The Best Ice Cream in the Country

Do you think you’ve tasted the best ice cream in the country? If Blue Bell hasn’t passed across your palate then you haven’t.

Brenham

The Brenham Creamery Company started out in 1907 as a butter producer, but now it’s simply known as Blue Bell Creameries. Named after the Texas wildflower, the “Little Creamery” in Brenham has been churning out delicious ice cream since 1911. Back then they delivered ice cream by horse and wagon. Now it’s the third best-selling ice cream in the country despite only being sold in 26% of the country’s grocery stores. Being that it’s only available in twenty states, mostly throughout the South, makes that percentage even more phenomenal. A family affair, the operations at Blue Bell have thrived over the years in the hands of three generations of leadership from the Kruse family. Blue Bell has been served to international dignitaries by President George W. Bush and was the first to mass produce Cookies ‘n Cream. Not bad.

Blue Bell6

Blue Bell reminds me of the hand-cranked ice cream that my grandmother used to make. Only the finest milk, freshest cream, and sweetest sugar is good enough for this old-fashioned ice cream. Blue Bell offers twenty year-round flavors and 37 rotational flavors; it’s tough to pick a favorite. Despite year-round flavors such as Moo-llennium Crunch, Pecan Pralines ‘n Cream, and Krazy Kookie Dough, the number one best seller is Homemade Vanilla. It has been since its creation in 1969.

Blue Bell4

Seasonal ingredients help dictate and are used in creating the rotational flavors. Summer flavors are chock-full of the freshest fruits. Southern Blackberry Cobbler, Peaches & Homemade Vanilla, Summer Berries, and Strawberry Cheesecake are just a few of the fruit-based flavors available in August. Meanwhile decadent flavors such as Chocolate Mud Pie, Coconut Fudge, Birthday Cake, and Triple Chocolate will satisfy the cocoa lover. The only problem with falling in love with a rotational flavor is that it’s only available for three months out of the year.

 

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I dare you to find a grocery or convenience store in Texas that does not have at least one Blue Bell product. Pints, half gallons, pops, bars, sandwiches, and sherbert are readily available. But if you want to go straight to the source,  Blue Bell offers tours. Available on weekdays only, these 45-minute guided tours take visitors through the production facilities and shows how Blue Bell makes ice cream. From the observation deck, visitors see the inner workings of the ice cream empire. Enthusiasts learn that gold-rim flavors, like Triple Chocolate, are simpler and have fewer ingredients than the more complex brown-rim flavors, like Strawberry Cheesecake. At a cost of $5 for adults and $3 for kids and seniors, it’s a great value considering the scoop of ice cream waiting at the end of the tour. If one scoop isn’t enough, you can always purchase more for $1.

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In addition to the tour and ice cream parlor, Blue Bell has a country store filled with souvenirs and gift items for the ice cream lover in your life. Ceramic bowls, cow art, ice cream scoops, books, and t-shirts are just a smattering of the items available. The Country Store is open Monday-Saturday, so even if you can’t get to Brenham during the week, you can still stop by Blue Bell for a $1 scoop of ice cream and a little shopping.

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I moved to Brenham just before my senior year in high school. I’d never heard of Blue Bell, much less tried it. Fortunately (and unfortunately for my waistline), I made friends with a factory tour guide. At least three days a week I’d visit her and take the factory tour. Each time, without batting an eye, I’d make my way over to the parlor and get my free scoop of ice cream. Pints and half gallons filled my family’s refrigerator. Bowls weren’t needed, only a spoon and the carton.

Blue Bell Ice Creamery in Brenham, Texas

After two short months in Brenham, I’d put five pounds of mint chocolate chip ice cream onto my thighs. Luckily school started. My thrice-weekly tours stopped, and my nightly ice cream binges became less frequent. My love of Blue Bell hasn’t slowed down, but unfortunately my metabolism has. I don’t eat it like I used to, but when I feel like treating myself, I always reach for Blue Bell.

What’s my favorite flavor?

  • Banana Pudding
  • Key Lime Pie
  • Spiced Pumpkin Pecan
  • Peppermint
  • Summer Strawberry Pie
  • Mint Chocolate Chip
  • Coconut Fudge

You certainly didn’t think I could just pick one, did you? “Blue Bell, the best ice cream in the country” isn’t just the company’s slogan.

It’s the honest truth.

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40 Comments
  • Kristin Shaw
    August 7, 2012

    Mmmmm…. I love Blue Bell! I also love that they don’t use eggs in their recipe, which means my little boy loves it too. Did you try the Christmas Cookie edition last winter? It was so good.

    • Leah Travels
      August 7, 2012

      I did not try the Christmas Cookie last winter. I don’t tend to eat ice cream when it’s cold, plus I was in New Zealand a good bit of that time. I’ll try it this year. It sounds delicious.

  • Stephanie
    August 7, 2012

    When I saw your entry title, I thought to myself, “She better be referring to Blue Bell.” :)) Great entry ma’am!

    • Leah Travels
      August 7, 2012

      Oh, thanks, Stephanie. I wouldn’t DARE call any other ice cream “the best in the country.” I’m afraid I’d have to turn in my Texan card if I did.

  • Frank DiCesare
    August 7, 2012

    Blue Bell’s chocolate chip is my favorite. I still can’t believe it’s one of their seasonal flavors. I wish they’d make it available throughout the year. I like their strawberry ice cream, too.

    • Leah Travels
      August 7, 2012

      I knew you’d enjoy this, Frank. I also remembered that Chocolate Chip is your absolute favorite. I, too, find it odd that it’s a seasonal flavor. I guess you best stock up.

  • Laura
    August 7, 2012

    We have Blue Bell in Colorado now but it doesn’t taste the same. It was like that Christmas when you were 8 and you just knew you were getting the Barbie Dream House and instead you got something equally awesome but it wasn’t exactly what you wanted.

    My favorite flavor is seasonal: Parker County Peach. Do they still make it?

    Thanks for your Tuesday Texas entries! They are so much fun to read even if they make me homesick sometimes.

    • Leah Travels
      August 7, 2012

      You know, Laura, they may make your ice cream at the Oklahoma plant. Perhaps that’s why it tastes different. Who knows? Maybe it’s the altitude that gives it a different flavor. I tend to think that Blue Bell just tastes better in Texas. What do you think?

  • Paul
    August 7, 2012

    Great article, Leah!

    Blue Bell is a tradition tradition in my family! Growing up, my grandparents lived nearby in Bellville – and my grandmother would take us to the Blue Bell factory for tours each summer when we would go visit. Now, my parents live in Bellville – and they can’t wait to take their grand kids to Brenham when they’re a tiny bit older.

    • Leah Travels
      August 7, 2012

      It’s such a small world, Paul. I didn’t know your family was from Bellville. I used to go through there all the time. They had a terrible speed trap just before you get to I10 on 36. Ugh…

      It’s so neat that you get to pass the tradition of Blue Bell on to your kids. It’s certainly worth sharing. 🙂

  • @mrsoaroundworld
    August 7, 2012

    Wow wow wow, I would do anything for some ice cream right now. You do know you have to take me on the tour at least twice when we go to Texas one day? Coconut fudge sounds amazing.. I wonder if they have salted caramel? I would totally supersize that!

    • Leah Travels
      August 7, 2012

      You deserve some ice cream after the day you’ve had, Ana. Coconut fudge is awesome, but I’m a huge fan of coconut. It kind of tastes like a Mound’s bar. I’ve never seen salted caramel, but that doesn’t mean that they haven’t had it and discontinued it. I’ll keep a look out for you.

  • Francesca
    August 7, 2012

    ICE CREEEEEEEEEEEEAM!! It’s one of my core food groups! Don’t think I’ve ever had Blue Bell, though. I’d remember if I had, right? 😉 I might be doing a southern road trip later this year. If so, I’ll be on the lookout for some Blue Bell ice cream.

    • Leah Travels
      August 7, 2012

      Oh, you’d remember Blue Bell if you’d had it. It would haunt your dreams…in a great way.

      It’s available in the following states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wyoming.

      Get thee to one of these places S.T.A.T.

  • Jeremy Branham
    August 7, 2012

    I have to completely disagree on this one. Blue Bell is fine but I love Breyer’s. Plus a lot of homemade ice cream tastes much better than mass produced brands. I am no ice cream connoisseur but Blue Bell is better than average but not the best.

    • Leah Travels
      August 7, 2012

      You and I have drastically different tastes, Jeremy. I mean, you don’t like coffee or Mexican food. I can’t say I’m not surprised that you don’t think Blue Bell is the best. We do agree about homemade ice cream, although I’m not patient enough to make that. For me, Blue Bell is the next best thing. 🙂

  • Mark Wiens
    August 7, 2012

    Making friends with a tour guide at an ice cream factory is always a good idea, and I do like the way you eat – no bowl required! I think I’ve seen Blue Bell at the grocery store, but don’t think I’ve ever tried it – I’ll try next time I’m in the US.

    • Leah Travels
      August 9, 2012

      I couldn’t agree more, Mark. I always seem to make friends with the right kind of people. 🙂 Check out Blue Bell when you’re back in the States. Hopefully you’ll be in one of the 20 states that sells it.

  • Gina
    August 8, 2012

    Sounds delicious! I didn’t think any ice cream could beat McConnell’s in Santa Barbara, CA, but guess I need to try Blue Bell before I fully make up my mind. 😉

    • Leah Travels
      August 9, 2012

      I know sampling different kinds of ice cream must sound like the ultimate torture, but I think you’re up for it, Gina. Let me know what you think when you do try Blue Bell.

  • Arianwen
    August 8, 2012

    God I wish I could have some of this right now. It’s so hot in Cartagena!

    • Leah Travels
      August 9, 2012

      Hehe…I wish you could have some too. I’m afraid it wouldn’t fare too well on the trip to South America. 😉

  • Ayngelina
    August 8, 2012

    Ooh I love the idea of Spiced Pumpkin Pecan – I want some!

    • Leah Travels
      August 9, 2012

      You’re telling me, Ayngelina. I love me some pumpkin. I’d guess that 80% of my cooking Pinterest board has pumpkin in it. This will be available in October and discontinued after the New Year I believe.

  • D.J. - The World of Deej
    August 9, 2012

    You’re speaking to my heart here…Blue Bell is some good stuff. There are tons of commercials for them here in Florida touting they still sell full half gallons, whereas the others scam you out of a pint!

    • Leah Travels
      August 9, 2012

      Damn right, DJ. Finally someone that can speak from experience (and that agrees with me, which is always important). When I lived in Brenham we had a spring fun run that Blue Bell sponsored. At the end was unlimited ice cream, which I always thought was funny. Go out and run a 5k and then gorge yourself on ice cream. If that’s not incentive to finish I don’t know what is.

  • Waegook Tom
    August 9, 2012

    Oh dear lord Leah, these sound amazing! I’ve never heard of Blue Bell before now, but you’ve aroused my curiosity. If you can send me the Southern Blueberry Cobbler, Pecan Praline & Cream, Key Lime Pie, Peaches & Homemade Vanilla, and Coconut Fudge, I’m sure that’ll see me through for the week.

    • Leah Travels
      August 9, 2012

      When I went to the Blue Bell Creamery last summer the lady scooping the ice cream said that the Southern Blueberry Cobbler is the most popular. You’re in good company requesting that flavor. And who are you trying to kid? Five half gallons will barely get you through the night. 😉

  • Craig Zabransky
    August 9, 2012

    Best in the country, does that mean Texas or the US? Either way, I’ll definitely be reaching for a blue bell next time in Texas… I do love me some great ice cream.
    stay adventurous, Craig

  • the lazy travelers
    August 10, 2012

    uuuhh spiced pumpkin pecan?????? need.

  • lola
    August 10, 2012

    i remember going to the Blue Bell shop in our town growing up but usually i went for the ice cream sundae or the banana split. i cannot even imagine eating that now! oh to be a kid again!!

    yummmmmy ice cream. 🙂

  • Traveling Ted
    August 11, 2012

    I have a weakness for ice cream when I am not drinking beer. They just don’t go well together. Problem is, I am always drinking beer, so not much time for ice cream. If I am ever in Texas and maybe in one of those rare moments in between a sip, I will have to check out some Blue Bell’s ice cream. Spiced pumpkin pecan sounds amazing.

    • Leah Travels
      August 13, 2012

      Now, if Blue Bell would just make beer-flavored ice cream you’d be set, Ted. Everyone is really high on this spiced pumpkin. I have to agree as it is one of my favorites. Me thinks that it evokes visions of Thanksgiving and cooler weather.

  • Pola (@jettingaround)
    August 13, 2012

    OK I’m sitting here, reading travel articles, craving something sweet and then I see this!! Mercy! This place looks absolutely lovely – family business, long-standing tradition, extra scoops for $1… What’s not to love?

    • Leah Travels
      August 13, 2012

      What’s not to love? I’d say the extra pounds you’ll put on from the gluttony! Yep. That’s about it, but it’s kind of worth it. Just sayin’. 😉

  • Tawny- Captain and Clark
    August 13, 2012

    Banana pudding? Coconut fudge? Oh, stop it! I can’t take anymore. I don’t think I can say that I’ve ever had Blue Bell ice cream. It’s probably for the best. I’d be about 15 lbs heavier if I had access to it.

    • Leah Travels
      August 13, 2012

      We are going to have to rectify that, Tawny. As much as you travel across this land, you must make sure you get some Blue Bell. Perhaps y’all should do a twenty state road trip trying out different flavors in each one. It’d make a great video. 🙂

  • Peaches and Homemade Vanilla, Tin Roof, Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough… I could go on forever about my favorite flavors. Unfortunately, I’m in Malaysia now where most of the local ice cream has palm oil as a primary ingredient. Yuck! So, I’ve been forced to churn my own supply, but I dream of visiting Texas this summer and gorging on Blue Bell.

  • Marc Daigle
    January 20, 2014

    I’m a Texan and I dare not to put any other ice cream in my freezer than Blue Bell. It is simply the most delicious, richest, decadent ice cream ever. Growing up in Houston it is all anyone ever ate and we continue to this day. Loyal Blue Bell enthusiast to the day I die, great article I truly wish more people around the country could experience the wonderfulness of the best ice cream in the country. Banana nut, moo-llennium crunch, banana split, tin roof, chocolate chip cookie dough…oh I could go on and on my inner fat boy is revealing himself.

  • Jack
    July 16, 2014

    Hi Leah, I just found your post on the Waterford Tour and I must admit, I was enthralled. I too love Blue Bell but, life has moved me to Chicago where great food abounds besides, Tex-Mex and Blue Bell (oh, and biscuits and gravy, chicken fried steak, bbq, etc.) Anyway, I consider myself to be a better than average speller and once got in a heated debate about the correct spelling of sherbet. My entire life, I heard everyone call it sherbert and swore it had two R’s, like your post. It was to my surprise when I had to eat crow. LOL Thanks for helping me remember The Good Stuff!!

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