Discover Austin: Blue Bell - Episode 38
Just 90 miles east of Austin sits Brenham, Texas, home to Blue Bell ice cream. Discover Austin recently spent the day visiting the Little Creameries with our gracious hostess, Johanna Fatheree. While I didn’t grow up near the creamery in Brenham like Johanna, as long as I’ve been a Texan, there’s been Blue Bell ice cream in my freezer.
Other Discover Austin topics mentioned in this episode: Bluebonnets
Blue Bell has long been a part of life in Texas. When I decided to share the Little Creamery with you, I knew right away I had to invite Johanna Fatheree to come along and give us the tour. Johanna has lived in Brenham her whole life and I know her because she is the broker owner of RE/MAX Advantage.
Over 200,000 people visit the Little Creamery each year and the visitor’s center is the first stop. It provides a nice overview of Blue Bell and the ice cream that they sell. They opened in 1907 as the Brenham Creamery Company and sold butter. Ice cream was added in 1911. In 1930, the name changed to Blue Bell (which is a native Texas flower but not to be confused with another popular Texas flower, the Blue Bonnet which was featured in episode 8). By 1958, butter production was eliminated to focus only on ice cream.
One of the highlights is the Observation Deck. While we’re not permitted to show you the view from deck, I can tell you that you it overlooks one of the production areas in which the ice cream is put into the containers. While many ice cream companies reduced the size of their containers years ago, Blue Bell held firm and is still sold in half-gallon containers. The Observation Deck offers a neat glimpse into the making and packaging of ice cream and you definitely should take a look for yourself.
Perhaps my favorite part is the Ice Cream Parlor. Blue Bell offers over 50 flavors of ice cream, though only about 20 are available year-round while the remaining are rotated quarterly. Many of the flavors are available right here, including some that are only available to ice cream parlors and cannot be purchased in stores. And for only $1 a scoop, you can enjoy as much ice cream as you’d like. If you are wondering, the top three flavors of Blue Bell ice cream are Homemade Vanilla, Dutch Chocolate, and Cookies & Cream, in that order.
When you’ve had your fill of ice cream, or perhaps when you are just taking a short break from eating ice cream, be sure to visit the Old Country Store. There’s plenty of Blue Bell inspired gifts and goodies to take home with you.
Over the years the company grew slowly and didn’t expand into larger Texas cities until the 1960s. Now they are in about 20 states and are the number 3 ice cream brand in the country even though the top brands are sold in all 50 states. Blue Bell is so popular in Texas and Louisiana that more than half the ice cream sold in those states features a girl and her cow on the label.
When you visit, be sure to spend a bit of time in Brenham itself. It’s got a quaint downtown with shops and restaurants and exudes that great small-town Texas feel. Located about 90 miles east of Austin, the drive is nice and offers a fun excursion for the day.