The desirability of ice cream in early March depends a lot on where people live. In a subtropical climate, residents in Las Vegas almost always would want one more scoop. From March 3, they are likely to find that ice cream becomes even more irresistible because Blue Bell ice cream for the first time is available in stores in Las Vegas and nearby towns. The 107-year-old Blue Bell has insisted on using the traditional way of both making ice cream and distributing it. Now Las Vegas gets its first taste of the Blue Bell ice cream and starts to appreciate the charm of the old-fashioned ways.
Blue Bell is the third best-selling ice cream in U.S. after Breyers and Edy’s/Dreyer’s. This is impressive because its sales territory is very small, only 22 states before this March, in comparison with the other top four competitors. Blue Bell achieved this by consistently being the top seller in most of its sales markets. Texas Bluebell, a wildflower native to Texas, was the inspiration for its name. Its original name was Brenham Creamery Company when it started selling butter in 1907. When the company began to sell ice cream in 1911, it was hard to sell the couple of gallons because everyone made their own. Kruse family took over the company in 1919, leading it out of financial troubles, and has had the ownership of the company since then.
Blue Bell sticks with the traditional way not only in using high quality ingredients, which is claimed by many companies, but also in controlling the whole chain of distribution. It has been using a unique program called Direct Store Delivery— their own delivery trucks visiting each store and their employees stocking every freezer in the store. The special handling is critical because the ice cream will melt when being subjected to temperature warmer than minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit, and refreeze later, creating the unpleasant icy texture. Such delivery method demands building distribution facilities to connect the production facilities to the sales markets and building a local team to strictly uphold the product quality. These take times and explain the slow expansion of Blue Bell.
Las Vegas residents are likely to be delighted, as residents in other sales markets, to find the taste of the old-fashioned Blue Bell ice cream is worth the long wait. Also considered a traditional way, Blue Bell uses a lumber supplier to build shipping pallets themselves and reuses shipping cardboard boxes at production facilities. Such traditional ways are increasingly viewed as trendy in the current green-conscious economy.
Besides being famous for seasonal flavors and popular southern flavors, Blue Bell also creates unique flavors for some markets, such as the Rocky Mountain Road ice cream for Colorado market. Blue Bell is yet to create Las Vegas specific flavors. Some people joked about Poker Chip N’ Mint and Red Velvet Roulette. These flavors may come true if the customers are vocal enough, just as the expansions into new markets are influenced by demands from customers and grocery store managers. It may take a while though before Las Vegas residents can get bored with the 60 plus flavors crafted in the old-fashioned way of Blue Bell.
Opinion by Tina Zhang