This is the picture of pure joy. And this is how my toddler and I felt when we heard that Blue Bell Ice Cream was hitting the shelves again after a sorrowful two-year hiatus (Blue Bell was unexpectedly pulled from retail shelves practically overnight in 2015 due to the listeriosis-related recall).
I have plenty of weaknesses – but gluttony is not one of them. Although I am convinced that God gave us Blue Bell rocky road ice cream so that we can experience just a glimpse of heaven this side of eternity.
Blue Bell began as a cream distributor in 1907 in Brenham, Texas and expanded to ice cream in 1911. By 2015, the company grew to 50 sales and distribution centers and three manufacturing facilities. Prior to April 2015, Blue Bell employed 2,800 employees and enjoyed annual sales above $400 million. According to some reports, in 2014, Blue Bell was the best-selling ice cream brand in the United States. Former President George W. Bush often had the ice cream shipped to Camp David during his administration. And on two separate space missions, astronauts aboard the Intentional Space Station were treated to Blue Bell ice cream “to help out (the crew’s) happiness quotient.”
In 2015 – after 108 years of successful operations and not a single recall – Blue Bell’s ice cream production came to a screeching halt and the ice cream manufacturer destroyed over eight million gallons of ice cream. The recall was issued due to several allegations of listeriosis in Kansas. Following the allegations, Blue Bell launched an investigation and sampling of its facilities which confirmed several positive tests for Listeria. As a result, in April 2015, Blue Bell took extreme precautionary measures and recalled all its products and shut down production and operations at its manufacturing and distributions facilities. It also laid off and furloughed most of its employees. As a result, in April 2015, Blue Bell discontinued production and delivery of its ice cream to most of its markets.
The recalls were so severe that they threatened to end the 108-year-old company. Blue Bell executives warned their shareholders that the company faced a “capital crises.” But with their backs to the wall, Blue Bell’s leadership team refused to give up. And on July 14, 2015, their prayers were answers: a prominent Texas investor stepped up and invested $125 million so that Blue Bell could continue to deliver happiness to American families. Around this same time, Blue Bell resumed operations at its Alabama plant and it announced its plans to resurrect production and distribution at its other plants around the country. By April 2017, Blue Bell ice cream was back on the shelves in thousands of stores across America.
Just twenty-four months ago, Blue Bell was on the eve of extinction. Yet once again, the closely held company anticipates hundreds of millions in revenues, and our freezers are filled with heaven. So the next time that you are feeling defeated, hopeless, or down on your luck – just remember this picture of pure joy and the story of Blue Bell ice cream and the American dream.
Christopher J. Charles is passionate about his faith, family, ice cream, real estate, and the law. If you or someone you know has legal questions regarding real estate, please contact Mr. Charles to schedule a call or consultation.