Blue Bell is back.
After an April recall took the Brenham-based creamery's product off store shelves, a limited amount and limited number of flavors made its way back into customers' hands early Monday morning.
From Houston to Bryan/College Station and Brenham in between, people lined up early to make a purchase and eventually get a taste, but supplies did not last long. A number of stores sold out in a matter of minutes.
Trucks rolled out from Brenham around 3:30 a.m. to begin making deliveries.
Blue Bell recalled all its products in April after an investigation revealed listeria had been in the product since as far back as January 2010. At least ten people in four states, including Texas, were sickened, and their illnesses were linked back to the ice cream. Three people in Kansas died.
As a result of the recall, Blue Bell had to lay off 1,450 full- and part-time employees. Another 1,400 were furloughed.
Only the company's Alabama plant is up, running and producing ice cream. Some furloughed workers there have returned to work. There has been no time table given for the Brenham or Oklahoma plants to start production again. Each facility has undergone a massive cleaning, according to the company, which also says it has changed its procedures to try and ensure similar health issues don't come up again.
Besides a small section of Alabama near the plant there, only a portion of Texas, including much of the Brazos Valley, is getting shipments starting Monday. Only Leon, Robertson and Milam Counties in our area are not included in Blue Bell's first phase of a five phase return to the market.
Homemade Vanilla, Dutch Chocolate, Cookies 'n Cream and The Great Divide are the first four flavors the company has re-released.