Cohen Thompson and his roommates wanted to collect something unique for their house when the Texas A&M students moved into a townhome together as sophomores.
A stack of beer cans? Nope. Bottles of energy drinks? That wasn’t it.
After the group brainstormed, Thompson’s roommate, Calvin Small, had an idea: they could stack cartons of different Blue Bell ice cream flavors in their living room cabinets.
The house of guys often had ice cream in their freezer, so the idea took off and it’s now become something much larger than goofy college house décor.
Thompson and his roommates — Small, Nick Wright-Eulitt and Wilson White — have since been on a mission to collect and rank every flavor of Blue Bell ice cream. The journey started over a year ago and has been documented over YouTube, TikTok and Instagram. Thompson creates videos of them trying different flavors and then ranking them into six different tiers. Thompson’s YouTube channel has 271,000 subscribers. His TikTok page has 104.1K followers and 5 million likes. Thompson and his roommates are now seniors in their final semester at A&M and have tried and ranked all 67 known flavors of Blue Bell.
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“I definitely did not think that so many people would care about Blue Bell ice cream,” Thompson said. “We just made the video because we had a huge collection. I didn’t purposefully make it because I thought it would do great. I guess Blue Bell has a very cult-like following, so people really, Texas people especially, resonated with that.”
Before Thompson made any ice cream-related videos, he had experience shooting and editing videos. During the group’s junior year, Small told Thompson he should make TikToks about something. Thompson had a list of ideas and one of them was making a tier list of all the flavors they had of the Brenham-based ice cream maker.
At that point, the group had collected 32 different flavors. In the video, Thompson explained S-tier comprised of “the flavors that became borderline addictions,” A-tier “we bought twice,” B-Tier “consists of great flavors we’ve only bought once,” C-tier “is the definition of mid,” D-tier “consists of flavors we finished but never would buy again,” and F-tier was for flavors “that were so bad we couldn’t even finish them.”
“Obviously, we’re not the end all, be all of if the ice cream’s good,” Thompson said. “We all have our unique tastes and everybody has different tastes.”
When ranking a flavor, the group doesn’t use a rubric. Roommates present and occasional friends have partaken in ranking flavors. Most rankings are based on initial reaction after eating a full bowl, but some are sat on until a video is made. Some flavors have been re-ranked.
“Cohen, he has the final say, sort of like the president, where he can veto our own reactions and he can say, ‘I think it’s this,’” Small said. “But it’s also a democratic process, too.”
The first video was a hit and led the group to begin their journey to find the remaining flavors.
“It’s grown ourselves as roommates and friends closer, just to bond over something like this,” Small said. “And it’s just been exciting seeing how much Cohen works on the videos and how much hard work he goes through. He puts in a lot of effort and to see it bear fruit and see the rewards of it with his following. It’s been fun to see that.”
Most flavors were bought at the H-E-B on Texas Avenue in College Station. Others took some effort to find.
Early into the endeavor, Thompson learned about a Cinnamon flavor that is only sold to parlors and restaurants. At the time, the group knew of only one place that sold it — Taste of Texas in Houston. So, Thompson reached out to the owner of the high-end steakhouse and later made a trip to Houston with the roommates in suits. Cinnamon is one of the few sold in a three-gallon tub, so in order to add it to their collection, the waiter fished out a broken one from a trash can.
Cinnamon has since been designated as one of five flavors in the prestigious S-tier, alongside Mint Chocolate Chip, Cookie Two Step, Cookies ‘n Cream Cone and Oatmeal Cream Pie.
Last summer, Thompson was in Waco playing disc golf with a friend and stopped by a popsicle shop afterward. While he was there, he noticed they had the flavor Blue Monster, so Thompson took his phone out and filmed a quick video.
“That’s one that we were looking for a while and haven’t seen since,” Thomspon said.
The furthest the group has gone to try a flavor was South Carolina. During a road trip through the Southeast before the start of school last August, Thompson and Wright-Eulitt stopped at a Walmart to buy matching wolf shirts when they found Black Walnut. Wright-Eulitt’s mother helped the group find four specialty flavors at the Magnolia Market in Waco.
“It’s been so fun to hang out with the guys and try ice cream,” Wright-Eulitt said. “I love ice cream, have always loved ice cream. My dad would always have the freezer stocked with ice cream when I was a kid, so it’s kind of been fun to always have ice cream in our freezer at home in college.”
It took two months to find the elusive, final flavor — Cake Batter. Finally, the group came across it at Chill Milkshake and Waffle Bar in College Station.
Instead of just trying the flavor on a random day, though, Thompson and the crew planned an epic finale. Thompson said he’s inspired by the work of content creator Isaiah Photo and made a video to see if Isaiah would join him in trying the final flavor since Thompson knew he lived in Texas. Isaiah’s sister saw their plea and forwarded it to her brother. In January, Thompson met up with Isaiah in Austin and the two shared Cake Batter and Tin Roof, which had just been re-released.
“We probably talked for an hour and it was a good time,” Thompson said.
The group’s videos have caught wind on campus. Wright-Eulitt said members of his men’s organization and other friends have stopped him to say they watched Thompson’s latest video.
Thompson said the average video takes him six hours to film, script and edit, a process done over multiple days. Wright-Eulitt shares a room with Thompson and says he’ll run into him working on a video from time to time.
“When you see someone on Instagram or TikTok or YouTube, you think it was easy for them or you can also think it’s impossible,” Wright-Eulitt said. “But seeing his journey has showed me if you want something and you put the work in, most of the time it will come. If your ideas are good, your content’s good and you work at it consistently, then it’ll work out.”
Soon, Thompson and his roommates will go their separate ways after May graduation. Thompson is going to pursue a full-time videography career and said he hopes to travel some this summer to try some of the top ice cream in different states.
“You can expect more ice cream stuff,” Thompson said. “When a new Blue Bell flavor comes out, we’re going to try it no matter what. That’s all still going to be happening.”