113. We All Scream for Blue Bell Ice Cream

12 Oct

The other day, my dad was telling me about some really good homemade ice cream he’d eaten. I said, “Was it actually homemade or was it Blue Bell?” He said, “Oh! It was the Blue Bell Homemade.”

That’s a flavor, y’all.

Once my parents discovered Blue Bell’s “Homemade Vanilla” they never looked back at the bad old days of ice and rock salt. Why bother if you can get yourself a half-gallon of homemade-ish ice cream for $5.99 at Kroger in less than ten minutes, depending on how fast the “express” line moves.

I, myself, was skeptical, but when I tasted the “Homemade Vanilla,” I had to agree that it was good stuff. Flavorwise, anyway. (I’ll spare y’all the commentary on high fructose corn syrup. You’re welcome!) But does it live up to folks’ claims that it “tastes just like homemade”? Sort of. But also, not really. Seeing as I haven’t had the opportunity to do a side-by-side taste test, I couldn’t say for sure. How can one possibly expect accurate results when comparing ice cream stored in memory with a spoonful “fresh” from the freezer?

Folks in Texas have been enjoying Blue Bell ice cream for the better part of a century. I’m not sure when distribution expanded to other Southern states and then up and over to parts of the midwest, but I do know when Blue Bell arrived in Seattle. The 12th of Never, unfortunately. Nor can the brand be found anywhere in Washington state, Oregon, or California, not for lack of trying on my part. One day, as I perused my grocer’s freezer a brief moment of elation ensued when I spotted the brand “Blue Bunny.” Alas, this was a case of mistaken identity…

A grocer’s freezer, not near me.

If you happen to be burdened with an overabundance of filthy lucre, the folks at Blue Bell will happily overnight four half gallons to your home or office for $129. Which at first glance seems a bit spendy, but seeing as I’ve been known to pay $4 for a scoop of Molly Moon’s salted caramel maybe the math works out. Sadly, I don’t have room for four tubs of ice cream in my freezer, so it’s a moot point. (Unless y’all can help me convince Geoff that I need a deep freeze.)

Blue Bell has a vast selection of regular and seasonal flavors, but I’ve only tried the “Homemade Vanilla.” I can’t recall finding any other kind in stock at my dad’s house. Of course, that doesn’t explain why I opted for the same flavor when I lucked upon a purveyor of Blue Bell while passing through a Texas airport terminal on a trip to MS last Christmas. Or why I got the same kind on the way back home.

Looking over their flavor selection, I’ve decided I need to branch out more. Sadly, I’ll miss the August flavors Southern Blackberry Cobbler and Strawberry Cheesecake. But maybe I’ll find the Pecan Pralines & Cream or the seasonal Christmas Cookies (which, it seems, is also a summer flavor known as Christmas Cookies in July).

Follow that truck!

What I’m really hoping to try is the flavor I heard about from my friend Julie who moved back to Texas for grad school last year. When she was surveying the Blue Bell selection, a friendly older gentleman kept pushing her towards his favorite, Banana Pudding, which he described thusly, “It’s like pudding, but it’s ice cream!”

Pass me the tub. Also, a spoon.

What’s your favorite Blue Bell flavor? And do you think the Homemade Vanilla is worthy of its name?

Photo Credits: BB Homemade Vanilla by kusine, Flickr Creative Commons; BB freezer display by headexplodie, Flickr Creative Commons; BB truck by .imelda, Flickr Creative Commons.

25 Responses to “113. We All Scream for Blue Bell Ice Cream”

  1. Breenie October 12, 2012 at 12:45 pm #

    Blue Bell…IS….THAT…GOOD!! (Please do not EVER get it confused with BLUE BUNNY~~~that’s a completely different story! UGH!!!)

    My favorite BBell ice cream flavors are “The Great Divide (half chocolate/ half homemade vanilla) and the Homemade Vanilla.

    Cracker Barrel serves Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla ice cream with their coca-cola (“coke-cola”) cake. Out of this world!!!

    • Kim Holloway October 12, 2012 at 1:26 pm #

      Funny you should mention that! I just made coca-cola cake for the first time a few days ago. Wish I had some BB homemade vanilla to go along with it.

  2. Todd October 12, 2012 at 12:52 pm #

    I’m in Nashville, so, while I like Blue Bell, I gotta go with Purity.

    • Kim Holloway October 12, 2012 at 1:28 pm #

      Ok, I must admit I had to google purity ice cream. Oh, my! They make an O’Charley’s caramel pie flavor! Where has this been all my life?

  3. Mallory October 12, 2012 at 1:37 pm #

    My favorite is birthday cake. Also the Mardi Gras flavor. I need to try the strawberry cheesecake STAT. My parents always have the homemade vanilla too, but it’s not my fave. I prefer the french vanilla flavor to the homemade. I think Haagen Dazs vanilla is the best in the world (tastes like Marble Slab!)–just a sidenote.

    • Kim Holloway October 19, 2012 at 1:09 pm #

      I would love to try the birthday cake flavor. Two great tastes that taste great together. What’s not to love?

  4. TrixiesMom October 12, 2012 at 1:57 pm #

    Kim, I believe you are the funniest, and most relevant, blogger in American (or Merica) today. Molly at Molly Moon makes some good ice cream and donates generously to homeless children all over Seattle, so that $4 is worth it. I’m glad Seattle has you bringing a little Southern to their day. In turn I do my part to bring a little Seattle to my Southern town by having the only Obama yard sign on the block. If Virginia goes blue in November you can thank me.

    • Kim Holloway October 19, 2012 at 1:12 pm #

      Thank you so much for your note! It made my day! I will, indeed, thank you if Virginia goes blue in November!!

  5. Hope October 12, 2012 at 3:18 pm #

    Blue Bell is so very good! I didn’t realize you couldn’t get it in other places. What did we do so right to deserve such special treatment?

    But I wish I could still have some of my Grandmother’s homemade ice cream – she would freeze little portions of it in left over plastic butter tubs!!! Mmmmm.

    • Kim Holloway October 19, 2012 at 1:15 pm #

      Today’s newfangled ice cream makers, while convenient, just don’t seem to make homemade ice cream as good as I remember.

  6. Kasia October 12, 2012 at 4:32 pm #

    Blue Bell Banana Pudding ice cream is my favorite EVER! But Homemade Vanilla is classic and I’m serving it tomorrow with apple cake!

    • Kim Holloway October 19, 2012 at 1:15 pm #

      Yum! Sounds great. Wish I were there…

  7. Julie Newberry (@Jbeebus) October 12, 2012 at 7:24 pm #

    I also recommend Moolenium crunch. My Granny almost always has a gallon in her freezer. It’s to die for.

    • Kim Holloway October 19, 2012 at 1:18 pm #

      Oh, man, Julie, that looks good! Except for the walnuts. What self-respecting Southern food manufacturer adds walnuts to stuff? What were they thinking??

  8. Sara October 12, 2012 at 10:48 pm #

    Blue Bell *was* available in California at some point – I specifically remember my grandmother buying it for my dad when we visited one time. Would have been in the 90s at some point.

    My favorite is Cookies n Cream. Yummmmmm…

    Oh, and I’ve been to the factory in Brenham TX. 🙂

    • Kim Holloway October 19, 2012 at 1:19 pm #

      I might have to make a pilgrimage to that factory someday.

  9. Anonymous October 13, 2012 at 8:41 pm #

    I’m from TX and totally grew up on Blue Bell. Their adds used to be “Blue Bell, the best ice cream in the country. I’d have to agree. We did find some in Colorado while on vacation this summer. My husband forked over the $7 for the half gallon and we sat in the car with our kids passing around spoons full. … ummm, we were camping so didn’t really have an ice cream scoop

    • Kim Holloway October 19, 2012 at 1:19 pm #

      Love it! Family togetherness over a tub of Blue Bell!

  10. southofseattle1 October 14, 2012 at 2:34 am #

    That does it. Was going to go to Texas to see my daughter but now I’m going for the Blue Bell. If I could just figure out how to get it back to Seattle with me.

    • Kim Holloway October 19, 2012 at 1:20 pm #

      If you figure it out, let me know.

  11. Jenna Holloway Cochran October 16, 2012 at 9:32 am #

    Kim…I am sure I have told you of this story but I will mention it once again (after all, no good southern story can be told only once). When Shawn and I first started dating; we were going to an event at Mom and Dad’s house…not sure of the occasion. We were tasked by Mom (as you know she was fond of doling out) to pick up ice cream (and I knew what was expected of me to bring). We stopped by the then Jitney Jungle and I told Shawn to go in and buy two containers of Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla. Now, seeing as how we were first dating and all Shawn did as he was told (today would have been a different story…well, maybe not). But he came out more than a little miffed.
    Him: “That ice cream you had me buy was $6.50!” (Remember this was 14 years ago…and even today’s standards is more on the pricy side)
    Me: “And?”
    Him: “Are you kidding me???? That is $2 higher than any other ice cream!!!”
    Me: “And?”
    Him: “I mean, really, what could be so special about it????”
    Me: “You’ll see.”
    This conversation went on for probably the whole car ride to Mom’s.
    Now I don’t recall exactly what he said when he tried it, but needless to say, he shut up about the cost…
    I will admit he is still a Ben and Jerry’s and Breyers lover…but a container of Blue Bell is always in our freezer…and although he still complains about the cost…he still buys it…

    • Kim Holloway October 19, 2012 at 1:25 pm #

      Great story. Too bad I didn’t get around to eating any Blue Bell when I was there, due to the overabundance of other sweets (if there is such a thing). Remind me to look for the banana pudding flavor when I’m back for Christmas.

  12. Collin September 13, 2013 at 10:52 am #

    I’m stumbling into this conversation a year late, but thought I should mention that all Outback Steakhouse restaurants use Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla on their desserts. If you sweet talk them, they’ll even sell you an entire container, but that’s usually about 3-5 gallons, so make sure you have plenty of room in your freezer. I did this for a birthday party a few years back. Being a Texan native in Portland, it took me a lot of searching, too.

    • Kim Holloway November 14, 2013 at 6:27 pm #

      Thanks for the tip, Collin! Sadly, I’d never have room for an entire container, seeing as I haven’t yet managed to get myself a deep freeze.


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