Saturday, September 26, 2015

READER REVIEW: Steve's Review of Blue Bell Cookies 'N Cream

After a several month absence due to the Listeria outbreak, Blue Bell ice cream is back on the shelves, but they are rolling product out slowly. For now, it is only being sold in central Alabama and the Houston area, and only in five flavors. As the ice cream has not yet returned to my south Louisiana domain, a business trip to Houston gave me an opportunity to taste my favorite brand after five long months without. Of the available flavors, Cookies and Cream seemed the most interesting, so I was happy to try out a tub, which I had never had before. Blue Bell claims to have invented this flavor, and describes Cookies and Cream as "creamy vanilla ice cream with tasty chunks of chocolate creme cookies". Of course this is a flavor now made by many ice cream companies, so I was eager to taste how Blue Bell's stacks up. Another goal was to see if there was evidence that Blue Bell's taste or mix-in quality had changed since being reintroduced.

Opening the lid, my first impression was ambivalent: The vanilla ice cream looked rather creamy, and more importantly, there was some evidence of the advertised cookie pieces. However, these pieces seemed to be more like flakes or shavings, rather than the promised "chunks". Since I prefer chunks, this didn't make me happy, though I held out hope that at least they would be tasty. At this point, I was disappointed, because I recalled that when the Ice Cream Informant posted his official review of this flavor, he lauded Blue Bell for providing a generous amount of the cookie mix-ins. Oh well, let's dig below the surface and see if things improve.

Boy do they ever improve! The initial appearance was deceiving, and in a positive way. As my spoon dug below the surface, it didn't take long for it to collide with much larger chocolate cookie chunks, and plenty of them! Some of them were so large as to essentially be half-cookies, and best of all, many of these contained the familiar white-creme filling we associate with Oreo cookies. This flavor is chock-full of big, ragged cookie chunks, and these chunks tasted fresh and crunchy. Also, the cookie chunks are well-complemented by the vanilla base, which is indeed fresh and creamy, and as the ice cream melted, it softened up the cookies creating a tasty synergy, like dipping a cookie in milk.

Overall, while Cookies and Cream lacks the multiple mix-ins to reach the top level of Blue Bell's more exotic offerings, it is a tasty treat and well worth indulging in. Furthermore, the taste and mix-in levels seem to be of the same good caliber that Blue Bell was known for before they left the market, which bodes well for future expansion.

If you are lucky enough to live in the current sales range and want Cookies and Cream, call ahead to area groceries, as those I contacted said this flavor is the most popular of the five available and is selling out quickly when it arrives. I had to call four stores before I found one that had it in stock.

Where Steve Found It: H.E.B. Groceries (Houston, TX)
Steve's Grade: B

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