This is not my favorite time of the year to eat Blue Bell ice cream. As summer approaches, out go the rich, chocolaty, mix-in filled flavors and in come the light, fruity flavors. I'd rather eat I ♥ Chocolate all year long rather than something like Summer Berries during the hot months but I bet Blue Bell knows their market better than I do. Hence the arrival of their newest flavor, Red, White and Blue Bell, which Blue Bell describes as strawberry flavored ice cream with strawberries, vanilla flavored ice cream, and blueberry ice cream with blueberries. Quite honestly, I was not overly excited when I read the Ice Cream Informant's announcement of this new flavor and I bought it more out of a sense of obligation to try anything new, but sometimes you get a pleasant surprise!
Popping open the lid, we see that the container is divided into three roughly equal pie-shaped areas corresponding to the three advertised flavors. Trying each in turn, I found the vanilla ice cream to be the least satisfying. The label describes this as "vanilla flavored ice cream" not "vanilla ice cream" and this difference appears to be not merely semantic. I love Blue Bell's usual vanilla ice cream base, but this seems to be lighter, not as creamy. Maybe the description made me mentally predisposed to think it wouldn't taste as good, but it didn't. However, the blueberry and strawberry portions were better than I anticipated. One big worry I had was that both contained actual fruit pieces, and historically, the weakest aspect of Blue Bell ice cream has been fruit pieces, because in other flavors they are usually frozen solid and taste more like popsicle chunks rather than fruit. Not so here! The strawberry chunks (some very big and substantial) were not melted and tasted fresh, as were the smaller blueberry pieces. I did let this ice cream melt for a while before I ate it so maybe these pieces were originally frozen, but when I ate them they definitely were not and the flavor was excellent. Also, the blueberry ice cream in particular had a creamy texture and tasted quite good. Finally, when tasted together, I found that the three flavors blended quite nicely into a refreshing fruity concoction.
Still, Red, White and Blue Bell (RWBB) lacks the candy mix-ins I crave, and it tastes like the 150-calories per serving flavor it is, lacking the richness of the best Blue Bell flavors. I just had a tub of Caramel Turtle Cheesecake the other day and couldn't help but compare RWBB unfavorably to it, the former is so much richer for your money. But, summer is fruit pie-eating and cobbler season and I imagine this flavor would do splendidly melting over a slice of apple or cherry pie, or as an accompaniment to birthday cake. And if your tastes in ice cream are more inclined to fruit, you'd probably grade it a point higher.
Where Steve Found It: Winn Dixie
Steve's Grade: C