July 22, 2010

One Of The Most Wonderful Places In The World: My Trip To Blue Bunny Ice Cream Headquarters

I'm a pretty lucky girl.

Occasionally I'm invited to try remarkable things and travel to even more delightful places as a blogger.  When I was invited to spend a couple of days in The Ice Cream Capital of The World, Le Mars, Iowa, how could I say no? Wells Dairy, the parent company of Blue Bunny Ice Cream, hosted a 2 day bloggers' summit that took my breath away. Gasp. Swoon. Faint., sure enough.

My partners in crime were four other bloggers from across the country: Pauline of Classy Chaos, Kristin of Iowa Girl Eats, Amy of Selfish Mom and Sahar of  Fat Fighter TV. What a wonderful group! I can't think of a better gang to have shared in this experience.  There was lots of laughter (and a fair amount of winea...but, yes...we're here to talk about ice cream).

We flew into Omaha, Nebraska and then were caravaned two hours away to a delightful little town in what seemed like the middle of nowhere: LeMars, Iowa.  It was very sleepy, unpretentious and the people? Oh, the people.  It's hard to imagine where I've met so many great personalities.

Thursday was our main tour day.  We began with breakfast at Habitue' Coffeehouse and Creperie, a cafe in the middle of town that is owned by the Wells Family.  We enjoyed crepes and coffee before heading off to a tour of the Blue Bunny Plant.  What's cool about Habitue' Cafe is that, after expenses, all net proceeds are given to a charity.  The staff was so friendly and the decor was stunning!

After breakfast, we trekked over to Blue Bunny's production facility. Suited up in our nice outfits (don't you love how I popped the collar? Ever the fashionista, y'all...) and MC Hammer-ish safety glasses, we were taken on a tour of the plant....THIS is where the magic happened.  We received a soup to nuts tour from two of the plant supervisors who escorted us through every single ingredient, how they are transported, stored and how they begin the life cycle which lends to the great ice cream that we consume.

On this particular day, we were privy to seeing gallons of ice cream being processed and packaged.  And let me tell you this: you have NOT lived until you taste an ice cream sandwich that's just off the conveyor belt. So fresh! What was interesting to learn was that the cookies are hard to begin with and soften over time (Why am I this way? Now I want a fresh ice cream sandwich!).  After ice cream sandwiches we witnessed the Jolly Rancher Ice Pop packaging and Chips Galore Ice Cream Sandwiches, Strawberry Ice Cream Sundae Crunch Bars and Orange Dream Bars being born. In a word:  Wow!

After the tour, we headed over to lunch where Chef John Kennedy and his assistant prepared a delightful lunch! Get this? We had ice cream for lunch! Every course contained a Blue Bunny Ice Cream. Here is the menu:
  • Apertif - Blue Bunny Strawberry Spritzer (Blue Bunny Strawberry Ice Cream, Club Soda and Muddled Mint)
  • Amuse Bouche (a new term for me) Citrus Ceviche: Blue Bunny Lemon Sorbet reduction, Prawns, Scallops and Herbs presented on a single-serve spoon
  • Summer Salad - Organic Greens, Homemade Croutons, Candied Walnuts, Blood Orange Supremes, Blue Bunny Raspberry Vinaigrette, Fried Maytag (the Fried Maytag was The.Business.)
  • Entree - Free Range Chicken from a local farm which was marinated in Blue Bunny Wildberry Sorbet, Herbed Mashed Potatoes, Asparagus, Citrus Buere Blanc and Fried Cabbage
  • Dessert - Chocolate Bordeaux, Cherry Cordials, Mint Bites and White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Lollipops
Salivating yet? Right. We nearly needed to be rolled out of the kitchen.

After lunch we spent time with the Insights team where we were introduced to the processes utilized to ascertain consumer behavior.  It boiled down to why and how certain people purchased ice cream.  We also *gasp* got an opportunity to make our very own ice cream flavors! The Broke Socialite Ice Cream was a vanilla base with salted caramel, chocolate covered nuts, chocolate waffle pieces and Reese's cup pieces. I. Want. It. Again. Now. Our day wrapped with a Blue Bunny's taste testing team which is charged with providing feedback to the Research & Development team from the company when products are changed or added.  Sign me up!

I can't say enough about this trip.  I am lucky to have been chosen and look forward to my one year of free ice cream. Yes. One year. Sweet. Thanks, Blue Bunny!

*Disclosure of material connection: I have received one or more products or services that are listed above in hopes that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only mention products or services I believe in personally and think might be of interest to my readers.


  1. It sounds, and looks like you all had a WONDERFUL time. And that lunch menu, every course with something Blue Bunny, that's awesome! Marinating Chicken in sorbet, that's a must try! Those people are cre-a-tive!

    Glad your trip was productive! I followed all your tweets! You all are nuts.

  2. Love it! Sounds like you had so much fun (and now I want an ice cream sundae all of sudden!). Who knew you could marinate chicken in sorbet!? I have something new to try!!!

  3. It was a pleasure meeting you. You are quite the fashionista. You inspired me to add more color to my wardrobe!

  4. It certainly looks like a great time was had by all.
    How did you stay sane around all of that ice cream? There is no way I could have contained myself.
    I would love to visit the coffeehouse, it looks lovely and inviting.
    Have a great evening, cheers.

  5. I can only imagine how fun this trip was! Thanks for sharing the story and pictures. P.S. Those ice cream sandwiches look so good! :-)

  6. Wow! What an awesome trip. Sounds like fun and good ice cream was had by all. Your ice cream flavor sounds delish - is that the flavor you'll be receiving all year long? Thanks for sharing!

  7. Ooh, what a wonderful trip. One whole year - FREE? Party at TBS's house.

    Winks & Smiles,

  8. The trip sounds and looks like a wonderful experience. I'm salivating over the menu myself. Sorbet as a marinade sounds exquisite. I think Blue Bunny should do a cookbook of fun summer recipes.

  9. Yes I'm too jealous. I love Blue Bunny. Next time can I hide in your luggage?

    Sounds like a wonderful trip. Thanks for sharing.

    Do they do they offer tours all the time? I think I might have to take the kids if they do.

  10. After speaking with you upon your return, I could hear in your voice what a special trip this was & I know you met some lovely ladies! Others on the trip tell me more!

  11. So glad you enjoyed your time in my home state! I always think of Blue Bunny as a local brand. It wasn't until I was driving from Iowa to North Carolina last year that I realized it wasn't. We stopped at a small restaurant in Virginia and it was decorated with Blue Bunny posters. I told the waitress that we were from Iowa and that we lived about 70 miles from LeMars. She was shocked. She didn't realize where the ice cream was coming from! You should come back to Iowa soon!

  12. An ice cream trip....sounds like a dream!

  13. ice cream makes me happy. sounds like something that i would have said, "i died and went to heaven." you've inspired me to make some vanilla bean ice cream right now!


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