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Blue Bell gets a lot of love from Texas

Blue Bell gets a lot of love from Texas

The beloved Texas ice cream maker might be down, but they’re certainly not out

For the longest, Blue Bell was solely a Texas establishment. Their factory is right up the road from Houston. Kids would take school trips to the Blue Bell factory (and I imagine they still do). Everyone grew up looking forward to their seasonal offerings. And Blue Bell was the treat you looked forward to as a kid. Not ice cream — Blue Bell. So when the grocery store is out of Blue Bell, they may as well be out of ice cream altogether.

Beloved Texas staple, Blue Bell ice cream voluntarily pulled their product off the shelves following widespread listeria contamination concerns.

As my sister observed at the grocery store yesterday:

Noooooo 🙁

A photo posted by Kristee Masters (@masterlenn) on

The massive voluntary recall was the first since the creamery opened in 1907. Closed temporarily, Monday, “Blue Bell Ice Cream will embark on an intensive cleaning program while it simultaneously conducts a new training program for its employees at all four production facilities with locations in Alabama, Oklahoma and Texas.”

Friday afternoon, Blue Bell released the following video:

Our employees are working hard to bring Blue Bell back. Here’s their message for you:

Posted by Blue Bell Ice Cream on Friday, April 24, 2015

Citizens in Blue Bell’s hometown Brenham, Texas, came together Friday for “Support Blue Bell” day.

But “Support Blue Bell” day didn’t end there. According to Houston local news, “hundreds who gathered at the Washington County courthouse wore old-fashioned ice cream parlor hats Saturday morning as part of a rally and prayer vigil to support a century-old pillar of their community.”

If brand management experts are correct, Blue Bell loyalists will flock back to to their favorite creamy confection when it becomes available once more.

“The fans will stick with them and come back maybe even stronger than ever,” if the company continues to be open and proactive, said Josh Feldmeth, chief executive of Interbrand North America. “They’re in growth mode. I think their challenge will be to reintroduce themselves to people who are hearing about Blue Bell for the first time through this crisis.”

Zero in on consumers in the South, and Blue Bell moves almost shoulder to shoulder with the big boys in terms of overall brand performance. Based on strong sales in its core market, Blue Bell said it has grown to become one of the top three ice cream makers in the nation, even though it is sold in only about a third of U.S. grocery stores. For a regional brand to “sit as close to and be as highly held as Ben & Jerry’s or a Häagen-Dazs is a big deal,” Peacock said.

And that will make a big difference as the brand attempts to woo consumers.

“People who are close to the brand and are familiar with this brand really love this brand,” he said, adding that Blue Bell will have “a degree of forgiveness that a lesser brand would not.”

“If you have limited experience with a brand, you may start to believe, ‘Well, this is a brand I have to be careful about,’” he said.

And that whole corporate responsibility thing? Blue Bell seems to be nailing it there, too.

While some called for even more transparency, most praised president and chief executive Paul Kruse (pronounced crew-ZEEH) for launching new safety steps and explaining those steps to the public.

“They are stepping up and taking responsibility,” said former Plano resident Tammy Katz, who heads Katz Marketing Solutions and is an adjunct professor of brand management at Ohio State.

“From everything I’m seeing it looks like they’re behaving quite ethically and responsibly. You are in crisis mode, and you are focusing on doing the right thing for consumers.”

Even the company’s total recall, which followed three smaller recalls, was a “massively good thing,” said Interbrand’s Feldmeth, who is also a fan.

“Your brand heritage is: quality ice cream done the right way. When one problem occurs, we’re going to shut the whole system down till we get it right. We’re not going to chance it,” he said.

“And if you’re a Blue Bell fan, you respect that.”

The move, which essentially dropped the company’s revenue to zero, showed that Blue Bell was willing to put customer safety ahead of profits, some said. Also, from a strategic standpoint, it ended the increasing number of recalls — one, followed by another, followed by another — saving the company from possible death by a thousand cuts.

In spite of current contamination concerns, Blue Bell’s future looks bright. Meanwhile, I’m not so patiently waiting for a pint of Blue Bell’s Dutch Chocolate. It’s the best.

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Comments

Why didn’t I see this coming? Anybody have a half gallon of vanilla for sell?

I grew up with Hill Country Peach and Peppermint Stick. They will be back.

Henry Hawkins | April 26, 2015 at 8:42 pm

I’ve never heard of Blue Bell ice cream. Good huh?

When we first moved to NC from Texas we had family members send me a few half gallons packed in dry ice. BB finally made it here about 7 years ago – but still hasn’t taken the market, thanks mostly to the buyers at Harris Teeter. I’m just hoping this incident doesn’t result in their leaving this market. Gotta have their Cookies N Cream and Homemade Vanilla!

The 242,432,982,432 thing I liked best about living in Texas.

rabid wombat | April 26, 2015 at 9:18 pm

for cold cow sqeezings….these are right tasty……

Butter Pecan……mmmmmmmmmmmmmm

If you ever get the chance, tour a Blue Bell plant.

Oh, and THIS is how you do crisis management. They’ll be back, strong as ever.

White chocolate almond………..

“For a regional brand to “sit as close to and be as highly held as Ben & Jerry’s or a Häagen-Dazs is a big deal,” Peacock said.”
Ben & Jerry’s has gone down hill since the sale. Häagen-Dazs is overpriced and overrated.

Out my way, it’s either Tillamook, Umpqua or Bust.

Tillamook Marion Berry Pie ice cream is amazing.

    Paul in reply to Paul. | April 27, 2015 at 1:04 pm

    Addictive as crack I presume. What sort of pie does it taste like?

      (Assuming I’m dealing with two different commenters with the name “Paul”:)

      Marionberries are a local (Northwestern) variant of blackberries. The flavor’s slightly different, but “kinda like blackberries” is a decent enough starting point.

      Tillamook (pronounced TILL-uh-muhk) Marion Berry Pie nails the perfect flavor balance between berry, pie crust, and vanilla ice cream. Marionberry pie a la mode is better in one aspect only: the pie is served warm.

      Umpqua makes the best Cookies ‘n Cream ’round these parts, though.

one improvement they could make is to drop dyes from their ingredients.

healthguyfsu | April 27, 2015 at 7:06 am

Never seen anything special about Blue Bell. Tastes like any other ice cream to me.

    tnxplant in reply to healthguyfsu. | April 27, 2015 at 12:24 pm

    I prefer Turkey Hill All Natural products. For example, their chocolate peanut butter ice cream ingredients are cream, nonfat milk, sugar, peanut butter (peanuts, sugar, salt), cocoa. In contrast, Blue Bell adds high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, cellulose gum, guar gum, carrageenan, and carob bean gum to their product.

    So you think all ice creams taste the same? Poor guy, I guess you should just stick to your granola and the like then.

    MJN1957 in reply to healthguyfsu. | April 27, 2015 at 5:21 pm

    Heretic

    healthguyfsu in reply to healthguyfsu. | April 27, 2015 at 10:48 pm

    Wow 4 downvotes for ice cream taste preferences (or lack thereof)….this blog is so political.

pablo panadero | April 27, 2015 at 7:38 am

I live in the Columbus, Ohio area, and we have a relatively new brand called “Jeni’s” which is sold mostly in their own shops. It is expensive, but highly creative (examples include Salted Goat Cheese, Brambleberry, and Lambic [made from a Belgian cherry beer]). They too have closed and pulled all stock from shelves over the past 4 days.

I know that the Jeni’s listeria test was done in a lab in Nebraska. I know enough about lab testing to be aware of false positives. Not making any accusations, but the test labs need to be thoroughly vetted.

Yeah, but how do they feel about the gays?

Just kidding, Blue Bell is good stuff…

As for whether or not the creamery tours still happen, yep. My youngest toured the place(again) on April 11th after the Blue Bell Fun Run was over. She had a blast.

I love the stuff. Moo-llennium Crunch my favorite!

Here is their flavor list:
http://cdn.bluebell.com/what_were_crankin_out/our_ice_cream.html

I have some catching up to do!

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