Posted 4/23/2012 12:00 am
Updated 2 years ago
Jack Shock, chairman of the Communications Department at Harding University, made the trip down from Searcy last week to get in on a big media event at the state Capitol.
"I'm having a fresh new cup of Yarnell's ice cream with Governor Beebe," he announced on Facebook. "It's great to be with an old friend.
"And the governor, too."
Yes, there was a double-scoop of good marketing and public relations strategy in the re-introduction of Yarnell's. And it certainly didn't hurt that Gov. Mike Beebe is also from Searcy, the city whose identity (and workforce) took a body blow when Yarnell's suddenly shut down more than 10 months ago after nearly 80 years of operation.
But the excitement over the return of an Arkansas icon is not just marketing hype and PR magic. It's real and almost palpable. We suspect that folks at your office, like ours, paused on Thursday to discuss the lineup of flavors - premium ice cream, frozen yogurt and Guilt-Free - that are coming soon to a freezer near you.
It's the kind of buzz that the new owners would never be able to buy. The hallowed name and trusted recipes alone have to be worth the $1.3 million that Schulze & Burch Biscuit Co. of Chicago paid for Yarnell's at auction.
We noted a report in The Wall Street Journal last week about new life for old brand names - Astro Pops, National Premium beer and the Seafood Shanty are East Coast examples. And before it settled on the geographically limitless Centennial Bank brand, Home BancShares of Conway revived the First State Bank and Twin City Bank names with great success. Grapette International Inc. of Malvern reintroduced the fizzy purple drink in 2000.
But Yarnell's is different. This isn't nostalgia talking. More than a few Arkansans still have stashes of the original round cartons in their freezers, snatched up in the throes of grief last summer and rationed carefully through the long dessert desert. It's great to have our old friend back.