By 1919, the creamery was in financial trouble and consider closing its doors. The board of directors hired E.F. Kruse, a 23-year-old former schoolteacher, to take over the company on April 1, 1919. Kruse refused to accept a salary for his first few months in the position so that the company would not be placed in further debt. Under his leadership, the company expanded their production of ice cream to the local area and soon became profitable. At his suggestion, the company renamed themselves Blue Bell Creameries in 1930 after a native Texas wildflower, which, like ice cream, thrived in summer.
Until 1936, the creamery made ice cream by the batch. They could create a 10-gallon batch of ice cream every 20 minutes. In 1936 the company purchased their first continuous ice cream freezer, which could make 80 gallons of ice cream per hour. The ice cream would run through a spigot, allowing it to be poured into any size container.
Kruse was diagnosed with cancer in 1951 and died within two weeks. His sons Ed and Howard took over leadership of the company. By the 1960s, the company completely abandoned the production of butter and began focusing solely on ice cream. By the end of the decade, the company began to expand their markets. After many years of selling ice cream only in Brenham, the company began selling in Houston, then in Dallas and throughout most of Texas. By the end of the decade, their sales had quadrupled, and by 1980 the creamery produced over 10 million gallons of ice cream per year, earning $30 million annually.
In 1989 , sales began in Oklahoma, and throughout the 1990s, aggressive expansion pushed throughout the South Central and Southern United States. In 1992 , Blue Bell built a new manufacturing facility in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, and in 1996 , purchased an existing ice cream factory in Sylacauga, Alabama. Once Blue Bell establishes themselves within a market, word-of-mouth usually ensures that consumers in adjacent areas become aware of the brand and begin requesting it. Despite the clamoring, Blue Bell has been slow to expand. Company executives say they thoroughly research each new market and ensure that all employees in the new markets are fully trained in Blue Bell practices so that product quality can be upheld.
Blue Bell introduced its flagship flavor, "Homemade Vanilla," in 1969 and claims to have invented the flavor"Cookies 'n Cream." Although the company at one time made Cookies 'n Cream from Nabisco's Oreo cookies, buying ordinary retail packages, today they bake their own cookies. As of 1997, Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla was the best-selling single flavor of ice cream in the United States.
Blue Bell retains control over all aspects of their business, primarily to ensure quality control and the use of the freshest ingredients available. The Kruses claim "the milk we use is so fresh it was grass only yesterday." The company owns 60,000 cows, and the cream used during each day's production run is always fewer than 24 hours old. All production and packaging takes place within Blue Bell facilities, which are able to produce over 100 pints per minute. Drivers of delivery vehicles personally stock store shelves so that they can ensure that it is handled properly.
Blue Bell holds impressive sales figures, being the third best-selling ice cream in the United States as of 2004 , behind Breyers and Edy's/Dreyer's, despite being sold in only 17 states. The sales area includes southern states between Arizona and Florida and Kansas City, an area that comprises only 20% of the ice cream sales geographic market. By comparison, each of Blue Bell's top 4 competitors sell their products in over 86% of the United States. In order to become one of the three biggest ice cream manufacturers, Blue Bell has consistently been the top-seller in the majority of the markets the company has entered. Within five months of their entry into Baton Rouge, LA, the company had garnered 35% of the ice cream market. In their home state of Texas, the company has a 52% market share. People living outside the sales area can have the ice cream shipped to them, and U.S. President George W. Bush has often had the ice cream shipped to Camp David. The astronauts aboard the International Space Station were also treated to Blue Bell in 2006 "to help out (the crew's) happiness quotient."
Blue Bell is one of the few ice cream companies in the United States to offer a true half gallon (64 oz) container. Recently, competitors Breyer's and Edy's/Dreyer's have shrunk their containers to 48 oz, while many other competitors offer 56 oz containers. A few still offer half gallon "square" style containers.
Blue Bell's half-gallon container of ice cream is 12 ounces heavier than a half-gallon of Breyers, and has a butterfat content of only 13%, compared to 18% in Haagen-Dazs. R.W. Apple, Jr. of The New York Times claims that "[w]ith clean, vibrant flavors and a rich, luxuriant consistency achieved despite a butterfat content a little lower than some competitors, it hooks you from the first spoonful. Entirely and blessedly absent are the cloying sweetness, chalky texture, and oily, gummy aftertaste that afflict many mass-manufactured ice creams." In 2001, Forbes named Blue Bell the best ice cream in the country.