Rex Linn Gave Reba McEntire An Adorable Nickname On Their First Date

Reba McEntire and Rex Linn go way back — to 1991, when they first met on the set of the TV movie "The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw." They became casual friends and kept in touch over the years. Linn, known for his roles on "CSI: Miami" and a slew of movies, started playing Principal Petersen in "Young Sheldon" in 2017. When McEntire was booked for the same show in 2020, they became reacquainted, and romance soon blossomed. 

After courting throughout the early part of the COVID-19 pandemic, by staying in touch over the phone as much as possible, McEntire revealed on her podcast, "Living and Learning with Reba McEntire," in October 2020 that she and Linn had been going steady for six months. "He's a very sweetheart of a guy," she gushed. They appeared together on the red carpet for the 2020 CMA Awards and began sharing photos of their adventures on Instagram. 

The only thing cuter than seeing snapshots of McEntire and Linn on the red carpet and cuddling farm animals together is their nicknames for each other. Based on the classic cafeteria fare and popular bar food, the tater tot has an entirely new definition in the celebrity couple's world and for these two, it's an important part of their relationship too.

Meet the Tots

Before Reba McEntire and Rex Linn began their whirlwind relationship, the two went out to dinner with a group of friends, brought together thanks to "Young Sheldon." The couple would later refer to it as their first date, even though they didn't know it was a first date. When the server rattled off a list of appetizers and tater tots were mentioned, the country singer raised her hand in a vote for the classic, hot and crunchy potato snack. 

McEntire shared on "The Jennifer Hudson Show" that her love of tater tots kicked off a whole thing. "Rex said, 'That's your nickname from here on out,'" she recalled of her beau's affectionate name for her, Tater Tot. The singer also confirmed that she has a special nickname for Linn that complements it: Sugar Tot. "We're The Tots," she declared. "Sugar and Tater." Indeed, the couple playfully teased their pet names for each other on Instagram. 

"The Tots, Sugar and Tater, have taken up farming. Meet Mr. Pecker," the four-time CMA Vocalist of the Year winner posted, along with a photo of the celebrity couple and their rooster. Linn liberally uses the hashtags #TheTots and #TaterTot whenever he posts about McEntire, too. "Queen #TaterTot takes her throne tonight on the season 24 premiere of #TheVoice!" he captioned a photo of his lady love while promoting her appearance on the show. 

Their love affair with tater tots

When Reba McEntire and Rex Linn celebrated Valentine's Day in 2023, it was a Sonic moment, complete with the restaurant chain's tater tots. Yes, the couple's love for each other, and their favorite crunchy side dish, was still going strong three years later. They even added acting together to their list of joint activities. In addition to Linn and McEntire working together in the Lifetime movie "The Hammer," the lovable duo portrayed a husband and wife on "Deadly Trails," the third season of the ABC series "Big Sky."

"To play husband and wife, it's natural for us," McEntire informed People simply. "Rex and I rehearse all the time to make sure that when we step on that set, we're not wasting anybody's time." Evidently, it's an easy task for them, as the three-time Grammy winner has consistently noted that the couple loves spending time together: "He's the love of my life. We're pretty much inseparable."

In October 2023, McEntire also released her book, "Not That Fancy: Simple Lessons on Living, Loving, Eating, and Dusting Off Your Boots." A little bit biographical, and a little bit lifestyle, the book also includes plenty of recipes — including one for tater tots, of course. Citing her Valentine's Day dinner, the singer's instructions are to get in your car, drive to Sonic, order the tots, and be happy.