In 1988, Auntie Anne's founders Anne and Jonas Beiler purchased a Pennsylvania farmers'-market stand, where they experimented with dough until they created a pretzel that seemed to strike the perfect chord with their customers. Today, at their more than 1,350 locations worldwide, the pretzel makers still hand roll the original recipe but have added to the menu with inventive options such as the eight signature dipping sauces. The team constantly explores new uses for the pretzel dough, such as wrapping it around hot dogs and slicing it into bite-size nuggets. To transform the snack into a meal, they accompany it with specialty drinks, including frozen-lemonade desserts.
When not twisting dough, Auntie Anne's team partners with the national charitable organization Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, which raises funds to fight childhood cancer. Auntie Anne's also reaches out to the community through fundraising opportunities.
Cupcake'm Cafe invites customers to customize their cupcakes by picking a flavor, a filling, and a type of icing. Visitors can create a variety of gourmet flavors including key-lime pie, S'mores Galore, Triple Berry Blast with real berry chunks in the icing, and black forest with shaved chocolate slices and a cherry on top. They can then munch on their massive cupcakes and relax in the cafe or surf the Internet on free WiFi. In addition to its namesake treat, Cupcake'm Cafe also serves sandwiches, bagels, and muffins.
When the original Philly Soft Pretzel Factory location had a line out the door, its founders knew they had a hit on their hands. That was in 1998; today, over 100 franchise locations serve their special-recipe soft pretzels. Each chewy treat is hand twisted, baked fresh, and served hot from the oven into the customer's waiting hands, or mouth if they're really hungry. Pretzels can be topped with traditional salt, or spiced up with garlic or sesame seeds, while a selection of dipping sauces ranging from cheddar cheese to sweet chocolate provide layers of dunking flavor. And for those who prefer their baked goods meaty, dough-wrapped dogs and cheesesteak-filled pretzels are available.
Like a cookie godmother, Missy Hintze transforms humble ingredients into taste bud-pleasing royalty with original recipes and a wave of her bakery wand. More than two-dozen cookie ($10 a dozen in-store), cupcake, and brownie varieties ($1+) line the shelves, with favorites such as snickerdoodles and frosted sugar cookies mingling with newcomers such as the toffee-and-chocolate-filled Original Ugly Cookie and crispy treat tucked under a peanut butter and chocolate blanket. Sugar-seekers can also opt to fill large orders with an assortment of cakes ($30) and cookie gift boxes ($15+).