Blue Bell Homemade™ Vanilla celebrates 50th anniversary
Blue Bell Ice Cream offers many great-tasting flavors, but one has remained at the top of the list with fans for 50 years. Homemade Vanilla, with its distinct hand-cranked taste, made its debut in stores in 1969 and is one of the most popular flavors of ice cream in the country.
Homemade Vanilla was developed by Howard Kruse, retired Blue Bell CEO and president. He was determined to create an ice cream that tasted like what you made at home on the back porch during the summer, with all of the kids taking turns at the crank. It was no easy task. Kruse worked alongside the company’s research and development staff for more than a year until he found the perfect recipe that captured the exact homemade taste.
“Once we had our Homemade Vanilla,” said Kruse, “the big question was, would the consumer like the flavor? We didn’t know if ice cream fans were ready to accept something that tasted homemade and not like the supermarket ice creams that were popular at the time.”
Kruse was so unsure of the flavor that he only ordered a minimum run of 5,000 cartons of Homemade Vanilla. “The first batch of customers was used as a very large focus group,” he said. “The comments were universally positive. People loved Homemade Vanilla and still do today.”
With an ice cream that successful, Blue Bell eventually began offering it in varieties. Today you can purchase Peaches & Homemade Vanilla™, Strawberries & Homemade Vanilla™ and The Great Divide®. But, if you prefer the original, you have your choice of the half gallon, pint or 3 oz. cup size.
The flavor is so popular Blue Bell even sells items featuring Homemade Vanilla in its gift shop, including t-shirts, coffee mugs, koozies, charms and magnets. Homemade Vanilla is the star in many Blue Bell television commercials. And, you could say it is the most recognized symbol of the company behind its cow and girl logo.
This year, Blue Bell will sell millions of cartons filled with the flavor. The exact formula for Homemade Vanilla is still a closely guarded Blue Bell secret. Many other ice cream companies have followed with their own version. But, Blue Bell will always be the first company to ever successfully mass produce a homemade style ice cream.
“We still receive letters from consumers who say our Homemade Vanilla reminds them of the ice cream they cranked out as kids,” said Ricky Dickson, Blue Bell CEO and president. “It is heartwarming to know, after 50 years, our ice cream can still capture that feeling Mr. Kruse set out to create.”