A century ago, Blue Bell ice cream was a long way from being the Texas institution it is today.
The little creamery in Brenham didn’t even sell ice cream; its only product was butter.
Four years later, the company started making a whopping 2 gallons of ice cream a day, selling whatever workers couldn’t eat.
As recently as the 1950s and 1960s, Blue Bell even sold fireworks to supplement its bottom line through the slow holiday season.
It is now the third-most-popular ice cream brand in the country, behind industry giants Dreyer’s and Breyers even though it can be found in less than half of the U.S.
But it is No. 1 in Texas, with a market share as high as 60 percent in some cities
Blue Bell, led by three generations of the Kruse family since 1919, has always had something on its side: Ice cream aficionados like what they taste.
There are many, such as the late New York Times food writer R.W. Apple Jr., who have argued that Blue Bell might be the best mass-produced ice cream in the country.
“Blue Bell is not all hat and no cattle, as they say of some things and some people in Texas,” Apple wrote in May 2006. “With clean, vibrant flavors and a rich, luxuriant consistency achieved despite a butterfat content a little lower than some competitors, it hooks you from the first spoonful.”
That’s why Blue Bell’s 100th anniversary is creating such a fuss.
Too bad not everyone can experience the greatness that is Blue Bell.