Blue Bell Creameries Originally Didn't Even Sell Ice Cream

What if Ben and Jerry never got together? What if two Polish immigrants from the Bronx never decided to make up the name Häagen-Dazs? It's truly hard to imagine an ice cream market in which these brands never came to be. But did you know Blue Bell, another one of the top ice cream producers in the U.S., used to not sell the stuff at all?


Yes, in fact, when the company first came together it was strictly focused on making butter using excess cream from local farmers. Blue Bell began as the Brenham Creamery Company, founded by a group of local Texas businessmen in 1907. It did not start making or selling ice cream until 1911.

Ice cream didn't become the company's main focus until decades later. Eventually, the Brenham Creamery Company became the Blue Bell Creameries we know today, but that was not without some major business decisions along the way.

How Blue Bell started making ice cream

The Brenham Creamery Company started off as a cooperative with the goal of putting excess cream to good use by producing butter made with sour cream. The idea to start making ice cream came from the creamery's manager at the time, H. C. Hodde, who wanted to find a use for sweet cream.


When ice cream production first started in 1911, it was made arduously using a hand crank that would yield two gallons of ice cream at a time. The ice cream was then delivered by horse and buggy and had to be eaten quite quickly before it melted. Despite the strenuous manufacturing and delivery method, the ice cream was a big hit among customers.

From there, Brenham Creamery Company leadership decided to invest in equipment to make ice cream and the company was able to churn out 6,000 gallons of the cold treat just one year later. The years following this were tough times financially, but the brand found its stride after hiring manager E.F. Kruse in 1919.

How Blue Bell became Blue Bell

In 1930, Kruse renamed the Brenham Creamery Company to Blue Bell Creameries after the Texas wildflower of the same name. Blue Bell continued to sell butter until 1958 when it shifted focus to its ice cream products completely.


Innovations in at-home freezer technology and ice cream manufacturing allowed Blue Bell to experiment and grow its product line throughout the '50s and '60s. By 1962, Blue Bell had generated $1 million in gross revenue and by 1979 was producing 10 million gallons of ice cream per year. Those production numbers doubled by 1982.

While Blue Bell was first established in Texas, the ice cream brand has since expanded to become the belle of the South with plants in Alabama and Oklahoma. Nowadays, Blue Bell ice cream products can be found in grocery stores across the Southern half of the U.S., from Virginia to Arizona. And to think this massive legacy started with a little extra cream and some hand-powered machinery.