Mixed-race family asks Blue Bell to change name of The Great Divide ice cream

(Photo: Facebook/Traci Schmidley)
(Photo: Facebook/Traci Schmidley)

A group of diverse and adorable kids from Coushatta, La., noticed an outdated and dividing detail in the name of an ice cream flavor. They are now asking for the name to be changed.

Traci Schmidley and her husband have six children, and they foster even more. Two of their six children were adopted from foster care. Although their family is mixed race, Schmidley tries to avoid those types of labels. “I really don’t like to call our family mixed, interracial, or use any of those labels,” she tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “We are just a family. Every family is unique and for many people, love makes a family more than biology does.”

Love is what encouraged her to throw an impromptu ice cream party for her family a few days ago. “We always buy Blue Bell, and this time we chose the flavor The Great Divide, which has chocolate on one half and vanilla on the other half,” she wrote in an article on Love What Matters.

Her oldest son, Isak, noticed the name and said that he didn’t like it. The 10-year-old commented that The Great Divide flavor should be called the “Civil War” flavor. “I asked him what made him call it that, and he explained because chocolate was on one side and vanilla was on the other side, and because of the name The Great Divide, he was reminded of a time when white and black people were divided,” she says. “I asked him, ‘But why the Civil War?’ And he said the line down the middle made him think of the Mason-Dixon line. We studied American history last year, and he was very interested in the military strategy aspects of the Civil War especially, so he may have just had the Civil War on his brain.” That said, this divide is not something he sees every day. “He looked at our table and saw a mixture of both black and white people, not divided on one side or another like in the ice cream but gathered around the table together.”

Schmidley tells Yahoo Lifestyle that Isak “wasn’t angry or upset, he was laughing and just thought it was a strange name for that flavor of ice cream.”

Thus began a family conversation about “how white and black people are so much more united today as a result of the hard work and sacrifices of great civil rights leaders. We used our own table to represent the change in unity in our country,” Schmidley says. Schmidley, who homeschools her children, saw a “creative thinking” opportunity and asked the children if they could “capture Blue Bell’s original intent for the name (that families were divided over their love for chocolate or vanilla ice cream) but come up with something that is also reflective of how united our nation is today.”

Isak, his brother Kaleb, 8, and their friend Jayden, 11, got to work and within 20 minutes they had come up with an alternative name: Better Together. “One of the boys explained it well. ‘Well, really mom, for families that enjoy different favorite flavors, the flavors really are better together in one carton, because everyone can be happy.’ He also explained how the new name reflects both our family and our country; that we really are all better and stronger when we are together, not when we are in separate ‘containers,’” she wrote on Love What Matters.

Interracial family to Blue Bell: Ice cream needs new name

This interracial family had a sweet suggestion for Blue Bell Ice Cream: The flavor “The Great Divide” could use a new name.UPDATE: Blue Bell tells Humankind, "We love the idea of 'better together' and especially the thoughtful sentiment behind it. We love hearing from our customers, especially kids. We were amazed when we read the letter, by their thoughtfulness and their compassion for all people, and we are humbled by their love of our ice cream."

Posted by Humankind Stories on Thursday, June 14, 2018

In a video, Kaleb says, “I thought a new name could be ‘Better Together,’ because it will make everyone happy and also in our family, everyone, no matter our color, are all better together as well.” Jayden added, “If we work together, we’re really powerful, and nothing can overcome it.”

To The Makers of Blue Bell Ice Cream:My name is Traci Schmidley. Two of my sons and one of their friends wanted to…

Posted by Traci Schmidley on Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The three young namers, of course, wanted to share their idea with Blue Bell and drafted a letter to the company, which their mom posted on Facebook. They started by praising the ice cream makers and then went into their issue with the name. “We think some people might misunderstand the name and think the name the Great Divide is about people and the division that exists in our world because of different skin colors,” they wrote. “Isak and Kaleb have lighter skin and Jayden has darker skin. But Isak and Kaleb also have a brother and sister adopted from foster care who have dark skin as well. We are all our own color and own flavor and there is no divide between us. We think we are all delicious in our own ways. So, we have a suggestion for a new name for your chocolate and vanilla ice cream flavor: BETTER TOGETHER!!

“We think having a big bucket of Better Together chocolate and vanilla on dinner tables across the country will make our families and communities stronger than ever!”

The post has been shared 12 thousand times and has 25 thousand likes. Commenters are sharing photos of their diverse yet #bettertogether families.

Blue Bell also saw the story. “They replied online and sent the kids a letter and some gift certificates,” Schmidley tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “They were incredibly encouraging and supportive. They loved the message and complimented the children.”

Joe Robertson, director of public relations at Blue Bell Creameries, tells Yahoo Lifestyle, “We were amazed when we read the letter, by their thoughtfulness and their compassion for all people, and we are humbled by their love of our ice cream. We are so impressed by them and commend Traci for providing the environment where an important conversation like this can take place.” Although the company loves the idea of “Better Together,” especially “the thoughtful sentiment behind it,” it won’t be changing the name anytime soon, and it promises that the message behind The Great Divide is only about satisfaction. “We created Great Divide so that families didn’t have to choose between two favorites but could enjoy both Homemade Vanilla and Dutch Chocolate in one container!”

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