Where in the USA is the CoCo Locomoto? travel blog

Living on the "edge," the river's edge that is.

Beautiful vegetables at the Farmers Market.

The Blue Bunny Ice Cream Parlor in Le Mars

Artifacts from Blue Bunny's old packaging

The Progression of Blue Bunny Delivery Trucks

Le Mars, Iowa...the Ice Cream Capital of the World

Ice Cream Cones that dot the city streets of Le Mars

A portion of the company's largest plant


What could be better than visiting the Ice Cream Capital of the World? Just 25 miles northeast of Sioux City, Le Mars was one of our plans for the day. Finding our way around in this area is a little confusing! We are staying at the Scenic Campground in Nebraska with a water view of the Missouri River which is right across the river from Sioux City, Iowa. Winding your way around the streets you're in and out of Nebraska then Iowa then back in Nebraska and then back in Iowa. Starting out this morning with the rest of our bucket list for the area, the first stop was a wonderful Farmers Market with lots of beautiful fresh fruit and vegetables. Loading up on all the things we wanted to eat we headed for the car with Mike carrying a 30+ pound watermelon grown locally and me with bags of corn, cukes, tomatoes and squash. Where we think we're going to put all this stuff in an RV fridge still is a mystery but we'll figure it out! We then headed north to Le Mars which is the Ice Cream Capital of the World. As you drive through town, getting to the Blue Bunny Ice Cream Parlor, there are fun decorated ice cream cones about 6' tall, dotting the streets. While the company wasn't named "Blue Bunny" until 1935, the Wells Family has been making ice cream since 1913 and they sure know how to do it well. It continues to be the largest family owned and managed ice cream company in the U.S. They have over 2,500 employees nationwide and sell their products in all 50 states even though founder Fred H. Wells, Jr told the younger generation that he didn't want them expanding any father than the area around Sioux City! They produce over 100 million gallons of ice cream per year which is over 250,000 gallons every day. They have over 70 ice cream flavors but vanilla (several different kinds) is still the most popular followed by Chocolate and Bunny Tracks. They purchase enough strawberries each year to fill over 1 million strawberry pies, use over a million pounds of pecans annually (which equals the combined weight of 16 adult Humpback Whales) and the annual tonnage of chocolate, for coating their ice cream bars, would cover 47 football fields 1" thick...a total of 8 million pounds. It takes over 1.5 million sticks per year to make their ice cream novelties. Disappointed that we couldn't tour the plant(of which they have 2 in Le Mars and one in St. George, UT), there is a small museum on the second floor of the Ice Cream Parlor which has a lot of artifacts and packaging from years ago. We did drive out to the south manufacturing plant (which is the largest of the three and BTW, they are adding onto) to see just how big it was. The storage freezer alone is 12 stories high, a city block long and holds 53,000 pallets of ice cream, making it one of the largest and coldest (a constant 20 degrees below zero) freezers in the world.

Mike not being able to have milk ordered their lemon sorbet which was to die for and CoCo and I had a small scoop of Coffee and one of Vanilla with chocolate and caramel chips and drizzles of both chocolate and caramel throughout. For a girl who has never liked ice cream (except homemade) both were absolutely delicious and I have never tasted a creamier ice cream ever. If they set up Blue Bunny Ice Cream Shops across the country, they would put Baskin and Robbins and Cold Stone out of business in a hurry! There is more ice cream made in Le Mars, IA than any other location on earth, making it the "Ice Cream Capital of the World." A fact we had never heard of or even thought about until we made plans to come to this area. It was a great trip and one we would definitely recommend. Having filled our tummies with Le Mars "yummies" our next stop was the Milwaukee Railroad Shop and Museum just northwest of town. We began to wonder just what we were in for when there were no signs for it but several other things in the same area. Upon arrival (don't blink or you'll miss the sign), there were only 6 old ratty vehicles in the parking lot, 3 passenger train cars and one locomotive in the yard and a couple of buildings that looked empty. Not getting good vibes from the place and seeing no other vehicles or any people around we decided to follow our gut and leave. Did we pass on something great...who knows but I am a firm believer that we should all follow that little inner voice and that's what we did. While it would have been fun to see, hopefully one day when traveling in the area again the place will be a vibrant museum with lots to learn about the railroad back in the early days. Deciding we had better get our fruit and veggies home before they cooked themselves in the car we headed home to enjoy watching tons of small fishing boats travel up and down the river. It has been a nice stay in Sioux City and it is a very pretty area with Le Mars being a "must stop" on your bucket list (even if you don't like ice cream)! Wherever you live or are traveling be sure to look for the Blue Bunny as you never know in whose freezer you may find him (or her)hiding...and it is worth the hunt!



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