In the Spring of 2015, Blue Bell closed production and recalled all of its products from stores. The Southern staple remained entirely absent for the following few months, and many were concerned about the possible permanent shutdown of the Texas company. It had been around for just over 100 years (founded 1907, I believe), and was a prominent fixture in the lives of moth Southerners. We felt a personal hit by the closure – even those of us who rarely even ate the ice cream anymore – and we all felt the risk of losing a whole piece of ourselves, should the company shut down permanently.
However, on August 31, the first phase of redistribution began, and Houston was graced once again with those beautiful tubs of ice cream on its grocery shelves. Once things calmed a bit, and it was again an accessible commodity – though the ice cream sandwiches took another few years to return to grocers (April of 2019!!) -, a friend of mine decided to throw a party. She especially was beside herself with joy at the return of Blue Bell. So, we all gathered somewhat spontaneously at her house one Saturday evening to revel in the delights of ice cream.
Of course, ice cream doesn’t exactly make for the greatest of meals. However, such forethought is not exactly one of this particular friend’s fortés. Therefore, amidst the indulgences of ice cream and happy conversations, it was determined that pizza would be the easiest solution, mid-party. So, we ordered some pizzas to go with our Blue Bell. Thus began our yearly celebrations of what we unintentionally called for years “Blue Bell and Ice Cream”, but technically had named “Blue Bell and Pizza”. (Now I remember what we named it, and know that we accidentally said it wrong for years without noticing. However, I prefer our Freudian initial naming, and so still use it most of the time.)
Alas, tonight was our yearly celebration, and so I, once again, had my yearly serving of Blue Bell Cookies ‘N’ Cream, and had some fancy schmancy pizza that was gluten-free yet delicious. (Naturally, I feel terrible compared to how I typically feel on any given day. However, it’s only once a year, so I don’t mind it too much. Especially when it means I get to dive into my historical regional identity for a bit, and also reminisce on some great parts of my childhood.)
So, Happy Blue Bell and Ice Cream, folks! Seven years strong, and we finally have real ice cream sandwiches again! (Seriously, if I’d gotten a box of those, I’d have eaten almost the whole thing myself. And I only say almost, because I know my mom would have demanded at least a couple for herself. Those things are spectacular, and slightly addicting. No joke, either.)