Texans are having a cow over the statewide favorite ice cream brand Blue Bell making a list of the top worst ice creams in the nation. New York-based journalist Steven John of Eat This, Not That ranks Blue Bell ninth out of nine places on his list.
A closer look at the article reveals that John is not basing his list on taste, or consumer opinion, but on the ingredient list. According to John, many of the store-bought brands are not made with basic ice cream ingredients but are full of gums, corn syrups, colorants, and other additives. “How about just regular milk, cream, and sugar?” he asks under the Blue Bell listing.
Frustratingly, John does not give a list of recommended ice creams to eat instead, and a precursory look at other name brands isn’t helpful. Ben and Jerry’s, Breyer’s, Dreyer's, Tillamook and even HaloTop all have ingredient lists full of preservatives, gums, carrageenan and colorants, too. Only Haagen-Dazs seems to have a minimal ingredient list out of the dozens of name brands on store shelves and meets John’s wish for “only milk, cream, and sugar.”
John seems to be convinced that out of the massive list of grocery ice cream treats Blue Bell is one of the biggest ingredient list offenders. The inclusion of the beloved brand is sure to make headlines — mass media that targets Texan brands is sure to. For example, when YouTube comedian and Try Guys founding member Keith Habersberger reviewed Whataburger as part of his Eat the Menu series, Texans took to Twitter to air out their grievances about their beloved orange-and-white bedecked burger chain.
The coverage over Blue Bell has not held back on this latest attack on Texan brands: Timothy Fanning of San Antonio Express-News criticizes John for his misuse of a Mashed survey, writing, “For those counting, 19.74 percent of 618 people is 122, not a majority, as cited by John.” Fanning continues to point out that Mashed acknowledges that a more negative view of the Blue Bell brand was probably because of the 2015 listeria outbreak that pulled Blue Bell from shelves for months and resulted in criminal charges against former Blue Bell president Paul Kruse, who faces those charges later this month in an Austin trial.
Already, magazines and news outlets from Houston to Dallas have released videos and articles covering John’s article, and several outlets have taken to Twitter. KHOU 11 Houston tweeted their take, adding, “Whatever,” and an eyeball roll emoji. Even Texas’ Eighth District U.S. Congressman Kevin Brady retweeted the article, tagging the publication saying, “You obviously haven’t tasted Blue Bell ice cream … Best in TX … and the world.”
While it is true that Blue Bell doesn’t have the most “healthy” or consumer-friendly ingredient list, as of 2021 they are ranked number three in annual revenue and take a whopping 52% share of the ice cream market in Texas alone. In the same study by job site Zippia, author Chris Kolmar writes, “Although Blue Bell isn’t the largest ice cream company in the country, it far outsells the competition in every state in which it operates.”
Safe to say that the opinion of a New York food writer won’t sway Texans or national opinion for that matter. Despite the “low quality” ingredients, consumers are still going to buy it for its high-quality taste and a cult-like following in this grand state the dairy company proudly calls home.
In case you missed it, here is Local Profile's list of ten essential ice cream shops in Collin County.