Yarnell Ice Cream Company of Searcy, Arkansas traces its roots back to 1932 when Ray Yarnell purchased the assets of Southwest Dairy Products in a bankruptcy sale. Times were tough for Ray, his wife Hallie and their young son Albert during the Great Depression. Drawing no salary while keeping the company going on borrowed funds, Ray survived the Depression and steadily grew the business selling 5 gallon metal cans of ice cream to local drug stores and ice cream parlors.
In the late 1930s, the Yarnells purchased their first electronically refrigerated truck, which greatly expanded their selling territories.
Following military service in World War II, Albert rejoined the company in 1948 as sales manager. Recognizing the growing trend in ice cream consumption as more of a “take home” product, Albert focused on growing retail sales. He led a major plant expansion in 1951 and expanded sales through central and south Arkansas.
Following his father Ray’s death in 1974, Albert took over as president. A year later, after his own military career, Albert’s son Rogers re-joined the family business in 1975. Under Albert and Rogers’ leadership the company continued to expand through reinvestment in the manufacturing, warehousing and delivery operations. Through acquisitions, Yarnell’s became the last Arkansas-based ice cream manufacturer. With an eye towards innovation, Yarnell’s expanded its offerings beyond the “Premium Reds” into Frozen Yogurt and “Guilt Free” ice creams.
A fourth generation Yarnell, Christina joined the business in 2001. Christina’s flair for product development lead to “Pink Promise,” a strawberry-raspberry ice cream with a portion of the profits donated to the Susan G. Komen Foundation.
Closing Doors Open Up A New, Bright Future.
Faced with increasing retail price pressures, rising commodity costs and declining sales, Yarnell Ice Cream Company shut its doors on June 30, 2011. At a bankruptcy sale on November 30, 2011, Schulze & Burch Biscuit Company, with operations in Chicago, Illinois, and Searcy, Arkansas, purchased Yarnell’s, including its original recipes.
Founded in 1923, Schulze & Burch is the leading manufacturer of store brand toaster pastries in the world. With over 1 million square feet of manufacturing, Schulze & Burch produces wholesome snacks and other grain based products for many of the Fortune 100 consumer products companies.
Recognizing the importance of the Yarnell’s brand to Arkansans, Schulze & Burch decided to re-launch the top selling Yarnell’s flavors using the same original formulas in an updated and larger carton. The outpouring of excitement and support for the re-launch has exceeded all expectations.
Here’s to another 80 years of Down-Home Goodness!