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DU QUOIN — More than a year ago, shoppers saw the legendary Blue Bell label return to grocery store shelves.
Since ranchers Ray Gardner and David Pearl of Du Quoin Specialty Meats re-launched the Blue Bell name and began the process of reopening the old Du Quoin Packing Co. plant, they have almost doubled their line of products and the number of stores carrying it.
You can now find Blue Bell in more than 80 locations from Indiana to Cairo and soon, Du Quoin Specialty Meats will have its own retail location for Blue Bell fans to buy their favorite bologna, bacon, ham, salami and cheeses.
For almost 65 years, Blue Bell meats from Du Quoin were on kitchen tables and in lunchboxes throughout Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, Kentucky, and Alabama. The original owners, the Du Quoin Packing Co. closed in 1990.
Gardner and Pearl purchased the old packing plant on East Cole Street in 1991, right after the structure was gutted by fire.
Over the last 20 years, Gardner and Pearl have been working to reopen the plant as a production facility, and are getting closer to that goal. However, extreme weather last June ripped the roof from one of the buildings, significantly delaying its opening.
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By Len Wells of the Evansville Courier and Press.
After an absence of more than 20 years, Blue Bell bologna is back.
For more than 60 years, Blue Bell meat, a product of the DuQuoin Packing Co., had made its way into the lunchboxes and onto the dinner tables of countless homes throughout Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri and Alabama.
If you worked in the oil fields of Southern Illinois, chances are your lunchbox contained a Blue Bell bologna sandwich, a bag of Chesty potato chips and a Thermos of hot coffee. If you were a kid headed off to school, there was a pretty good chance that your Roy Rogers lunch box contained a Blue Bell bologna sandwich, a couple of iced windmill cookies and a bag of chips.
The Blue Bell brand disappeared in 1991 when the company filed for bankruptcy. A short time later, the facility went up in flames, ending a meat empire that was started by Jacob Naumer in 1924. In its heyday, the company employed as many as 450 people.
Now, thanks to a Lafayette, Ind., cattle rancher, the Blue Bell brand is making a comeback.
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DU QUOIN - A familiar label has been popping up in Southern Illinois grocery stores
and shoppers have taken notice.
For almost 65 years, Blue Bell meats from Du Quoin were on kitchen tables and in
lunchboxes throughout Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, Kentucky and Alabama.
Although the Du Quoin Packing Co. closed in 1990, ranchers Ray Gardner and David Pearl
have taken on the Blue Bell name. Their company, Du Quoin Specialty Meats,
reintroduced Blue Bell to the marketplace in late April.
The almost instant demand has been so great, they've had trouble keeping up.
"We weren't expecting it," Gardner said.