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Customers Give Warm Welcome To Blue Bell

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Call Texans proud, arrogant, or perhaps simply stubborn. Either way, loyalty looks different here. "Yes, exactly right," exclaimed Alexis Dennard in downtown Dallas on Monday. "We have to support Texas business," as she proceeded to joke with friends about whether the prospect of Strawberry or Butter Pecan would warrant to trip to south Texas.

Blue Bell's summer hiatus followed a listeria contamination crisis that was linked to three deaths. The company's products were pulled from store shelves and three factories were shuttered.

"I feel like I'm cheating on Blue Bell with other ice cream," added Alex Crutkaew, as she polished off a cone filled with another brand. But, she also insists that she will give the Texas based creamery another chance.

"If it were not local, would it matter in terms of how much Dallas cared? How much Texas cared? Yes! Yes!" exclaimed Daniel Howard, marketing professor at SMU's Cox School of Business. "There is no doubt about it. Brand loyalty is, in part, locally based."

Howard specializes in consumer behavior and is confident that local consumers would feel differently if it was a "company based in New Jersey."

But, since it isn't, customers quickly cleaned out the freezers at south Texas supermarkets.

"I only know it because I saw it on the news this morning," said Raquel Castaneda, visiting Dallas from Chicago. She's never tasted Blue Bell. But -- seeing Texans' reactions to his return? -- now she wants to. And, she said, she is not discouraged by the company's past troubles. "No, no, that doesn't concern me at all -- it's ice cream!" said Castanaeda. "Sounds good to me."

And while marketing experts give the company high marks for convincing customers that they were forthright and took responsibility, the bottom line, they say, is Texans want Texas companies to be successful. "People deserve a second chance. Companies deserve a second chance," said Howard. "Everyone's rooting for them. But they better get it right. And I expect that they will."

Still, deliveries to North Texas are still anywhere from two to four weeks away. "I'm gonna try it," insisted Castaneda. "South Texas, how far is that from here?"

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