Containers of maroon Blue Bell ice cream and a ceramic bowl filled with scoops of Blue Bell

Courtesy Blue Bell Creameries

Do you know that sinking feeling when you go to see a concert by one of your old favorite bands, only to discover that they insist on eschewing their hits from decades ago and instead play something new or “topical”? Or that their lineup has changed dramatically, with only one or two founding members still performing alongside a rhythm section made up of their tax attorneys?

The older I get, the more I am faced with this kind of harrowing situation. Which is why on May 18, when Blue Bell announced the arrival of its newest flavor, Dr Pepper Float, I was a little skeptical. I just wanted Blue Bell to play the hits.

In a press release, Blue Bell vice president of sales and marketing Jimmy Lawhorn remarked that, “The best ice cream floats are made with Dr Pepper poured over a few scoops of Blue Bell,” a fact that I will happily concede. Over the years, I’ve poured innumerable things over scoops of Blue Bell, from the traditional root beer to more subversive liquids like keg beer, but it’s our state’s own Dr Pepper that creates the perfect alchemy. I’ve done a good deal of research and reportage on Blue Bell in the past, so I consider myself somewhat of an “expert,” and as far as I am concerned, the folks in Brenham have never tried something so daring and ambitious.

“You may find yourself reaching for a soda glass instead of a bowl,” says Lawhorn, but I was dubious. How, I wondered, do they even get the Dr Pepper in there? And more importantly, does it even belong in there?

I made my way to the corner market in my neighborhood and procured a pint of Dr. Pepper Float to see for myself. Throwing all caution to the wind, I threw the top of the carton in a trash can, then sat on the curb in dwindling sunlight and dug in. And I am pleased to report that the “little creamery” in Brenham has raised the bar again.

With a Dr Pepper sherbet swirled among Blue Bell’s signature Homemade Vanilla, I was astounded at how much the flavor resembled real Dr Pepper. John Alvarado, senior vice president of Dr Pepper brand marketing, reinforces this sentiment, saying, “We can’t wait to provide our fans with another refreshing way to enjoy Dr Pepper.” Meaning not the taste of Dr Pepper, but actual Dr Pepper.

So often the science of making things taste like other things can go horribly awry (I am thinking in particular jelly beans, which are shameless in their flavor fabrications and often debase themselves with chemical compounds that vaguely resemble cotton candy, coffee, or even gin and tonic).

The Dr Pepper Float, however, tastes and behaves exactly like it should, with a signature vanilla ice cream flavor nestled between the first and finishing notes of Dr Pepper, and a general feeling of nostalgia and pleasure to accompany the experience. To bring the metaphor full circle, digging into Dr Pepper Float is indeed similar to going to see one of your favorite old bands, but in this case, they play all the hits with just enough nuance thrown in to keep things interesting and make you wanting more.

And while I didn’t end up reaching for a glass instead of a bowl, that is not the fault of Blue Bell; that is more of a congenital condition I have, one that prohibits my eating Blue Bell in anything other than the container in which it is sold. You see, once my Blue Bell leaves the freezer, it never goes back in.

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