Move over movie theaters and video games retailers. Blue Bell ice cream is now king. Hundreds of shoppers stood in lines early Monday morning for the opportunity to purchase the traditional indulgence at various stores throughout central Texas.
H-E-B Food/Drugs stores in the Austin area, including San Marcos, Bastrop and Brenham, experienced sellouts of Bluebell products within a few hours of opening their stores. The first loads of ice cream began arriving as early as 3 a.m. at some H-E-B stores. By morning, their Brenham location had sold out of 1100 gallons.
“Texans can rejoice today as Blue Bell ice cream makes its long-awaited comeback in freezer aisles across the state,” said Governor Greg Abbott, while enjoying a taste. “Generations of families have enjoyed Blue Bell as a traditional Texas treat, and their production facilities have played an integral economic role in local communities across the Lone Star State. On behalf of all Texans, I want to welcome Blue Bell back and wish them luck as they continue to ramp up production.”
HEB says more is on the way, but they are temporarily restricting each shopper to a maximum of four Blue Bell products to “ensure more customers can receive this Texas favorite” with a phasing out of more deliveries across the state in phases. They are starting out with four flavors: Homemade Vanilla, Dutch Chocolate, Cookies and Cream, and The Great Divide.
Blue Bell Creameries recalled all of its products due to an outbreak of listeria bacteria at its production facilities in Brenham on April 20. With rigorous food safety processes now in place at its Sylacauge, Ala. facilities, Blue Bell products are incrementally rolling out company spokesperson Joe Robertson said.
“We are starting small,” Robertson said. “Blue Bell plans to ship ice cream to a limited number of markets. We only have one production facility up and running in Alabama. Inventory is very limited and this, in turn, limits where we can distribute the product.”
The rollout is being conducted in five phases, with Houston and Austin areas first. Not only is the news good for consumers, employees of Blue Bell are excited after experiencing the first large layoff in their 108-year history.
“We laid off approximately 750 full-time employees and 700 part-time employees as well as putting 1,400 employees on furlough until business was able to resume,” Robertson said. About 350 furloughed employees have returned to work as production increases.
Since ice cream is only being produced at its Sylcacauga, Ala. plant, Blue Bell began Monday with deliveries to Alabama and parts of Texas. They plan to re-enter parts of 15 states within the next few months.