans will recognize the grocery cart emblem on the Kerrville cookie, commemorating the location of the first H-E-B store. One of Peña Walls’s favorite designs is the hippo on the Hutto cookie—if you didn’t know, the hippo is the town’s adopted mascot. Peña Walls is always looking for new towns to highlight, so keep an eye out. Your town might be next!
The goal in developing My Hometown Twisters was always to create a Texas product for Texans that celebrated the places they call home. “This really is for the love of Texas,” Peña Walls says. “This is our love note.”