Rediscovering Blue Bell Ice Cream, Like A Long Slow Embrace with Ben Affleck

A moment of honesty here, OK? It's the holidays so we're being forgiving and all that, right? I never really liked Blue Bell Ice Cream. I always thought of it as the old man of ice cream, sort of boring and uninventive. I like Ben & Jerry's - blinged-out, glitzy, suffocating, intoxicating, a hot mess of everything that was right (and wrong) in the world.

But, this summer, I (or Blue Bell) crossed a threshold. It started with Key Lime Pie Ice Cream, a dessert that happens to be an all-time favorite. I bought a half-gallon out of obligation (to myself, nostalgia, this blog, the world) and remember the first bite standing in my kitchen. It was amazing. I quickly restricted the kids from eating it (they have their own stuff) and for the entirety of its short life, it was like a siren call from the bottom of my freezer. Mostly I imbibed in just a few spoonfuls at a time. The dialogue in my head was something like: 'I've had such a long day, I deserve this.' When it was gone, emotions were a mix of relief and emptiness.

Cinnamon ice cream with chunks of gingerbread cookies and flecks of candy.
The next time I was at the store and in another life-is-short-we-should-all-eat-more-ice-cream moment I looked for another half-gallon, but Key Lime Pie was gone. So, I settled on another new flavor summer: Summer Strawberry Pie, not (not) to be confused with just regular strawberry (old man) ice cream. Soon there was moment number two in my kitchen. It was better than the Key Lime Pie. The small pieces of piecrust were dense and the large chunks of strawberries were like a picnic on a pretty day.

Then, it just kept happening. I was visiting my parents and asked if they had tried any of the new flavors since they usually have Homemade Vanilla on hand. Nope, they hadn't, and Mom offered, "But, they're having a sell at Brookshires." I went to the store and, sure enough, there was a sale, which meant almost the entire section of Blue Bell was cleaned out. The only flavor left was Southern Blackberry Cobbler that apparently wasn't any good because no one bought it, right? Wrong.

Again, an alley-oop slam-dunk. With a spoonful halfway to her mouth, my mom paused and told me I had to take it home with me because otherwise she'd eat the whole thing. (But, it would have melted, so I couldn't. They ate it.)

Then, at the end of summer, the good folks in Brenham rolled out possibly their best yet: Southern Peach Cobbler. On their website, they claim that they only make it a short time while peaches are in season. I actually believe them.


What is most endearing to me about this entire line of new products from Blue Bell is their approach. They never jumped on a trend. When everyone else started putting everything but the kitchen sink in ice cream, they held steady. They didn't take the bait. Those cows just chewed grass and took naps. Blue Bell added to their line-up at their own pace.

Which brings us to this past (Black) Friday when I discovered their newest concoction. We were making a quick trip to the store, just to return a movie. I had been clear with the kids; "We're not buying anything else because we have a fridge full of leftovers." They agreed. But, at the last minute I decided to buy a Runner's World to negate eating to the point of shame the day before.

On the detour, we walked past the freezer aisle and there she was: Blue Bell Gingerbread House Ice Cream. Instantly defeated, I grabbed a half-gallon. High fives all around. The kids are an easy crowd. Then, in the magazine aisle, the kids saw the latest release from the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. They begged to get it, but I said "No, remember we're just here for ... um ... a couple things."

Then amazingly, they offered a barter: "We'll put the ice cream back for the book. Please, Mom."

And this was the point I officially crossed some line, though not sure which, "No, we're not putting the Blue Bell back for a book."

I started to wince in shame as the words rolled out, but then I just went with it. I'm not into pretence. It is what it is.

I gave in. We got the book. And the magazine. And, of course, the ice cream. It's all about balance.

What's cool about the Gingerbread House ice cream is that it actually tastes like a gingerbread house. Because in reality those things are almost impossible to eat, either from a cleanliness standpoint or the workability of the stale walls and hardened glue.

Here, the ice cream is awash in cinnamon with big chunks of gingerbread cookies. Small marshmallows make an appearance in almost every spoonful. All of that is accented with bits of crunchy green and red candy.

My relationship with Blue Bell is now like that hug Ben Affleck delivered on the porch in one of the last scenes of Argo. (Spoiler alert.) First, to set the stage, Affleck has a scene where he takes his shirt off even though it has nothing to do with the plot. (Tip o' the hat, Affleck, for making that call as director. Thanks all over the place.) So with that in the back of your head, later on Affleck hugs his wife, but it's more like he's falling into her. The weight of the world softly rolls off his shoulders and into her. Then, his large hands spread over her small back and he pulls her in close. It's not a hug. It's a slow fade into redemption. One spoonful at a time. Or shirtless ... no, ice cream. I'm flustered. No matter, this embrace with Blue Bell is a rediscovered commitment.

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J_A_ topcommenter

LDD, I concur about Blue Bell. I never really liked the stuff, mostly because we'd have a tub of it sitting in the freezer for about 8 months at a time. When I wanted some, it'd be covered in ice crystals and I'd have to scrape off the scuzz to get a scoop. Ben & Jerry's on the other hand I'll finish in one sitting.


Wow, foodnerds embracing the greatness of high fructose corn syrup, artificial vanilla flavor, and cellulose gum.  Bizarro COA.  Argofuckyerself!


The Christmas seasonal Peppermint Ice Cream is their best !


Blue Bell's Homemade Vanilla is the only thing allowed to sit next to a slice of apple pie and fork.


 "I never really liked Blue Bell Ice Cream".....what the heck LDD, "is" you a Yankee? Even I know that being a good Texan means having a heaping bowl of BB Cookies and Cream.  Not liking BB is akin to:


-not liking puppies

-not liking burgers and beers on a tailgait

-disliking the Texas Hill country

-NOT liking Willie Nelson

-thinking Gruene Hall is just a building

-Going to ANY part of Padre, and NOT looking for a Ridley's

-Thinking the Balinese is just one of those cheesy souvenir shops

-Going down the River in a speedboat

-Thinking El Capitan is just a rocky hill

-Thinking The Big Bend is more of a clock than a region

-Thinking that Terlingua has a marginal chili festival

TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

I'm not sure that purchasing a running magazine is a valid counterbalance to eating a half-gallon of ice cream.


Blue Bell ice cream is absolute greatness.


Their advertising is horrible and pretty damn close to offensive to anyone living in 2012 without a broken fridge on their front porch, a suspended driver's license, and reliance on disability payments to buy store brand ice cream.

ChrisYu topcommenter

Blue Bell is supposed to remind you of flowers in the field, clean fresh air, the old swimming hole and mama hollerin through the screen. not shirtless Ben Affleck.


The article has been linked on


@cityofate Since you brought it up: Nutty Chocolate is great & Dessert Trio not so much. And there's my ice cream tweet for the decade.



food nerds?  have you ever read this blog?  we are not nerds, but ogre's....sir.

Besides, the sh+t tastes good!





do you live in a prairie schooner? 


ps-Come to think of it, I'd like to swap a loaf of bread for a mountain range.   Never tried Blue Bell........again, do you live in a prairie schooner? 

ScottsMerkin topcommenter

 @kergo1spaceship when I moved from KC 22 yrs ago,my mom bought this blue Bell stuff.  I was 10 but I had never had anything that was as smooth and tasty as that vanilla and chocolate.  While Ive gravitated to to some of the crazy ice creams, (I love Amercone Dream)  There is always a spot for Blue Bell in the Freezer




yes, that is a HORRIBLE ad campaign.....the only ad campaign worse is the Liberty Mutual commercial, with the lady with the tiny, Michelle Wie, shake voice......."what's your policy?"; it's like she can barely get it out before the precious, demanding life is squeezed out of her, rendering useless and dead.





who is  is that the guy that watches sports on his sweater?




he he!  Iff'n this was my wife I'd slap her (playfully) on dat ass, and ask her politely to quit bartering, and whip me up some of "them" flakey" biscuits.  Trade is for Middle eastern hoards, not people that live in the US......but I will trade you some "color" rocks I found in Arkansas for a case of cold Budweiser! 

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