LITTLE ROCK Yarnell's Ice Cream will be back in grocery stores as early as Monday, officials said at a news conference Thursday announcing the brand's comeback after a brush with bankruptcy.
Flavors returning to stores include butter pecan, cookies and cream, death by chocolate, homemade chocolate, homemade strawberry, homemade vanilla, real vanilla and Ozark black walnut and rocky road. Various yogurt and guilt-free flavors and ice cream sandwiches are also returning.
Yarnell's disappeared from shelves last year after a bankruptcy filing. It was bought by Chicago-based Schulze & Burch Biscuit Co., and in recent weeks, the company announced production had resumed.
Chief Executive Kevin Boyle promised fans the flavors would be made with the "same original recipes," although the containers will be larger cartons with rounded edges.
"We're bringing back the same recipes you know and love," he said. "You're just getting more of it."
All of the returning flavors were on display at the news conference, where more than 100 Yarnell's supporters — including Gov. Mike Beebe — sampled ice cream after the announcement.
The company played a promotional video depicting its new mascot, Scoop, taking the first carton of homemade vanilla off the production line and driving it to the Capitol. He then walked into the building and presented Boyle and Beebe with the ice cream.
Each man took a bite and — as Boyle returned to the podium to speak to the crowd — Beebe sneaked a second. He then gave it a positive review.
"It's been so long — eight months, nine months — since I've had this," Beebe said, spoon in hand. "I think it's better."
Yarnell's will be available in Wal-Mart, Kroger, Harp's and independent grocery stores across the state, as well as some locations in southern Missouri, Tulsa and northern Mississippi, the company said.
Distribution begins next week with Yarnell's appearing as early as Monday and in Wal-Mart stores by Wednesday.
Mitch Evans, vice president of sales for Yarnell's and a 28-year veteran of the company, was among a number of employees scooping out samples Thursday. He called the return the "most gratifying moment" of his history with the company.
"It's very emotional, very rewarding, very exciting to be back," he said. "It's an Arkansas icon — kind of like the Razorbacks."
Boyle told the crowd his company didn't initially intend to buy Yarnell's, seeking at first only to hire some of its workers in a plant it has in Searcy making toaster pastries.
But when company officials saw the plant was in good shape, the work force was there and the state wanted its ice cream back, they decided to purchase and revive the brand.
"We realized there are many synergies between the two companies," Boyle said.
Boyle also promised Yarnell's fans that other flavors might be coming back in the future — either as seasonal options or when the lineup is expanded in the future.