Blue Bell's set to return to shelves after the listeria outbreak.
If you’re one of those Texans who loves Blue Bell (and really, is there any other kind of Texan?), today’s a good day.
The embattled local ice cream is set to return to store shelves on August 31, ending the long Blue Bell-less summer. The 108-year-old Brenham-based company made its “I’m back” announcement today in a very 2015 way (though thankfully Arnold Schwarzenegger was not involved), posting a video on its company website.
This return is a limited rollout. With Blue Bell ice cream production currently confined to a single Alabama plant in the wake of the listeria outbreak, it will be sold only in stores in Brenham, Houston, Austin and two Alabama cities (Birmingham and Montgomery).
This is the first phase of a plan that calls for Blue Bell to return to 15 states. It’s not quite one scoop at a time, but it’s hardly full-bore production, either.
“Over the past several months, we have been working to make our facilities even better and to ensure that everything we produce is safe, wholesome and of the highest quality for you to enjoy,” Blue Bell’s vice president of marketing Ricky Dickson says in the video.
This is a vital first major step back for Texas’ iconic ice cream. Blue Bell teetered on the brink of collapse before Fort Worth billionaire Sid Bass swooped in and invested $125 million in the company. After Blue Bell ice cream was linked to listeria cases in 10 states, including three deaths in Kansas, it halted all production and pulled its products from stores shelves. More than 1,400 Blue Bell workers were laid off and documents indicate that the company could not have survived without the infusion of cash from Bass.
Blue Bell’s set up an “ice cream locator” on its website so that anxious fans can see which stores it has returned to once August 31 arrives. Having a cult-like following comes with its privileges.
While the return announcement itself may seem sort of sudden (getting dropped in a website video), Blue Bell fanatics have been breathlessly anticipating the news for a while. Bass’ investment a few weeks ago and word that the Alabama Department of Public Health had given its all-clear for production to resume at that state’s plant last week provided plenty of hope.
Now, there’s actual ice cream on the way.