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The Tyrrell Historical Library Collection - Blue Bell Creameries (1980)

Tyrrell Historical Library

Sound | 1980

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  •  President Ed Kruse 
  •  Cookies ‘n’ Cream 
  •  Packaging and shipping 
 
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  • PM Magazine PM Magazine
  • Blue Bell Creameries Blue Bell Creameries
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In this 1980 segment for PM Magazine, co-host Anna Chavez profiles Blue Bell Creameries in Brenham. PM Magazine was a local news and entertainment television program broadcast on Beaumont’s KFDM-TV in from late 1970s to the mid-1980s. This segment aired on November 17, 1980.
PM Magazine, also known as Evening Magazine, was a local weeknight news and entertainment television series broadcast on multiple stations across the United States from the late 1970s to the early 1990s. The program combined both local and syndicated segments, with common subjects including local people and events, lifestyle and consumer tips, and human-interest pieces. KPIX in San Francisco premiered the first iteration of Evening Magazine on August 9, 1976. Station owner Westinghouse (Group W) Broadcasting subsequently introduced local versions at its other stations, before syndicating the format to other television markets as PM Magazine. 
 
The Tyrrell Historical Library Collection encompasses hundreds of PM Magazine segments broadcast on Beaumont’s KFDM-TV between 1979 and 1985. Leeza Gibbons and John Walls were the program’s original co-hosts. Gibbons went on to become a correspondent and co-host for Entertainment Tonight from 1984 to 2000. She also hosted her own daytime talk show, Leeza, from 1993 to 2000. 
 
At least ten other Texas stations produced versions of PM Magazine, including KFDA in Amarillo, KTBC in Austin, WFAA and KDFW in Dallas-Fort Worth, KVIA in El Paso, KHOU and KHTV in Houston, KCBD in Lubbock, KSAT in San Antonio, and KAUZ in Wichita Falls. Group W canceled the format in 1990, with final episodes airing on August 30, 1991. 
Blue Bell Creameries is a ice cream manufacturer based in Brenham, Texas. The company began in 1907 as a farming cooperative called the Brenham Creamery Company, with local dairy farmers making butter from their excess cream. Ice cream production started four years later, with the frozen treat becoming Blue Bell’s sole focus in 1958. E. F. Kruse took over as the company’s general manager in 1919. The Kruse family still owns the company. 
 
Expansion began in the 1960s as the company opened production facilities and distribution centers in other Texas cities and, eventually, out-of-state. The company would come to dominate the regional market, with Blue Bell named the nation’s second-leading ice cream brand by 1992. (In Texas, the company accounted for 57 percent of sales.) The 300,000-square-foot plant in Brenham, known as the “Little Creamery,” became the city’s largest private employer. 
 
A listeria outbreak in 2015 nearly shut down the company permanently. After multiple reported cases, including three fatal, Blue Bell stopped all production and issued a complete product recall on April 20, 2015. Seventy-three percent of employees were either laid off or furloughed. With the help of a $125-million investment from Sid Bass of Fort Worth, Blue Bell started a five-phase plan to return to markets on August 31, 2015. The company slowly resumed distribution across Texas and the Southeastern United States, but production was indefinitely suspended at 15 of its 50 facilities. According to Statista, Blue Bell was the fourth most popular ice cream brand by 2017.