A mixed-race family of eight are asking Blue Bell Ice Cream to change the name of a popular chocolate and vanilla ice cream flavor, The Great Divide, to be more inclusive.
Traci Schmidley, her husband, and their brood of six children were sitting down for an ice cream party at their Louisiana home to celebrate the end of a hard week, Schmidley wrote on Love What Matters.
“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,” Schmidley wrote.
After dishing out the dessert, Schmidley said her older son, 10, jokingly called the Great Divide flavor the Civil War.
“The line down the middle of the carton reminded him of the Mason Dixon line, and the name reminded him of a time in history when our nation appeared to be irrevocably divided. 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,” she wrote.
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Schmidley wrote that her son was not complaining or calling the name “racist,” he just “didn’t think the name ‘great divide’ was the best name for something as wonderfully unifying as Blue Bell ice cream.”
So Schmidley, a teacher who homeschools her children, saw a learning opportunity.
“We had a lot of great discussion about how despite the division at that time in our country’s history, how our very table, located in the Deep South, was reflective of how far we have come as a people,” she wrote. “I challenged the kids to come up with a different name that could capture the intent of Blue Bell ice cream but would reflect the remarkable progress our country has made.”
Within twenty minutes, the proud mom said two of her sons came up with a new name: Better Together.
Schmidley and her husband foster more children in addition to their six – two of whom were adopted from foster care — and they all have different skin colors, which prompted the kids’ new name.
“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. If we work together, we’re really powerful, and nothing can overcome it,” her sons wrote on Facebook.
“The sign on the wall reads: When you have more than you need build a longer table, not a higher fence.”
The Facebook post has been liked more than 25 thousand times and shared 12 thousand times.
Schmidley, who describes her family as being passionate about faith, education, and adoption, was shocked by the response.
“People are sending us gorgeous photos of their diverse families and communities from all over the world with #bettertogether,” she wrote.
Their viral story also attracted the attention of Blue Bell, who Schmidley tells Yahoo Lifestyle sent the kids a letter.
“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.”
Blue Bell did not immediately return a request for comment, but Joe Robertson, director of public relations at Blue Bell Creameries said to 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,” it probably won’t change the name.
“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!” the statement read.
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Though Schmidley is just pleased that their message can spread joy.
“The sign on the wall reads: When you have more than you need build a longer table, not a higher fence. We hope this article inspires you to embrace the unique diversity within your family and community and promote the idea and truth that we are all truly #bettertogether,” she wrote on Love What Matters.