Wells Blue Bunny Factory Tour + Free Ice Cream Giveaway!

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We’ve had quite the dark and stormy start to this Monday morning – lightening and thunder galore! 8O

I made a cozy, comforting breakfast to combat the wind and rain, Apple Crisp Oatmeal. :)

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 In the mix:

  • 1/3 cup old fashioned oats
  • 2/3 cup water
  • vanilla extract, cinnamon
  • Stewed apple (chopped apple nuked for 2 mins with a splash of water, vanilla, cinnamon and agave nectar)
  • Sliced almonds
  • Honey Roasted Peanut Butter

You know the homemade Honey Roasted Peanut Butter that I eat and eat and eat every weekend at the Farmer’s Market?! A friend gave me a WHOLE TUB all to myself as a birthday gift!!! 

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I cannot tell you how excited that makes me!

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Think sweet & salty honey-roasted peanuts, ground up into a delectable peanut butter paste.

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It’s the closest thing I have ever tasted to the peanut butter in a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup – life changing!!! 

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I added a healthy dallop of it to my sweet, cinnamon apple and warm & creamy oats. Yum!

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In the spirit of recovering from WAY too much ice cream, cookies & cake over the past 5 days, I packed a huge Kitchen Sink Salad for lunch.  

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In the mix:

  • Mixed greens
  • Spinach
  • Cucumber
  • Tomato
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Pepper Jack cheese

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Makes me say “ahhhhh…” I love veggies!

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I also packed a Pomegranate Chobani Greek Yogurt. I can’t remember if I’ve had this flavor or not – but I sure hope it has some pom arils in it! :D

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It may seem like there’s a lot of sugar in here – and there is added sugar – but the majority of it is from the natural milk sugar lactose

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This is a feel good meal!

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Wells Blue Bunny Trip Recap: Factory Tour!

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In case you’re just catching up, or are a new reader, I was lucky enough to spend two days in Le Mars, IA last week – the ice cream capital of the world and home to Wells Blue Bunny – for two days of all things ice cream!

Among a 5-course lunch, featuring Blue Bunny ice cream in EACH course, was a factory tour, create your own ice cream project, and many more once-in-a-lifetime experiences. I’ll be re-capping the trip over the next three days, starting with the Blue Bunny Ice Cream factory tour!

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What happens when you take two booties, one hair net, a set of ear plugs, a giant lab coat and safety goggles?!

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You get 5 bloggers that look like THIS:

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HOT!

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On Thursday afternoon, we suited up and headed into the Wells Blue Bunny ice cream factory – eager for an adventure!

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First, a little background info:

Wells is the largest family-owned and managed dairy processor in the US, producing more than 500 Blue Bunny branded ice creams, frozen novelties and desserts. Their products are available in all 50 states in grocery stores, restaurants and convenience stores.

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The company operates two plants in Le Mars, IA, one of which is the largest in the WORLD, and one in Utah to serve their customers in high altitude locations (so when those people open their cartons of ice cream, it hasn’t shrunk down 3 inches from the change in pressure during shipping!)

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Our first stop was to see the trucks that come in day in and day out, filled to the brim with raw ingredients. Think milk, sugar, etc – everything you need to make rich and creamy ice cream!

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After the ingredients are pumped into storage tanks, they are mixed together to create an ice cream base.

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Fun Fact: Wells produces over 100 million gallons of ice cream per year, which is over 250,000 gallons per day. Veeeery interesting!

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Next, the ice cream gets flavored and combined with any “mix-ins” that might be in the flavor they’re running that day. The line we visited was making Rocky Road which has ribbons of soft marshmallow and salty peanuts!

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The peanuts get added to a hopper and are pumped through those white pipes to get added to the cold ice cream base.

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Then everything is swirled together and deposited into a carton.

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Wheee!!!

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Fun Fact: Blue Bunny’s premium ice cream cartons are designed to be extra wide, as to avoid “knuckle muck” – ie the ice cream you get on your knuckles and wrists when trying to dig down into a narrow ice cream container. The worst!

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Ice cream was seriously everywhere! Running down the line, over our heads – everywhere! Heaven!

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Next we stopped at the ice cream sandwich machine. Oh baby! The fresh, vanilla ice cream gets pressed out from a mold, and is quickly sandwiched between two cookies.

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Fun Fact: The cookies on the outside of an ice cream sandwich are actually super crispy. They absorb some of the moisture from the ice cream as they sit, which makes them perfectly soft by the time they get into your hands.

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This is when it got GOOD. Bill, our tour guide, grabbed some fresh ice cream sandwiches off the line for us to taste! There IS an ice cream god! ;)

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Knowing that the cookies were hard, Bill warned us not to bite into the sandwich the way we normally would, or else the soft, fresh ice cream would just squirt out the sides. We broke off chunks of the cookie and scooped the creamy, cool ice cream straight into our mouths.

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Ummmmm…imagine the sweetest, thickest, creamiest CUSTARD you’ve ever had, and times it by 10. 10. The ice cream tasted like decadent custard!! It was truly one of the most delicious things I’ve ever had.

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Fresh ice cream, right off the line. It doesn’t get much better than that!

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Remind me to never get horn-rimmed glasses…

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After oohing and aahing over our ice cream sandwiches, we moved on. Lots to see!

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Our next stop was arguably the most eye-popping sight of the tour. Wait for it…

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Wait for iiiiiiit…

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THERE’S the money shot!!!

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OMG! Hundreds and hundreds of chocolate chip Big Bopper Sandwiches!!!

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Fun Fact: Stacking the total number of Big Bopper sandwiches produced in a year would extend over 500,000 feet into the sky. That’s more than 12 times higher than the flying altitude of commercial airplanes!

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Unlike the ice cream sandwiches we had just tasted, these babies were frozen solid.

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They had longer to travel to get to the storage freezer which, fun fact: is 12 stories high, a city-block long and holds 53,000 pallets of ice cream, and they don’t want them melting before getting there! 

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Next we saw some buckets getting filled with rich, chocolate ice cream,

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Jolly Rancher Bomb Pops getting packaged up for some lucky kiddos,

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and made a final stop at the ice cream bar machines!

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Bill explained to us that ice cream gets poured into ice-cold molds, 

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then, when they’re frozen just enough, sticks are inserted into the middle.

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Fun Fact: It takes over 1.5 billion sticks a year to make Wells’ Blue Bunny frozen novelties. If you placed them end to end, they would stretch over the earth’s equator three times!

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Next, in the case of these Orange Dream Bars, the ice cream is loosened from its mold then dipped several times in the sweet, orange flavoring that coats the creamy, vanilla ice cream.

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Or in the case of these Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Bars,

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they’re dunked in sweet & chewy strawberry shortcake pieces! I wanted to DIVE IN!!!

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I heart strawberry shortcake bars!!  

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Our tour concluded shortly after that – and we all left so impressed and happy. I mean – HAPPY. :D

Stay tuned tomorrow for CREATING YOUR OWN ICE CREAM!

Ice Cream Giveaway

I’ve accumulated some “Bunny Bucks” over the past couple of weeks, which are coupons for a free carton of ice cream or box of frozen novelties. I’ll be giving one away after my recap for the day, over the next three days. All you have to do is answer the trivia question at the end of the post to be eligible to win. You have until 10pm the night of the post to answer. Good luck!

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Today’s question:

How many pies could you fill with the amount of strawberries Wells Blue Bunny purchases every year to add to their ice cream and frozen novelties?

a. 500,000

b. 750,000

c. 1,000,000

d. 1,500,000

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Comments

  1. Abby 07.19.2010

    C! 1,000,000 pies!

  2. Bird 07.19.2010

    C!!!!!!!!

  3. Lisa C 07.19.2010

    I am going with B ……that is a mountain of strawberries !!! yum yum

  4. Meagan 07.19.2010

    I’m thinking B!

  5. Maura 07.19.2010

    I’m going to go with B too! Looks like you had such a great time! I can’t wait to hear more about it :)

  6. erica 07.19.2010

    C, 1 million!

  7. Natalie 07.19.2010

    Hmmm those are some crazy numbers! I’m going to go with.. C!

    If they’re making 100 million gallons a year, 10% (possibly the strawberry components of their company would be about that amount of their products)

  8. Tracy 07.19.2010

    I’m going to say “C” also!

  9. Danielle 07.19.2010

    My guess is C!

  10. Amy 07.19.2010

    C!!!

  11. Stacy M. 07.19.2010

    I’m sure it’s more than I could imagine, but I’m going to go with C!!

  12. Hannah V 07.19.2010

    I think I’ll go with C! Looks like you had a lot of fun. You’re so lucky to have an amazing opportunity like that! :]

  13. Evelyn 07.19.2010

    D. They make a lot of ice cream!

  14. Katie Girolamo 07.19.2010

    I would have to guess C ! Looks like a fun trip!

  15. Michelle 07.19.2010

    I’ll say C! What an amazing trip you had, sounds like heaven :)

  16. kristin 07.19.2010

    i am going to go with C! love these pictures – what a fun trip!

  17. Abby Ryan 07.19.2010

    The picture of the choco chip Big Boppers nearly caused me to reach through the screen…….delightful! I may have to stop at Hy-Vee (another favorite of this Iowa Girl) to pick some up for Iowa appreciation night! If you’re lovin’ on your home state products, the calories don’t count! YAY!!

    Did you know that calories don’t count the one day of the year you attend the Iowa State Fair? Thought I’d share that fun fact! Counting down the days…..

  18. Jodi 07.19.2010

    My answer is C. That’s a whole lot of pies and strawberries!!! Yummy

  19. Cate 07.19.2010

    I’m gonna go with C, too. :)

  20. Kristie 07.19.2010

    The answer is C. well actually it is over 1,000,000….I’m a food-fact nerd.

  21. Kristen 07.19.2010

    I’m going to say C, over a million! Now you have my craving strawberry pie with some vanilla ice cream. Mmmm

  22. Allison 07.19.2010

    I don’t have a clue. I’ll go with D, I guess. Nice pics!

  23. Jenna 07.19.2010

    Great pictures! Looks like fun! :)
    I’m going to say D in regards to strawberries.

  24. Jackie W. 07.19.2010

    C!

  25. Katie 07.19.2010

    I’m going with C!

  26. Lindsey 07.19.2010

    I’m torn between C and D…but I’ll choose C!

  27. Judy 07.19.2010

    I think the answer is C!

  28. Virginia 07.19.2010

    I think I’m going to have to say C!

  29. Darci 07.19.2010

    I’m going to guess C!

  30. Jae 07.19.2010

    c!

  31. Tay 07.19.2010

    So jealous!!! That looks like complete heaven.

    I’m going with….D!

  32. Amy 07.19.2010

    I am going with 1 million C. BTW, does Blue Bunny have tours for the public? Might be the one reason my husband and boys will be more than happy to travel to Iowa this summer :)

  33. sassy molassy 07.19.2010

    C-1 million!

    Those photos are awesome, especially of the ice cream sandwiches. Love those things!

  34. Ashley 07.19.2010

    My answer is C!
    And the picture of the Big Bopper Sandwiches is definitely a money shot!! Thanks for sharing :-).

  35. stacy 07.19.2010

    goin with D!!!

  36. Katie 07.19.2010

    I’m going to have to say “C!”

  37. Michelle 07.19.2010

    I am going to guess C. Thanks for the chance!

  38. STAISHA W 07.19.2010

    D is my guess.

  39. Kim Barney 07.19.2010

    D! Definitely D! That’s a whole lotta strawberry deliciousness!

  40. susan 07.19.2010

    C!

  41. I’m going with D? Love all that ice cream, especially the big bopper sandwiches, my husband and I LOVE those!

  42. Karla 07.19.2010

    I would say they COULD fill 1,500,000 pies but would end up with only 500,000 because I would have eaten them up before then! Looks like you guys had a blast!

  43. Rachel Wallace 07.19.2010

    C: 1,000,000

  44. cass 07.19.2010

    C! Seems like a good number :)

  45. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kristin and Kristin, Dubba. Dubba said: RT @iowagirleats: Wells Blue Bunny Factory Tour + Free Ice Cream Giveaway! http://tinyurl.com/36qsz4d […]

  46. Melanie 07.19.2010

    C! :)

  47. Tamara 07.19.2010

    The answer is C, 1 million.

  48. Andrea 07.19.2010

    I am going to say B – but with any answer that’s a lot of strawberries!

  49. Elyse 07.19.2010

    I say C! What a fun trip! I have always wanted to take a factory tour like that, and what better one than ice cream no less?!?! That honey peanut butter you got looks amazing :-) Now I have a craving for that and a pretzel! Have a good Monday

  50. Melinda 07.19.2010

    I’m guessing C. What an amazing trip! Making your own ice cream creation would be a hoot! :)

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