Summers in Texas are miserable,
That’s no exaggeration. Just miserable. Daytime temps hover just over 100 degrees for about 2 months straight. There’s not much rain too cool it down either. Or wind, or even shady trees to hide under. Everything that was lush and green in the end of May has burned to a dry, brown crisp by early July.
The evenings can bring a little relief when the sun slowly sets and it slips into the 90’s.
When my brothers and I were kids, the summer evenings were when my family would head into town for ice cream. My mother would pile all of us into her car, and with the windows rolled down (because that was always more fun than air conditioning) she’d take us to the downtown Dairy-ette for ice cream. The Dairy-ette was a hold-over from the 1960’s and actually not far from the Piggly Wiggly. Yepp, my town actually had a Piggly Wiggly. They’re both long-gone now. The Dairy-ette had a long lunch counter inside, and a drive-thru, but we always parked and walked to the outside window to order. My brothers and I would choose one of our favorites; Home-made Vanilla, Bubble Gum, Mint Chocolate Chip or Cookies and Cream…..then plop down on one of the picnic tables in front to lap at our cones and listen to the cicadas sing at each other.
…..and just like that, the Texas summer wasn’t so miserable anymore.
The Dairy-ette served Blue Bell Ice Cream.
Sign behind the cash register said it was the only ice cream they had ever served.
Blue Bell Creameries, named after the wildflower that flourishes along Texas highways, was founded in the small Texas town of Brenham in 1907. With the cream sourced from local dairy farmers, they started producing ice cream but only sold it locally until the 1960’s when the company expanded distribution to include Houston, Austin and, eventually, Dallas. The Blue Bell Company has been slow to expand, and they’re just fine with that. In fact, it wasn’t until 1989 that Oklahoma residents even had access to the creamy goodness.
When I went to Texas Tech in the late 80’s, Lubbock was one of those towns without Blue Bell Ice Cream. Good thing I came home for the summers.
Blue Bell truck drivers stock the store freezers themselves, an almost unheard of practice anymore outside of beer and soda, to assure their product is presented in the perfect way.
Blue Bell is the only major ice cream company to still produce a true half-gallon size.
President Bush had Blue Bell ice cream shipped to Camp David.
Blue Bell commercials usually featured happy cows and milk maids singing harmonies together, “Blue Bell’s the best ice cream in the country.” In fact, they would often cast non-actors in the adds. To audition for these commercials, Texans would make videos of themselves singing the theme song and mail them in to the company. Take a look-see for yourselves, these are just regular people:
Just makes you wanna move to Brenham, Texas. Don’t it?
Well, don’t just yet.
Last spring Blue Bell held a complete recall of all of it’s products – over 8 million gallons – when 5 people contracted listeriosis believed to have come from infected ice cream. The company laid off 37% of their workers, keeping the remaining workers just to assist in the recall/clean-up……and at tremendous wage cuts.
I was pretty certain that it was the end of Blue Bell Ice Cream.
But last summer, Sid Bass, a prominent Texan oil tycoon (seriously), loaned the Blue Bell Company $125 million to reorganize and restart production…..
One Hundred Twenty Five Million……for ice cream.
I’m not 100% positive about this,
but I think Sid Bass used to go to the Dairy-ette too.
….and yeah, it is that good.