HOUSTON — They're big. They're bright. They're extra and they are oh so Texas! The homecoming mum is a Lone Star State tradition that dates back decades. And since everything is bigger in Texas, the elaborate mums have blossomed into a multi-million dollar business.
Depending on who you ask, the tradition either started in Texas or Missouri around 1930 when guys started giving their sweeties a simple chrysanthemum for homecoming.
Editor's note: The video above originally aired in 2019.
As the story goes, Texas moms got involved in the 1960s when they began teaming up with their daughters to create downright fancy mums -- the bigger the better. As they tried to outdo each other for bragging rights, the art of mum-making practically became a competitive sport.
Your 2022 homecoming mums!
“Texans love large. They love football large. They love their kids large. They love traditions large,” Amy J. Schultz told WFAA in Dallas. She was the brains behind an exhibit at the Arlington Museum of Art called “MUMENTOUS: The Upsizing of a Texas Tradition."
Some clever moms realized they could take their mums to the next level by using artificial flowers and that turned out to be a game changer. They added ribbons, shiny trinkets, lots of bling and even stuffed animals. And for goodness sake, don't forget the bells.
“Every good Texan knows that the proper homecoming mum has bells in it,” Schultz said.
As the mums grew in size, so did the price tag. It's not uncommon to spend hundreds of dollars on a single mum. That's why small businesses run by "mum-trepenuers" have sprouted up all over Texas.
A North Texas teen and her mom made headlines a few years ago after shelling out nearly $600 for a five-foot, purple and white life-sized "mum-trosity."
"You know the saying, 'Go big or go home,'" Alvarado High School senior Brittany Eicker said. "You look at it and think, 'Oh, your back is going to hurt.' But my back or neck didn't hurt, and I wore it from 8 a.m. until 11 that night."
It took Lisa Campell, who runs Mums by Lisa in Haltom City, 15 hours to create it.
"She had star-shaped lights," Campbell said. "It's a giant Texas. I've done one other like it, but that one was all pink."
"It's a lot of money, but I work two jobs," Eicker said. "I worked for it. I paid for it. I got to see what it was like to spend my own money."
What's believed to be the biggest mum of all was inspired by another tried and true Texas tradition: Whataburger.
The Whatamum was 18 feet tall and 6 feet wide and was the star of the show at that Arlington exhibit in 2019. It was made of 1,250 flower heads, 50 drink cups, 100 fry containers, 300 feet of ribbon, 80 bracelets and key chains, 165 feet of feathered fringe and took 120 hours to build.