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Farewell, Yarnell’s: Arkansas Ice Cream company closes after more than 75 years

If you grew up in Arkansas like me, chances are Yarnell’s Ice Cream was a part of your life.

So it’s sad to read when something you grew up with has come to an end.

 This morning, CEO Christina Yarnell released a statement on Facebook and the Yarnell’s web site that said the company was ceasing production after hard times and unsuccessful efforts to keep the company afloat.

Yarnell’s Ice Cream reminds me of going to my grandparents’ house, fighting my brothers for power of the remote control, and a refreshing scoop served on top of whatever dessert my granny made. Yarnell’s reminds me of my late grandfather, who was so proud two decades ago when Yarnell’s made the decision to start distributing in Russia soon after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

It was once a lot easier for Yarnell’s, because at the grocery store you typically had about three choices for ice cream. There was the rectangular cardboard box, the giant, sturdy and reusable plastic bucket that could never fit in your freezer, and Yarnell’s. I didn’t have Ben & Jerry’s until I was 16, and even then I had to travel to another state.

In spite of having distribution agreements with national companies like Haagen-Dazs and Edy’s/Dryer’s, the competition from those and other companies was just too much.

So, it’s sad. Yarnell’s was like a wonderful secret that we kept to ourselves; after all our other companies went multi-national, we still had our own thing with Yarnell’s. We knew the commercials and the jingles and the associations with “Down-Home Goodness” they brought us.

Eh, maybe I’m getting a little too sentimental. After all, my family has a history of diabetes, and sitting down with a giant bowl of ice cream just isn’t in the cards for us anymore.

But I keep thinking how sad it’s going to be to open my grandmother’s freezer and not see the maroon carton with the gold lid anymore. And it makes me think of how my grandmother can’t do as much as she once did. And it makes me think of mortality, and how we all need to enjoy life a little bit more, because we never know when the things we associate with wonderful memories will exit our lives before we have the chance to say our proper goodbyes.

So, from the bottom of my heart, thanks for being part of my life, Yarnell’s.

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