Founded in 1907 in the small town of Brenham, Texas, Blue Bell has become one of the biggest and most beloved ice cream brands in the country. If you grew up in Texas odds are you are extremely familiar with the brand. To this day, a scoop of ice cream always reminds me of the classic Blue Bell flavors we would eat growing up. And you're just cheating yourself if you haven't dabbled in their holiday flavors. Christmas Cookies is seriously incredible. In my personal opinion, it's the best ice cream in the world and I love that it comes from the Lone Star State.
Originally founded under the name Brenham Creamery Company, a group of area farmers started the creamery to make butter with the extra cream, which they sold around town. In 1911, they realized that ice cream was another opportunity with the excess cream, so they started dabbling in small amounts in addition to their usual butter. Only making two gallons per day, they would hand deliver the ice cream around town via horse and wagon.
By 1919, despite expanding to ice cream, the company was in financial trouble and in risk of closing their doors forever. The board decided to hire a 23-year-old former school teacher to redirect the company and make them profitable. E.F. Kruse suggested expanding their ice cream production which made the company successful again within months. Pretty impressive that he saved the entire company, I was barely paying my rent when I was 23, and it was definitely for the best no one put a company's entire future in my hands.
Nearly 20 years under Kruse's leadership he decided on a significant change for the company. He wanted to update the name from Brenham Creamery Company to Blue Bell Creameries, in honor of the native Texas bluebell wildflower. Kruse felt it made sense because ice cream and bluebells both thrive in the summer months. What's better on a hot summer day than a refreshing scoop of ice cream? That's right, nothing. Under his leadership, the company became more and more profitable and was able to expand their distribution area over time.
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Though Kruse passed away in 1951, his sons took over to continue his legacy and help expand the brand, focusing solely on ice cream by the 1960s. First moving to the nearby metro of Houston, Blue Bell eventually had a footprint across the entire state in large markets like Austin and San Antonio. By the 1980s they were producing over 10 million gallons per year. Soon after you could find Blue Bell in new markets across the United States like Oklahoma, and Louisiana.
Today the Blue Bell headquarters are still located at The Little Creamery in Brenham where they help produce over 60 ice cream flavors. You can even visit them. Stop by to grab a scoop at their ice cream parlor and then watch how they make their delicious ice cream from the observation deck. You can also stop by their other visiting center in Sylacauga, Alabama. They also have an ice cream parlor, country store and an observation area. Blue Bell has become not only a Texas staple but a beloved southern brand in general that will undoubtedly continue making its delicious products for years to come.