One of the biggest debates in Texas has nothing to do with sports or politics or even barbecue. It's about ice cream. Blue Bell versus H-E-B's Creamy Creations.
There is many a wonderful thing to be said about Blue Bell ice cream. It's the third-best-selling ice cream brand in the country (despite being distributed in only 22 states) behind Breyer's and Dreyer's/Edy's. In a 2006 New York Times article, R.W. Apple described it as having "clean, vibrant flavors and a rich, luxuriant consistency achieved despite a butterfat content a little lower than some competitors." Blue Bell, manufactured in "the little creamery in Brenham," does Texas proud.
But I'm here today to argue in favor of Creamy Creations, perhaps not on account of taste and texture, but primarily because Creamy Creations is so unabashedly Texan. Blue Bell makes an effort to be Southern rather than touting its obvious Texas roots, but not Creamy Creations. The H-E-B brand ice cream is proud of its heritage and shows it through Texas-inspired flavors.
Creamy Creations recently released its newest flavor in honor of our local football team, the Texans. It's called Texans Tackle Crackle, and it's available at H-E-B throughout football season.
Initially, I was skeptical about Texans Tackle Crackle. First, the name is just weird. And second, the description "decadently rich vanilla ice cream laced with creamy chocolate swirl and loaded with candy crunch," doesn't really tell us much. Like, what's candy crunch?
Upon tasting it, I discovered it's a lot like CRUNCH candy -- puffed rice coated with milk chocolate. I also discovered this football-friendly ice cream is awesome. Creamy, chocolatey without being overwhelming, crunchy without breaking teeth. I ate far more in one sitting than I'd like to admit. And though it ranks way up there in terms of Creamy Creations...creations...it's not quite the best Texas-themed treat they've produced.
Now, without further ado, the top five Creamy Creations odes to Texas.
5. Peach Cobbler
It's true that Blue Bell also makes a "Southern Peach Cobbler," which, admittedly, I've never tried, and Ben & Jerry's makes a Willie Nelson-inspired peach cobbler ice cream (because apparently they couldn't come up with original flavors that don't involve stealing Texan celebrities for endorsements). But the Creamy Creations peach cobbler treat has actual chunks of pie crust in it. Pie crust. In the ice cream. Forget requesting your dessert à la mode...it already comes that way! I honestly don't know if you can still get Creamy Creations peach cobbler, as I haven't spied it on any freezer shelves recently. But if you feel like torturing yourself by drooling over something that might not even be available, check out the above video, made by an amateur food critic/lover of Creamy Creations. Not only is he adorable, but his description of the ice cream is spot on.
4. Floresville Tin Roof Sundae
Did you know that Floresville grows, like, a ton of peanuts? I didn't either, until I first encountered Floresville Tin Roof Sundae ice cream and wondered why Floresville was part of the name. Turns out Floresville has held a peanut festival the second weekend of October every year since 1938. So many peanuts are grown there that Creamy Creations is able to use only the best Floresville peanuts in its Tin Roof ice cream. Or so they say. I like thinking that my ice cream is composed of local(ish) peanuts, though. It's Creamy Creations' smooth plain vanilla ice cream mixed with ribbons of chocolate syrup and bits of Floresville peanuts. Unlike in traditional Tin Roof ice cream, the peanuts in this version aren't coated in chocolate, which means they stay crunchier and more, well, peanuty.
3. Texas Vanilla Seguin Pecan
Like Floresville, Seguin also has a nut festival, but theirs is in celebration of pecans. And yes, I also learned that by way of Creamy Creations. Texas Vanilla Seguin Pecan ice cream debuted in 2009 at Seguin's Pecan Fest Heritage Days, and it's re-released every year around October at select grocery stores and at the pecan festival. (According to H-E-B's Facebook, you can also request H-E-B brand items be stocked at your local store, so if you can't find it, give them a shout.) Pecan ice creams are few and far between, and this one is special because it doesn't just feature pecan flavor. It has big ol' chunks of pecan distributed throughout a rich, slightly spiced vanilla ice cream. I recommend eating it on top of pecan pie for the full effect.
2. Mexican Chocolate
Okay, this one isn't quite as Texas-specific as the previous flavors, but I have discovered that Creamy Creations is one of the only major (I mean, it's major in my mind) ice cream companies that even manufacture a Mexican chocolate flavor. Häagen-Dazs used to make an "Aztec Chocolate" ice cream with a similar flavor profile, but for some reason it was discontinued. Creamy Creations Mexican Chocolate is everything you dream Mexican chocolate ice cream should be: Rich, dark, slightly spicy, cinnamon-y, comforting and, of course, creamy. From my experience, it's a winter flavor that pops up on shelves around December every year, and it's available only for a limited time. Snatch it up while you can! Put it in your coffee! Put it on top of waffles! Eat it right out of the half-gallon container! Believe me, you wouldn't be the first to do so.
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1. Poteet Strawberry
I would dare to argue that this is the best grocery store strawberry ice cream out there. Many strawberry ice creams are artificially colored pink, and the strawberry flavor doesn't taste like real strawberries. Not so with this masterpiece of Texan pride. H-E-B buys 60,000 pounds of strawberries from Wheeler Farms in Poteet every year, then mixes those perfect berries in with vanilla ice cream. It's less strawberry ice cream per se than it is vanilla with strawberry chunks. The strawberries add a tart punch to every bite, and a tiny bit of Mesquite honey sweetens the mix. It's simple and traditional, and the perfect treat on a hot summer day (when the ice cream is usually available). Special Creamy Creations flavors come and go, but this has been a summer staple for more than 20 years.