Blue Bell Ice Cream arrives in Richmond, Va.
BRENHAM - Virginia residents will soon get their first taste of “the best ice cream in the country,” Blue Bell Ice Cream from the little town of Brenham, Texas. Blue Bell is the number-three selling branded ice cream in the U.S.—despite the fact that it is only sold in parts of 20 states--because the ice cream is so popular in the markets where it is available.
Blue Bell will be establishing a “branch” or distribution center with warehouse/office space, cold storage facilities and loading docks in Richmond, and a smaller distribution facility or “transfer station” in Suffolk. For the time being, the Blue Bell branch will operate in leased space at 5733 South Laburnum in Richmond and the transfer station will be located at 1982 Northgate Commerce Parkway in Suffolk.
From the new branch and transfer station, Blue Bell will serve markets within a 70-mile radius of Richmond with a total population of nearly two and a half million, including Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Portsmouth, Newport News, Chesapeake, and Hampton. The Richmond branch will have a staff of 15 to 20 employees, including driver salesmen, merchandisers, territory managers and office staff. The Suffolk transfer station will have a staff of eight to ten employees.
Mark Fancher will be branch manager for Blue Bell in Richmond, coming from a position as sales manager for Blue Bell in Knoxville. Heath Stallings will serve as sales manager for the Suffolk transfer station.
Blue Bell will be sold in the beginning at Walmart, Kroger, Walgreen’s, and Farm Fresh, and in other chain and independent grocery stores, drugstores and convenience stores. Blue Bell Ice Cream is also featured at all Carrabba’s and Outback Steakhouse restaurants.
Blue Bell Ice Cream has inspired an enviable loyalty among its millions of devoted fans. Astronauts have carried Blue Bell Ice Cream into space three times. Both presidents Bush had Blue Bell shipped from Texas to the White House and Kennebunkport. President George W. Bush frequently served Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla to foreign dignitaries visiting his Crawford ranch.
Blue Bell Ice Cream, Light Ice Cream, Sherbet, Frozen Yogurt, No Sugar Added Blue Bell, Blue Bell Frozen Snacks and all other products in a 250-product lineup will be distributed directly to supermarkets and food stores in Virginia in Blue Bell trucks. Blue Bell’s direct store delivery program means that no one other than a Blue Bell employee handles the product from the time it is made until it reaches the grocery shelf. This is one of the ways that Blue Bell ensures that consumers get the freshest possible ice cream.
According to ACNielsen SCANTRACK data for the 52-week period ending August 4, 2012, Blue Bell currently holds a 61% market share of ice cream sold in supermarkets in Houston, 60% in Dallas/Fort Worth, 62% in New Orleans/Mobile, 43% in Oklahoma City/Tulsa and 38% in Birmingham.
Ricky Dickson, vice president of sales and marketing for Blue Bell comments, "Blue Bell Ice Cream has had an enthusiastic reception across the South, Southwest and Midwest. After many requests from consumers and grocery store managers, we are delighted to bring Blue Bell to Virginia.”
Blue Bell Creameries, known as "the Little Creamery in Brenham," to ice cream lovers, was founded as The Brenham Creamery Company in 1907 in Brenham, Texas, a town of 13,000, located 70 miles northwest of Houston in the rolling hills of Central Texas.
The Creamery was originally founded to make butter from the excess cream marketed by local farmers, but ice cream was added to the product line in 1911. At that time, the Creamery produced two gallons of ice cream a day, hand-cranked in a wooden tub filled with ice. In 1930, the name of the company was changed to "Blue Bell," after the favorite Texas wildflower of the company's manager. Butter was produced until 1958 when Blue Bell began to focus fulltime on making "the best ice cream in the country."
Every year Blue Bell produces five to six brand new flavors, in addition to a roster of 18 standard flavors that are available year round and dozens of recurring seasonal flavors. In March, the new flavor, never before produced, will be Lemon Bliss Ice Cream, a lemon ice cream combined with pieces of vanilla crème-filled cookies.
Blue Bell has introduced many innovative products over the years, including the original "Cookies 'n Cream," but the most popular flavor of Blue Bell Ice Cream, year after year, is plain and simple Homemade Vanilla, created in 1969, which, fans say, tastes remarkably like the hand-cranked ice cream folks used to make on the porch during long summer evenings.