Blue Bell Ice Cream
Blue Bell Ice CreamTexas' own Blue Bell is the third most popular ice cream in the country, but it's sold in only 16 states. That speaks volumes about the loyalty of its customers and the quality of the ice cream. Blue Bell began in 1907, down the road not far south of Austin in a little town called Brenham. A group of local farmers were blessed with too much cream and decided to open a butter-churning operation, and the Brenham Creamery Co. was born. With more milk came the decision to add ice cream to the mix, and soon the company was delivering by horse and wagon to local customers. In 1930, that little German-American creamery decided to name itself after a local wildflower, the Texas Bluebell (Eustoma grandiflorum).
Now Blue Bell has four plants, one in Oklahoma, one in Alabama, and two in Brenham. The milk from 50,000 Jersey and Holstein cows from dairies within 200 miles of Brenham is delivered every day. That milk produces about 50 different rotating flavors a year – a core list of 17 permanent flavors, plus others changing region to region, based on what is seasonal. The ice cream is made in rows of 60-gallon, small-batch freezers, and the company's goal, according to President Emeritus Howard Kruse, is "to fill our customers up on taste, not on fat and sugar." Blue Bell still makes half gallons, and the ice cream isn't pumped full of air like its competitors'. Blue Bell is so good that LBJ used to load up the galley freezers of Air Force One to haul it back to D.C., and in 1995 Atlantis shuttle astronauts insisted it be launched with them into space.
An essential piece of travel gear while in Austin is a spoon, since Blue Bell is sold in many convenience stores, and you never know when you might need a fix. Word: The new Mocha Madness flavor is deliciously addictive! For more civilized tasting, there are several Central Austin spots that serve Blue Bell. – M.V.
Austin Hilton500 E. Fourth, 482-8000
Shady Grove1624 Barton Springs Rd., 474-9991
Threadgill's6416 N. Lamar, 451-5440
301 W. Riverside, 472-9304
Big Top Candy Shop1706 S. Congress, 462-2220
Tiff's Treats1806 Nueces, 473-2600
11011 Research, 349-2200