Monday, September 7, 2015

Like Asking The Cats Humans
Who Gets The Cream Blue Bell

This morning as we dressed for our Labor Day outing, Stella favored me with a wicked grin and flashed me. It is probably illegal in Texas for a mid-sixties-ish woman to look that enticing, but she does, and I, remembering that Blue Bell Ice Cream came back on the market about 2-3 days ago after what seemed an eternity to those of us addicted to it, couldn't help thinking... but not saying aloud... "By the way, Stella, let's remember to stop by a Blue Bell outlet [note: not every store has been favored with a restock yet, and only four flavors are available] and pick up some Homemade Vanilla just before we return home." Instead, I said something equally complimentary and a lot less publicly repeatable, and indeed we did get some Blue Bell on the way home. Mmmmm! It's been a day full of treats!

Those without a steady supply of Blue Bell have to understand: when the company calls their vanilla ice cream "Homemade," I don't question their choice of word for even a second: what they sell bears a respectable resemblance to the ice cream both sets of grandparents hand-cranked when I was a tot... and little else on the market here evokes that memory the way Blue Bell does. Their traditional flavors do not assault the ice cream lover with too much sugar or overly intense flavorings; if you buy Dutch Chocolate or Homemade Vanilla or plain old Strawberry, the flavors are about 99 percent like those you once cranked, and the Strawberry contains small chunks of, um, strawberry, the real thing.

Welcome back, Blue Bell. Don't ever go away again!


  1. Ok --- so --- homemade vanilla, dutch chocolate, strawberry ---- and what's the 4th flavour?

  2. Inquiring minds (and taste buds) want to know . . .

    1. c, it's not really a fourth flavor: it's The Great Divide... which is Homemade Vanilla and Dutch Chocolate in one container, not blended but each in its own section of the container. Apparently they're not selling the same flavors in all parts of the country; the list for San Francisco had five flavors, at least two of which were not what we have here. I'm sure they'll soon be offering all of them everywhere. The Homemade Vanilla was identical to the former recipe; I'm very pleased. I haven't tried the rest yet; most stores limit each purchaser to two flavors at a time right now. Soon enough...

      OT: It occurred to me to wonder today whether your PBS "Create" broadcast station offers "Christina Cooks" ... she looks nothing like you, but by all appearances she really can cook!

    2. c, for clarity: I do like plenty of other flavors; it's just that vanilla is absolutely essential for eating with apple pie or just about any fruit pie (Stella promptly brought home a three-berry pie from Trader Joe's). And The Great Divide is filled somewhat like traditional Neapolitan, but has only two flavors.

      BTW, Fiesta Mart has started carrying that nice dessert, rice quesadillas (render it in Spanish if you prefer). It's only occasionally available at the store across from NRG Park (formerly Reliant Stadium), and that only when the Fiesta in the most Hispanic neighborhood, where it's baked, has leftovers on a given day. In the old day's I'd have driven straight there first, but longer drives are more problematical for me the more the years go by...

    3. Steve, I've never seen "Christina Cooks", but then again, I don't really make a point of looking for cooking shows . . .

    4. Oh, c, I do! If I am not ill or otherwise impeded, I do probably half the cooking here. Stella is a perfectly good cook, often even an imaginative cook to good effect, but she works full-time, leaving me as the "house spouse" to a greater extent... not a complaint; I've learned to cook a few things since the old days myself. TV cooking shows give me ideas more than specific recipes, and at long last on PBS Create there are actually 3 or 4 vegetarian shows (even one vegan!) for the heretofore silent minority that includes Stella and me. ;-)

  3. Unfortunately, they don't assault you with sugar at all anymore -- they've gone to HFC like everyone else in the US, which affects the mouth feel as well as the taste (HFC always leaves a scummy feel in the back of my throat). But yes, aside from ultra pricey stuff like Haagen-Daz, Blue Bell was the only thing left on the shelves that is even good enough to be worth the calories.

    1. pj, while Blue Bell was gone I bought a couple of containers of theoretically respectable brands, with highly variable results... Breyers was a nonstarter; Dreyers was adequate, Haagen Daz was of course good and Ben and Jerry's was respectable. But if I was seeking that childhood reminder, something that Grandma might have hand-cranked, it almost had to be Blue Bell... the other brands just didn't do the trick. I basically did without ice cream the whole time Blue Bell was unavailable.

  4. Alas, Steve, after reading the lead article of the Houston Chronicle today (Sunday, Sep. 13, 2015) I'm thinking that I may not buy any more Blue Bell products. That's after many years of swearing by Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla (maybe that won't rub off on you, but I am only half a block away). I made up a new caption for the Chronicle's article: "Listeria monocytogenes thought Brenham was Heaven!"

    1. George, the Chron article seems not to be online under that headline, at least not to nonsubscribers, but here is a Houston Press article with apparently similar content.

      As for me, I survived a decade or more of my grandparents' hand-cranked back on the farm; it may have conferred some sort of immunity on me... and if not, well, hell, everybody's gotta die sometime, and if I can't die in bed with my sweetie, it may as well be with something as sweet as Blue Bell. If the gov't is going to be taken over by the likes of Kim Davis, I really don't want to be around to see that, anyway: I'd rather claim Blue Bell as the body-and-blood of my religious communion... :twisted:

    2. Steve, you really need to read the Houston Chronicle article -- Google "blue bell ice cream news houston chronicle" for it. I read the entire Houston Press article, and found that it does not cover a lot of things.

      My saying I probably would not buy any more Blue Bell products was not based on the likelihood that I or my family might get listeriosis, but on the manufacturing culture that existed at the Blue Bell plants. The Chronicle article gives some graphic descriptions of employee injuries apparently due to failure by management to maintain a safe facility. Providing lots of jobs is a good thing, and Blue Bell did that until the latest crisis, but the working conditions should be safe, which they were not. Indeed, some of the safety features on machines were overridden, and that caused one or more employees to lose parts of fingers.

      I simply cannot see supporting a company that operates that way.



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