After a week of frenzied voting, we’ve reached the final round of the Ultimate Texas Brand Bracket. We’ve seen many fine brands fall by the wayside during the first four rounds of voting; much-loved names such as Dr Pepper and Whataburger have been eliminated, joining first-round eliminations such as Chuck E. Cheese and Thomas J. Henry in the great bracket in the sky. We’ve seen a handful of themes emerge during the tournament, and they’ve carried us through to this point: on the one hand, the dominance of the heavy favorites; on the other, the forgiving nature of Texans even in the face of genuine scandal. And now, it comes down to two.
The first of those two is no surprise. H-E-B entered the contest as the top seed in the “stores” category, and throughout the course of the event has never trailed—not on the voting that occurred here on TexasMonthly.com, and not on the social media voting taking place on our Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook pages. (Feel free to cast your ballots on all of those platforms, if either of our finalists inspires you to do so!) H-E-B has been the dominant player to this point, and after its thorough trouncing of the iconic Whataburger in the Final Four, it’s in the driver’s seat for this championship round. It’s UCLA in 1968, the 1976 Hoosiers, and Duke 1992 all rolled into one. For it to falter here would be a huge surprise.
However, this bracket has been full of surprises. If you anticipated a first-round knockout for Luby’s, or Austin City Limits coming within sixteen votes of the Elite Eight, your sense of what Texans love is better than ours—and “Texas” is literally right there in our name. To that end:
H-E-B has one last chance of being stopped, and the brand that can melt its hopes is Brenham-based Blue Bell ice cream. Has Blue Bell struggled to maintain its prestige among Texans in the wake of its 2015 listeria scandal? The answer, clearly, is no. Blue Bell’s path to the final was hardly an easy one—it faced down Shiner, cooled off Yeti, sent Dr Pepper back to school, and soared above Southwest Airlines to get here—and through each round, y’all kept voting it onward. If it can pull that off one more time, the answer will be indisputable: Texans have forgiven Blue Bell and crowned a winner accordingly.
This is it: the moment of truth. H-E-B, the supermarket chain that Texans adore, against Blue Bell, the ice cream brand that hasn’t gotten any less sweet in the eyes of consumers. Let’s cast those ballots once again, and may the most beloved, most iconic, most Texan brand of them all win.