Wells Blue Bunny Factory Tour + Free Ice Cream Giveaway!
Posted Jul 19 2010 5:14am
We’ve had quite the dark and stormy start to this Monday morning – lightening and thunder galore!
I made a cozy, comforting breakfast to combat the wind and rain, Apple Crisp Oatmeal.
In the mix:
1/3 cup old fashioned oats
2/3 cup water
vanilla extract, cinnamon
Stewed apple (chopped apple nuked for 2 mins with a splash of water, vanilla, cinnamon and agave nectar)
Honey Roasted Peanut Butter
You know the homemade Honey Roasted Peanut Butter that I eat and eat and eat every weekend at the Farmer’s Market?! A friend gave me a WHOLE TUB all to myself as a birthday gift!!!
I cannot tell you how excited that makes me!
Think sweet & salty honey-roasted peanuts, ground up into a delectable peanut butter paste.
It’s the closest thing I have ever tasted to the peanut butter in a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup – life changing!!!
I added a healthy dallop of it to my sweet, cinnamon apple and warm & creamy oats. Yum!
In the spirit of recovering from WAY too much ice cream, cookies & cake over the past 5 days, I packed a huge Kitchen Sink Salad for lunch.
In the mix:
Pepper Jack cheese
Makes me say “ahhhhh…” I love veggies!
I also packed a Pomegranate Chobani Greek Yogurt. I can’t remember if I’ve had this flavor or not – but I sure hope it has some pom arils in it!
It may seem like there’s a lot of sugar in here – and there is added sugar – but the majority of it is from the natural milk sugar lactose.
This is a feel good meal!
In case you’re just catching up, or are a new reader, I was lucky enough to spend two days in Le Mars, IA last week – the ice cream capital of the world and home to Wells Blue Bunny – for two days of all things ice cream!
Among a 5-course lunch , featuring Blue Bunny ice cream in EACH course, was a factory tour, create your own ice cream project, and many more once-in-a-lifetime experiences. I’ll be re-capping the trip over the next three days, starting with the Blue Bunny Ice Cream factory tour!
What happens when you take two booties, one hair net, a set of ear plugs, a giant lab coat and safety goggles?!
You get 5 bloggers that look like THIS:
On Thursday afternoon, we suited up and headed into the Wells Blue Bunny ice cream factory – eager for an adventure!
First, a little background info:
Wells is the largest family-owned and managed dairy processor in the US, producing more than 500 Blue Bunny branded ice creams, frozen novelties and desserts. Their products are available in all 50 states in grocery stores, restaurants and convenience stores.
The company operates two plants in Le Mars, IA, one of which is the largest in the WORLD, and one in Utah to serve their customers in high altitude locations (so when those people open their cartons of ice cream, it hasn’t shrunk down 3 inches from the change in pressure during shipping!)
Our first stop was to see the trucks that come in day in and day out, filled to the brim with raw ingredients. Think milk, sugar, etc – everything you need to make rich and creamy ice cream!
After the ingredients are pumped into storage tanks, they are mixed together to create an ice cream base.
Fun Fact: Wells produces over 100 million gallons of ice cream per year, which is over 250,000 gallons per day. Veeeery interesting!
Next, the ice cream gets flavored and combined with any “mix-ins” that might be in the flavor they’re running that day. The line we visited was making Rocky Road which has ribbons of soft marshmallow and salty peanuts!
The peanuts get added to a hopper and are pumped through those white pipes to get added to the cold ice cream base.
Then everything is swirled together and deposited into a carton.
Fun Fact: Blue Bunny’s premium ice cream cartons are designed to be extra wide, as to avoid “knuckle muck” – ie the ice cream you get on your knuckles and wrists when trying to dig down into a narrow ice cream container. The worst!
Ice cream was seriously everywhere! Running down the line, over our heads – everywhere! Heaven!
Next we stopped at the ice cream sandwich machine. Oh baby! The fresh, vanilla ice cream gets pressed out from a mold, and is quickly sandwiched between two cookies.
Fun Fact: The cookies on the outside of an ice cream sandwich are actually super crispy. They absorb some of the moisture from the ice cream as they sit, which makes them perfectly soft by the time they get into your hands.
This is when it got GOOD. Bill, our tour guide, grabbed some fresh ice cream sandwiches off the line for us to taste! There IS an ice cream god!
Knowing that the cookies were hard, Bill warned us not to bite into the sandwich the way we normally would, or else the soft, fresh ice cream would just squirt out the sides. We broke off chunks of the cookie and scooped the creamy, cool ice cream straight into our mouths.
Ummmmm…imagine the sweetest, thickest, creamiest CUSTARD you’ve ever had, and times it by 10. 10. The ice cream tasted like decadent custard!! It was truly one of the most delicious things I’ve ever had.
Fresh ice cream, right off the line. It doesn’t get much better than that!
Remind me to never get horn-rimmed glasses…
After oohing and aahing over our ice cream sandwiches, we moved on. Lots to see!
Our next stop was arguably the most eye-popping sight of the tour. Wait for it…
Wait for iiiiiiit…
THERE’S the money shot!!!
OMG! Hundreds and hundreds of chocolate chip Big Bopper Sandwiches!!!
Fun Fact: Stacking the total number of Big Bopper sandwiches produced in a year would extend over 500,000 feet into the sky. That’s more than 12 times higher than the flying altitude of commercial airplanes!
Unlike the ice cream sandwiches we had just tasted, these babies were frozen solid.
They had longer to travel to get to the storage freezer which, fun fact: is 12 stories high, a city-block long and holds 53,000 pallets of ice cream, and they don’t want them melting before getting there!
Next we saw some buckets getting filled with rich, chocolate ice cream,
Jolly Rancher Bomb Pops getting packaged up for some lucky kiddos,
and made a final stop at the ice cream bar machines!
Bill explained to us that ice cream gets poured into ice-cold molds,
then, when they’re frozen just enough, sticks are inserted into the middle.
Fun Fact: It takes over 1.5 billion sticks a year to make Wells’ Blue Bunny frozen novelties. If you placed them end to end, they would stretch over the earth’s equator three times!
Next, in the case of these Orange Dream Bars, the ice cream is loosened from its mold then dipped several times in the sweet, orange flavoring that coats the creamy, vanilla ice cream.
Or in the case of these Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Bars,
they’re dunked in sweet & chewy strawberry shortcake pieces! I wanted to DIVE IN!!!
I heart strawberry shortcake bars!!
Our tour concluded shortly after that – and we all left so impressed and happy. I mean – HAPPY.
Stay tuned tomorrow for CREATING YOUR OWN ICE CREAM!
I’ve accumulated some “Bunny Bucks” over the past couple of weeks, which are coupons for a free carton of ice cream or box of frozen novelties. I’ll be giving one away after my recap for the day, over the next three days. All you have to do is answer the trivia question at the end of the post to be eligible to win. You have until 10pm the night of the post to answer. Good luck!
How many pies could you fill with the amount of strawberries Wells Blue Bunny purchases every year to add to their ice cream and frozen novelties?