Thursday, April 06, 2017

Blue Bunny / Blue Ribbon Classics Ice Cream

Blue Bunny, and Blue Ribbon Classics, are two ice cream/frozen novelty lines owed by Wells Enterprises.  Wells is the largest family-owned ice cream manufacturer in the US, and third largest US producer (after the NestlĂ© and Unilever conglomerates).  They have a few other product lines as well, including Bomb Pop popsicles, but, the ice cream was certainly the item that caught my eye.

The story goes that they started in 1925 by Fred. H. Wells Jr, a milk route operator, who started making ice cream, but was then bought out 3 years later.  But 7 years after that, he tried again, and let the product get named through a "Name That Ice Cream" contest (so says Wikipedia ...  The more you know!) Anyway, many other family members came along, took over, expanded production, etc, etc.  It was still mostly regional until 1992 when they started expanding nationally, and well, the rest is history?

Now they make a large array of ice cream flavors and treats.  Unlike many "frozen novelties", even the novelty items are made with actual ice cream, not frozen dairy products.  Blue Bunny is the flagship line, and Blue Ribbon Classics is the lower end.  I've tried products from both lines, and, I assure you, the difference is noticeable.

Blue Bunny

"Blue Bunny, the flagship brand of Wells Enterprises, Inc., includes a delicious variety of ice cream, frozen desserts, and frozen novelties, Wells is proud to produce, market, and sell Blue Bunny branded products across the United States in places like your grocer's freezer, your favorite restaurant, your corner convenience store, on ice cream trucks and in event venues. Today more than 400 ice cream treats are produced under the Blue Bunny brand name."
Blue Bunny makes a lot of ice cream products, as, in, >400.  They offer a wide assortment of flavors of ice cream sold in tubs, pints, and personal cups, with fun names, like "Peanut Butter Party" rather than just "Peanut Butter Cup", and also have frozen yogurt, low-fat, and lower sugar options.

The line of novelties is particularly impressive, ranging from a large variety of packaged ice cream cones, ice cream bars, ice cream sandwiches, all sorts of branded items with gumball eyes (Batman, Tweety, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Powerfuff Girls, Pink Panther, Minions, Bugs Bunny, Bratz), and "Bunny Snacks", which are chocolate coated ice cream bites in a bunch of flavors.

I was only able to try one type of novelty, but, I enjoyed it far more than comparable products from competitors.

Chips Galore! Sandwich.
"Creamy vanilla flavored ice cream layered between two chocolate chip cookies rolled in mini chocolate chips."

Since I don't really like cookies, I can't say that I was very excited about an ice cream sandwich.  An improvement on just a cookie, for sure, but, not really my dessert nor ice cream of choice.

However, I was visiting another Google office, and they had an ice cream freezer, with rather meager offerings.  This was the best of the bunch, so, I went for it.

My first bite confirmed what I expected.  It wasn't great.  The cookies were soggy, and certainly nothing like homemade.  They were like large size Chips Ahoy.  The ice cream wasn't particularly creamy, nor vanilla-y.  Even when I let it melt, it never got particularly creamy.

But as I ate more, I did like the plentiful little chocolate chips around the outside though, and quickly set about licking all the little chips off.  And then biting a little cookie off.  And them more ice cream.  Before I knew it, I had finished nearly the entire thing, a bit remarkable given its size and the fact that I didn't actually like it very much.

This was a case of the whole being greater than sum of the parts.  Were the cookies good?  No.  Was the ice cream good?  No.  But somehow, it all worked together.

I wouldn't rush out to get another, but, I did enjoy it.

Update: A year or so later, when visiting the same office, I had another.  I think I liked it even more, and this time, the ice cream did seem to melt a bit more nicely.  Now, I'd gladly get another!

Blue Ribbon Classics

"Wells turns everyday moments into special celebrations with the classic flavors, generous offerings, and surprising value of Blue Ribbon Classics.
Made for family and fun, it’s the ice cream that appeals to everyone."
The lower end line made by Wells is "Blue Ribbon Classics".  They too offer ice cream/frozen yogurt/sherbet in tubs, ice cream cones and bars, and popsicles, but have only about 50 products total, and represent more, well, "classics".  No bubble gum eyes, or co-branding, here.

I tried several of these as well, and, it was clear the ice cream quality was lower than Blue Bunny.
Ice Cream Freezer!
Yes, I was of course visiting another office, and found another ice cream freezer.

The first few days I went for the high end Three Twins items, but, eventually, I decided to try the Blue Ribbon classics, mostly for research sake.
Orange Dream Bar.
"Vanilla flavored reduced fat ice cream in an orange sherbet shell. It's a dream!"

One day, I wanted something less decadent.  In full disclosure, this is because I stumbled upon the ice cream freezer after already having soft serve ice cream at lunch.  And uh, a second soft serve sundae a little later.  So I didn't want to go all out and get another huge ice cream.  Hence, the reasonable choice, the Orange Dream Bar.

Reduced fat ice cream and sherbet made this a pretty light offering, only 90 calories for the bar.  But, they also made it just not very interesting.  The orange sherbet was pretty icy and a very thick layer, and the ice cream wasn't very creamy.

I guess if you like a classic orange creamsicle this was fine, but, I really wanted it to be more like a Pine-Lime Splice, the only "lighter" ice cream novelty I really ever enjoy ...

[ No Photo ]
Sundae Cone.

"Creamy vanilla flavored reduced fat ice cream dipped in chocolate flavored coating, topped with peanuts and cone pieces, all inside a crunchy sugar cone. One for everyone!"

Not sure where my photo went of this one, but, there isn't much to say.  It was a pretty standard packaged sundae cone.  No better nor worse than any other.

Update review (June 2017): I had another, at a company picnic.  It was ... well, what it was.  The ice cream was better than average ice cream novelties actually, but wasn't particularly good.  The cone was a generic sugar cone, but at least it wasn't soggy.  The chocolate coating was good, but the nuts actually had a hint of staleness to them.  So, better than average I suppose, but still just a packaged sundae cone.

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