Despite its recent setbacks, Blue Bell Ice Cream is an integral part of Texan culture. Texans love the ice cream so much that the whole state rallied around Brenham in the days after the 2015 recall due to listeria bacteria. It was beginning to look like the century-old company would crumble under the weight of the scandal.
The light at the end of the ice cream tunnel came when Texan billionaire Sid Bass financed the factory's return to production. So now that it's back on shelves, and slowly but surely ramping up production, here are a few tidbits you may not know about Blue Bell Ice Cream.
10. The original factory had a different name.
The Brenham Creamery Company, as it was first called, opened in 1907 in an abandoned cotton gin. The name wasn't changed to Blue Bell Creameries until 1930.
9. The first product wasn't ice cream.
The Brenham Creamery Company was initially founded to make butter from the excess cream brought in by local farmers. They began producing ice cream in 1911, and by 1958 they had ceased production on all butter products to focus solely on ice cream.
8. The initial production quota was two gallons a day.
In the first part of the 20th century, most ice cream consumed was made at home, so the ice cream from the Brenham Creamery had to be exceptional. It wasn't easy transporting ice cream door to door before the advent of refrigerated trucks, so the production was low to avoid wasted or spoiled product. By comparison, pre-recall production rates were around 350,000 half gallon tubs a day.
7. The cookies in the Cookies n Cream flavor are baked on site.
Originally Blue Bell used Oreo brand cookies, but the cookies had to be purchased prepackaged and opened by hand. As this process was expensive and time-consuming, Blue Bell eventually decided to begin baking and using their own sandwich cookies in the mixture.
6. Blue Bell will ship ice cream to your loved ones.
Do not despair, Texan expats! You can actually have Blue Bell ice cream shipped to your doorstep with the help of about three pounds of dry ice and a lot of crumpled newspaper. In fact, it's said that former President George H.W. Bush used to have Blue Bell ice cream shipped to his home in Maine.
5. The name "Blue Bell" comes from a native Texas wildflower.
The blue bell was the favorite wildflower of Blue Bell's general manager and eventual president, E.F. Kruse. The flower is really more a purple than a blue color, and it grows wild around Brenham, whose fields come alive with thousands of wildflowers every spring.
4. Blue Bell has been family owned since 1919.
When E.F. Kruse was first recruited to help revitalize the failing Brenham Creamery Company, he had been working as a school teacher, but his business savvy won him a place in the upper ranks of the Blue Bell company, and his descendants still run it to this day.
3. During the recall, a group of kids wrote a rap about Blue Bell.
Deprivation and sadness have often been muses for some great art, such as with Van Gogh and, apparently, the creative kiddos of the Spilled Milk Social Club, who in August of 2015 wrote a rap about the Blue Bell ice cream that was missing from store shelves. It's pretty much the cutest darn thing you'll hear today.
2. There are currently 12 flavors available.
Before the recall in 2015, there were over 50 flavors of delectable Blue Bell ice cream, but the plants are much more careful about production now, and have only re-released 12 flavors, the most recent of which (at the time of this writing) is Rocky Road.
1. Since the recall, they test every batch before it leaves the plant.
In case you're concerned about the safety and quality of Blue Bell, it might ease your mind to know that every batch is now tested before being sent out to the stores. The Blue Bell website states on the subject: "All of the enhancements made in our facilities to procedures and equipment, and a "test and hold" procedure where ice cream is not distributed until the production run is tested, are designed to ensure that the ice cream we distribute is safe for consumers to enjoy.".