Over the first weekend of spring break, we went to the beach in Port Lavaca (off Lavaca Bay on the Gulf of Mexico) with my sister- and brother-in-law and some of their friends for a little bit of down time after Matt's defense. I only have group photos because I didn't feel like taking pictures while we were at the beach house; I was busy eating, and drinking, and reading, and napping, and playing games, because it was cold and rainy so we didn't actually spend much time on the beach.
I convinced Matt that on the way back home, we should stop by the Blue Bell factory to take a tour. The logic being that we don't know if we are going to be moving out of state or not, and therefore needed to make sure this happened, just in case. We had attempted to go on a tour during spring break … four years ago … and hadn't gone back since, so it definitely was overdue.
On the way back to College Station, we detoured through Brenham, and followed the signs to the creamery! Brenham is only about an hour away from College Station, so we are ashamed it took us this long to go back.
(I didn't realize until we got there that Blue Bell is actually two words, and I have been writing it as one for years, and that's semi-embarrassing.)
You can't see it, but the towers are labeled things like, "Fresh Milk" and "Ice Cream Mix."
It was pretty crowded, and we had to wait a little while for our tour, but we each got a ticket for a scoop of ice cream with the tour ticket (which was $6 apiece), so while we waited, we browsed the mini museum areas and went up to the parlor to get our scoops.
I got one of the new flavors, Sea Salt Caramel, and Matt got Mocha Almond Fudge. Because of all the sugar I consumed over the weekend — there was a plethora of cookies and Pop-Tarts and chocolate-covered Ritz crackers at the beach house — I couldn't even eat my whole cup! So Matt took one for the team and finished mine too. :)
I wasn't crazy about Sea Salt Caramel. It tasted good, but it was just vanilla ice cream with caramel swirled in, and Matt and I agreed that the caramel didn't do much for it.
The sample display case at the parlor. In which I discovered yet another new flavor I hadn't heard of: Creole Cream Cheese.
After a little bit of wandering around, we got some hats and got in line for the tour! You don't actually need the hats for the tour, since you're mostly behind glass and don't go down into the food-making parts, but I didn't know that and didn't care either. :)
No photos allowed while on the tour, but it was neat seeing all the machines filling tubs of ice cream, and how they make all their little mini cones — more than a hundred of them every minute! The day we went, they were making Caramel Turtle Cheesecake half gallons (they said it was supposed to be a limited edition flavor, but it won some type of contest so they brought it back; personally, it wasn't my favorite) and Orange Swirl pints (which I do enjoy). Once the ice cream is put into the tubs, they're packaged and flipped upside down, and put into a really cold flash-freezer for less than a minute to get the lid to suction on like it does when you open it at home.
The creamery's original tagline was "We eat all we can and sell the rest," and the tour guide said that the employees still get to eat as much ice cream as they want while they're at work! He said they'll go up to the parlor for samples after the tours, and that the break rooms have freezers in them with more ice cream! What an awesome job. I would gain six hundred pounds working there, I'm sure.
One of my favorite "ads" on the wall in the museum. You'd think they'd look happier about the ice cream, though.
I'm glad we finally got the chance to go! I thought it was a fun tour and if you're ever in central Texas, definitely worth the time. (They only do tours on weekdays, since the creamery is closed on weekends. Otherwise I'm sure we would have made it back before now!)
Have you done any cool tours lately? What is your favorite ice cream flavor?