Five girls in residential treatment at Lutheran Social Services’ Krause Children’s Center in Katy earned the privilege of having a personal tour of the Blue Bell Creamery in Brenham. Blue Bell’s president and chief executive officer Paul Kruse led the tour himself, pausing to chat with employees, share Blue Bell’s history, and tell stories along the way. Mr. Kruse got to know the girls during the tour, asking them questions and encouraging them to graduate high school and go to college.
The tour was a reward for Krause residents who have exhibited exceptional behavior and growth in their intensive residential therapy program. The girls were accompanied by Tanya Legaux and Rina John from Krause, and Diane Covert, assistant vice president for development at Lutheran Social Services.
Paul Kruse’s pride in the family business and its history was evident as he related the story of how his grandfather ran the creamery upon his return from fighting in World War I, from 1919 until his death in 1951, when his son (Paul Kruse’s dad) took over. He mentioned that Blue Bell ice cream has been taken to the International Space Station three times, and has framed photos on display of American and Russian astronauts eating their Blue Bell ice cream.
Walking through the corridors of the creamery, the Krause visitors were reminded of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, as the delightful smells of chocolate, nuts, and ice cream made everyone hungry. They were invited out on “The Floor,” adorned in hair nets, and Mr. Kruse and one of the Krause girls gave a Blue Bell employee a break on the assembly line. “It was a lot of fun and very cold,” she said. “Can I add this to my resumé, that I worked on the assembly line at Blue Bell for … umm … like five minutes?”
In the chocolate-making room they sampled as much chocolate as they wanted. “Delicious!” everyone agreed. Mr. Kruse explained that 70,000 cows are milked each year to make all of the ice cream, and added this “Fun Fact”: They give the blackened peels from the bananas used in the ice cream to beef cows, because for some reason, beef cows love them while dairy cows, not so much.
During the tour the group saw all sizes of ice cream being packaged, along with ice cream sandwiches, and an assortment of popsicles. A special treat was a peak into the super-secret lab where the new flavors and ice cream snacks are developed and tested. They also took a step or two into the flash freezer; with its 12-below-zero temperature, it was a quick side trip!
The tour came to an end in Blue Bell’s official Ice Cream Parlor, where the Krause contingent could have all the free ice cream they wanted. It was the perfect ending to a wonderful tour and a special day the girls from Krause will always remember.