Thursday, 20 September 2012

Blue Bell Creameries - Brenham, Texas

N 30° 09.753 W 096° 22.708

We decided to attend a geocaching event in Brenham, Texas last weekend. It was planned as a fall gathering of the Texas Geocaching Association and sounded like a good excuse for a short road trip and a visit to Blue Bell. My wife and I both grew up with Blue Bell ice cream, but we had never visited its source.


The factory is located just outside of town and has fantastic saint augustine grass lawns (which we haven't seen since leaving Louisiana) and a nice little ice cream parlour attached to the museum and factory. A tour costs $5 a person but we get free ice cream at the end. No cameras (even cellphones) are allowed on the tour - trade secrets and such.

From wikipedia:
The Brenham Creamery Company opened for business in 1907 to purchase excess cream from local dairy farmers and sell butter to people in the Brenham, Texas, area. Beginning in 1911, the creamery began to also produce small quantities of ice cream. By 1919, the creamery was in financial trouble and considered closing its doors. The board of directors hired E.F. Kruse, a 23-year-old former schoolteacher, to take over the company on April 1, 1919. Kruse refused to accept a salary for his first few months in the position so that the company would not be placed in further debt. Under his leadership, the company expanded its production of ice cream to the local area and soon became profitable. At his suggestion, the company was renamed Blue Bell Creameries in 1930 after the Texas Bluebell, a wildflower that is native to Texas, which, like ice cream, thrives in summer. Until 1936, the creamery made ice cream by the batch. It could create a 10 gallon batch of ice cream every 20 minutes. In 1936 the company purchased its first continuous ice cream freezer, which could make 80 gallons of ice cream per hour.

We found it to be well worth the visit. The employees are happy and excited to talk about ice cream with you and are very knowledgeable. The parlour has about fifty flavors of ice cream and I am sure these rotate seasonally but there are many that are regional to certain areas like Rocky Mountain Road and limited release like Peach Cobbler.   

Pictured: Strawberry cheesecake and Krazy kookie dough. Eaten: Rocky Mountain road and Peach cobbler.
If you don't take the tour, or just want seconds, a large scoop is $1. Can't beat that. I discovered a flavor I've never tried before, Krazy Kookie Dough, which was awesome. It's a bit scary at first with brightly colored pieces, lots of food coloring I am sure. But the ice cream is cake batter and the cookie dough is sugar cookie, how can that not be amazing? I wish they just made the cake batter ice cream, I would eat way too much of it!

Blue Bell butterfly
One last thing to note. As we were heading down to Austin we took a wrong turn and ended up in Mason, Texas. I know there are some exposures of igneous rock in this region, but I had no idea that Mason is the type locality for Texas Topaz, the state gemstone. We also learned that for around $15 a day you can go to one of several ranches around town in non-deer season months and search for the stones in the local stream beds. This sounds like a LOT of fun and we are already planning a trip, maybe in March of next year!

"Milking" the cow