Bluebell Ice Cream


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It’s made down at what they call the “little creamery in Brenham.” But that’s the biggest understatement of the year. It’s a huge factory. And now, I understand, they have factories in other states too. But they retain that small town sense of being from Brenham…in their ads, their marketing, and in their company ethos.


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During the past two decades, Bluebell has moved from a treat known only to us here in Texas, to a delicacy craved the nation wide. In fact, Bluebell’s success is all the more astounding when you stop and really look at it. Because, while it has become the third most popular ice cream in nationwide sales (Behind Breyer’s and Dreyer’s), it’s sold in just sixteen states! (here’s the map)

The New York Times ran one of the best stories on Bluebell back in May. It’s by RW Apple, and you can read it at the Bluebell website here. It’s really quite fun to read how this writer from the big city swoons over his factory tour in rural Texas.

Apple writes that his favorite Bluebell flavor is Buttered Pecan:
“I’d never tasted anything like it, nor had Betsey — packed with roasted, lightly salted Texas pecan halves. (The pecan, as Ed Kruse was quick to remind me, is the Texas state tree.) Rich. Mellow. Salt and sugar playing Ping-Pong in my mouth. I could easily down a pint at a single sitting. Just give me a spoon (no dish required) and stand back, kid.”

Here are some of the other things he says:
“….Blue Bell is not all hat and no cattle, as they say of some things and some people in Texas. With clean, vibrant flavors and a rich, luxuriant consistency achieved despite a butterfat content a little lower than some competitors, it hooks you from the first spoonful. Entirely and blessedly absent are the cloying sweetness, chalky texture and oily, gummy aftertaste that afflict many mass-manufactured ice creams.
I wouldn’t (quite) claim to remember every bite of ice cream that I’ve eaten since my first tastes of peppermint stick at Mary Coyle’s and banana at Isaly’s in Akron, Ohio, around 1940. But I can recall no American commercial ice cream in a league with Blue Bell except the remarkable Graeter’s, which is made in Cincinnati and sold only there and in a few nearby cities.”

Bluebell didn’t invent “Cookies and Cream,” but they pretty much perfected it, striking a deal with Nabisco to use the popular Oreos brand for many years, becoming the first ones to market it on a large scale, and creating what is now their second most popular blend. (Homemade Vanilla is number one…)

Bluebell has seventeen year-round flavors, and about 35 others that get rotated through, depending upon what kind of things are in season, and what will fit in a grocers shelves. Here’s a complete list of their flavors.

Speaking of getting it, you can get it shipped to you, if you want. Bluebell ships the stuff all over the country, to those who are still deprived of being able to run down to the store and pick some up. Interested? Go here.

When we were at Dennise’s high school reunion back in July, we sat at the picnic with the husband of one of her high school friends. This guy had spent a lot of time in the Air Force. And, for a time, he was stationed at one side of the country, and would fly back to other side for meetings; often stopping for a connecting flight at DFW.

He told us how his in-laws would often meet him at the airport with a couple of pints of Bluebell, and during twenty minutes on the ground, he’d chat briefly with them, and scarf down Pistachio, or Banana Pudding.

If that sounds extreme and fanatical, then I’m going to assume you haven’t had Bluebell yet.

And if you have, then I’m going to assume it’s just one more thing you like about Texas.

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Eric Folkerth is a minister, musician, author and blogger. He has been Senior Pastor of Northaven United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas since 2001. During his tenure, church membership has grown almost 30 percent, and a completely new church facility (sanctuary and education building) has been constructed. Northaven is a leading progressive Christian congregation in the Southwest. Northaven is an eclectic collection of gay and straight families, artists, musicians, theater folks, academic theologians, lawyers and judges (go figure), socially conscious community activists, people who don't "check their brain at the door," and a wide array of others who either see it as their "last chance" inside the "institutional church," or their first trip back in decades. Eric is an avid blogger and published author.  Eric is also an award-winning singer-songwriter, who performs throughout Texas and the Southwest. He's an engaging live performer whose first CD was released in 2000. His songs have won honorable mention in both the Billboard and Great American song contests; and he's been a finalist in the 5th Street Festival and South Florida Folk Festival songwriter competitions. Eric is also a leader of Connections, a unique band comprised of United Methodist clergy and layfolk from throughout North Texas. Connections performs "cover shows" of artists like Dan Fogelberg, Chicago, Eagles, Doobie Brothers, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor and others. Their shows draw crowds of between 300 and 1,000 fans, and they have raised more than $240,000 dollars for worthy charities. Eric has led or co-led hundreds of persons on mission trips around the globe, to places such as Mexico, Haiti, Russia, and Nepal. He has worked with lay persons to build ten homes, and one Community Center, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Dallas. He's a popular preacher, and often tackles challenging issues of social justice in his writings and sermons. His wife, Judge Dennise Garcia, is a State District Judge for Dallas, County. As judge of the 303rd Family District Court, she consistently gets high ratings from area lawyers, and was named "best judge" by The Dallas Observer. First elected in 2004, she was the first Latina ever elected to a county-wide bench in Dallas County. She was re-elected for a third term in 2010. They have the world's best daughter, Maria, and an incredible dog, Daisy. (As always, if you like this post, then "like" this on Facebook by clicking the box below, so others can see too...)

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