Proud Member

Blue Bell Returns: But Have We Moved On?

Blue Bell is selling ice cream again, according to today’s news reports. I wrote all about the famous Blue Bell Ice Cream Factory in Brenham for the dessert chapter of my cookbook Texas Eats. Little did I suspect that Blue Bell would be pulled off the market after a listerosis outbreak. I wonder how many Texans regard the return of Blue Bell with the sort of mixed feelings you might have for a spouse that has just been released from jail.

“We’re glad you are back, but sorry, we have moved on.”

Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla tastes great on saltines.

Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla and saltines.

The Blue Bell void at my house has been filled this summer by Hey Mikey’s Ice Cream–a local Galveston ice cream maker with a parlor on Postoffice street downtown.

Hey Mikey’s ice cream is rich, creamy, freshly-made and otherwise amazing. Chocolate-chipotle is a shocker, and Sweet Barbecue Sauce gets a prize for originality.

My kids like Mikey’s cookie batter and Irish Car Bomb–but mostly I go for the usual pistachio, chocolate or vanilla.. 14343558

If you hang around supermarkets (and I do), you can’t help but notice that for the last several months, the once expansive Blue Bell section at the typical Texas grocery store ice cream case has been occupied by Blue Bell competitors–old and new.

Alongside the familiar Blue Bunny, HEB house brand and Dreyer’s, some premium ice creams that I had never seen before appeared.

I wasn’t tempted by gelatos like Trentino’s or Fiorello’s, because if I am going to eat gelato, I would prefer it be freshly made and served in a restaurant or gelato stand. And I don’t find such convoluted flavors as honey-whiskey or apple Betty very appealing so I didn’t bother with some of the weird old-fashioned brands. lick

I sampled several flavors from Lick, an ice cream maker in Austin. The salty caramel flavor was my favorite, the Texas sheet cake chocolate flavor was uninspiring. There are several Brooklyn ice creams that I have not gotten around to trying yet. I already knew organic brands like Julie’s–I am not a big fan. I skipped frozen yogurts and health food brands like Artic Zero, a lactose-free frozen dessert.

The clear winner so far in the Blue Bell understudy contest is McConnell’s Ice Cream–an old Santa Barbara, California brand. The Turkish Coffee flavor tastes like strong cold-brewed coffee and the Summer Fruit Cobbler flavor was the best fruit ice cream I’ve had since Blue Bell Peaches and Cream. Their salty caramel flavor was good too–even if all of these salty caramel ice creams are starting to taste alike. mcconnell

My wife wouldn’t let me buy the newly introduced Adam’s Ice Cream, because she thinks it contains some artificial as well as natural vanilla. She insists artificial vanilla is made with beaver anal secretions, a contention I can’t entirely refute.

McConnell’s Vanilla Bean is a good substitute for Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla beside a warm slice of pie. The ice cream company claims to use an exclusive hybrid French pot process to make their ice cream. My wife likes McConnell’s all natural flavor policy.

It will be interesting to see how quickly consumers embrace the return of the creamery from Brenham, now that we have all broken the Blue Bell habit. I suspect we may be eating Hey Mikey’s and McConnell’s ice creams at my house for quite awhile.

But if Blue Bell tries very hard, they just might win us back. At least for a fling.

4 comments to Blue Bell Returns: But Have We Moved On?

  • Ashley

    We have moved on too. We are hooked on McConnell’s. It is so creamy! I really hope they don’t take it out when Blue Bell is back. I’m sure we will continue to get Blue Bell, but I am much more impressed with McConnell’s.

  • Susan

    Moved on???? Not a chance! We have not had any cream since Blue Bell closed and we still plan to wait until they are back! Should that never happen, I guess we’ll figure out plan B.

  • Brenda

    I will be buying Blue Bell just as soon as it is available in my area! I miss my blue bell!!!!

  • cephalopodoflove

    Tillamook from Oregon has been on point. Kroger Studemont has been carrying it.