WHO: H-E-B and a little boy named Thomas, who clearly loves the place.
WHAT: A birthday photo shoot in which young Thomas got his own nametag, scanned items, and met the H-E-Buddy.
WHY IT’S SO GREAT: Even if the company never did another charming thing, H-E-B would hold a permanent place of affection among most Texans for its role in providing emergency relief during Hurricane Harvey. But the company continues to worm its way into our hearts, and the surprise they cooked up for Thomas is just further proof of how they do it.
Photographer Megan Bowling, who worked with Thomas’s mother, Jessica Guerrero, to make the surprise happen, told the San Antonio Express-News that the store at Kitty Hawk and 1604 in San Antonio “went above and beyond” in making sure that the photoshoot was a great experience. As we can see in the pictures, they provided the birthday boy with a nametag of his own, a little shopping cart so he could stock up on the essentials (a Hungry Hungry Hippos game and a Spider-Man mask), brought out the H-E-Buddy for hugs and high-fives, and loaded the kid up with blue-frosted donuts. They also made sure that the friends helping celebrate the fact that Thomas is turning five could share in some of the supermarket-themed fun—according to the paper, the store sent goodie bags, balloons, desserts, and the H-E-Buddy itself over to his party.
The role that H-E-B plays in the cultural life of Texans who live in the San Antonio-based company’s territory is a phenomenon—one that tends to baffle non-Texans who come here from places where going to the supermarket is an errand, not a pilgrimage. But as we can see in the photos of little Thomas having the time of his life walking those aisles, that affection runs deep—and it starts early.