Making Ice Cream
Everything I Could Ever Tell You About…
NAME: Paul W. Kruse | AGE: 52 | HOMETOWN: Brenham | QUALIFICATIONS: CEO and president of Blue Bell Creameries, which celebrates its one-hundredth anniversary this year / Grandson of former company manager E. F. Kruse
• We eat ice cream every day in my family, though we’re all pretty skinny. My three kids will not go to bed without a bowl of ice cream. My mother’s mother, who is 104, used to eat it all the time. Now, I won’t say that’s why she has lived this long …
• Sometimes I have to taste eighty flavors in a day. I prefer to do that in the afternoon rather than in the morning. A true taste tester will expectorate, but not me. I’ve got to eat it.
• If you ask me what the new flavors are going to be, most likely you’re working for the competition. We try not to tip our hand.
• We get ideas from other folks, and they get ideas from us. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Another company says they invented Cookies ’n Cream. We did it first.
• I know all the ice cream moguls— like Amy, of Amy’s Ice Creams. We have a national association, and they’re all good people. Congress is always messing with us, so we deal with issues of labeling and the FDA and milk, which is heavily regulated from a pricing standpoint.
• When I was a kid, we’d talk about and try new flavors at the house, but our votes didn’t count.
• Homemade Vanilla is my favorite, but I’m starting to get hooked on the anniversary flavor: Century Sundae. This flavor has been so popular, in fact, that we’ve had to extend its time on the shelf.
• My dad, who passed the business on to me, always told me and my siblings to get our own businesses. So I was practicing law in Brenham—happily—when he offered me the job. He said I was the hardest person he’d ever tried to hire. I told him no three times. Finally, he got angry and said, “I mean it!” It was a good move for me. The other day, an attorney friend of mine said, “I love to practice law, and I’ve been successful, but at the end of the day I can’t touch what I’ve done.” It’s nice having a product you can see.
• Nutty Coconut? Some people are crazy for it. Ninety percent can’t stand it. Same with Black Walnut.
• I believe there are extra challenges in our business, because our ingredients need to be fresh and cold and clean. You have to keep the ice cream at twenty below zero and do everything exactly right. It’d be much easier to make pencils.
• I’m healthy! I stay busy and exercise. I’ve never been on a diet in my life. I just ate ice cream twenty minutes ago.