Whataburger is celebrating its anniversary this week – the Texas institution known for its Lone Star flare.
But the orange-and-white-striped table tents used to denote each customer’s order are becoming as iconic as the legendary burgers the restaurant grills every day, 24 hours a day.
The tents are so popular, diners from across the country often take them home – illegally, of course – as “souvenirs.”
However, thanks to a decree from the Houston Police Department, another resourceful, yet, unlikely, use for the iconic knick-knacks is coming to an end:
Police officials are ordering their officers no longer use the table tents as evidence markers at crime scenes.
The orders also apply to using other items with recognizable designs, as patrol captains sent out a memo informing officers not to use items with visible brand names as markers.
Changes to the force come after public reaction to officers using the table tents and other objects as crime scene markers while investigating a homicide on the city’s north side in March.
While official department procedure is to wait for technicians from the department’s Crime Scene Unit to place markers, often, officers on the scene using the table tents wanted to ensure the evidence wasn’t disturbed.
Making the most of what was around, they borrowed table tents from the nearby Whataburger.
HPD spokeswoman Jodi Silva explained her office received calls from people who “asked if Whataburger was sponsoring (HPD) now” and “whether Whataburger was endorsing us or whether we were endorsing Whataburger.”
While Silva described the use of the tents as “well-intentioned,” she also said the department “took action immediately to let the people on the scene know not to do that again.”
Silva also dismissed the idea officers kept the tents for future use, but did not mention if they were returned to the restaurant.
Officials at Whataburger did not comment on the secondary use of their table tents.