Uniquely Arkansas – a yearning for Yarnell’s


Cone and get it!
It’s ice cream season in The Natural State. And no ice cream is more Arkansas than Yarnell’s.

Yes, the Searcy-based business — founded by Ray Yarnell in 1932 and family-owned until 10 years ago — was bought by Schulze & Burch Biscuit Company out of Chicago in 2011, when Yarnell’s finances hit a rocky road.

But Yarnell’s location, much of its workforce and all its beloved recipes remain the same. So does the company’s mission, says Director of Sales Mitch Evans.

“Our consumers have a Southern palate, and we work to provide a type of product that meets the demand of our customers,” Evans says about ice cream enthusiasts in Arkansas, as well as Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Louisiana, Mississippi and Kentucky. 

Evans, who has been with the company for 38 years, describes working for Yarnell’s as a cream job.

“The part that I enjoy the most about ice cream, and why I’ve stayed in the business so long, is that I’ve never handed a cup, cone or carton of ice cream that I didn’t get a smile back. It’s a product that people enjoy, and when they eat it, they think back to birthday parties or when they were home-churning it.”

That explains the popularity of the brand’s Homemade Vanilla, which Evans describes as “a richer product with lots of egg yolk in it.” He says the flavor “is by far our No. 1 seller.

“And then our second best-selling SKU is ice cream sandwiches. … One of the things we pride ourselves on is that the cookie is going to be crunchy. We don’t want a soggy cookie; we don’t want our cookie to stick to your fingers or not have that crunch.”

In addition to a classic flavor lineup — which includes everything from Homemade Strawberry, Ozark Black Walnut and Homemade Chocolate to Chewy Brownie, Butter Pecan and Cookie Dough — Yarnell’s releases feature/seasonal flavors several times a year. And here’s the scoop on this summer’s varieties: Available for a limited time are Yarnell’s Praline Pecan and Lemon Ice Box Pie.

Though he enjoys the sweet taste-testing perks of his job, Evans’ all-time favorite flavor hasn’t changed.

“I’m a Homemade Vanilla guy,” he says with a chuckle.
“I was born and raised in Arkansas, so I tend to follow with the rest of us.”

Uniquely Arkansas is a recurring spotlight on something special in our state. Have a fun suggestion for a feature?
Email jennifer.cia@aeci.com.