It was a stifling, sultry day in Houma, Louisiana, when Dave (aka "Seprock") tasted his first snoball—a New Orleans–style frozen treat of soft shaved ice drenched in sweet syrup. Dazzled by its delicate texture and rich flavor, Dave became determined to bring the treat back to his hometown. With his wife's blessing, he eventually opened his own snoball shop in a cheerful plaza in Hunter's Creek. Today, Seprock’s Snow is a kaleidoscope of color. Bright walls surround vibrantly decorated tables, and servers adorn icy snoballs with a rainbow of fruity syrups. Dave and his staff also stuff their treats full of creamy ice cream to add an extra dimension of goodness and help patrons sneak dairy past airport security. For colder days, they supplement their frozen treats and wash customers' tongues clean of their red, blue, and green color with steaming coffee, hot cocoa, and apple cider.
On a warm August day in 1938, a father and son unveiled the first sample of what was to become Dairy Queen, selling 1,600 samples on the first day, a feat as unheard of as a dragon that breathes ice. Its ensuing prolific expansion was fueled by its frozen treats, which propelled the dessert shop from 100 stores in 1947 to 1,446 in 1950. Today, their dessert recipes remain largely unchanged, and Dairy Queen has added hearty grilled hamburgers, hot dogs, and fried chicken to its menu. Dairy Queen's enormous dessert menu boasts treats ranging from soft-serve cones and blizzards filled with cookies to takeaway ice-cream sandwiches and cakes.
At Chocolate Kingdom, cacao seeds metamorphose into trees and then transform into chocolate confections before visitors' very eyes. The kingdom, which does triple duty as a museum, factory, and candy shop, guides guests from the cacao-tree greenhouse to the chocolate river to the assembly line during tours, which are led by a Chocolate Kingdom tour guide. Inside the factory, old-fashioned machinery churns out treats, including personalized chocolate bars. At the end of the line rests the candy shop, where mountains of truffles, trays of sugar-crusted cocoa beans, and beds of rainbow-sprinkled candy line marble counters.
The chefs at Sol de Borinquen Bakery Restaurant & Deli simmer, bake, and grill authentic Puerto Rican dishes that transport tastebuds to more tropical locales. Towers of mofongo accompany steaks and shrimp, while flans, pastries, and cakes satisfy sweet cravings. Additionally, Puerto Rican?style sub sandwiches come stuffed with savory slices of meat and cheese.
In the outdoor mall, tables and stages stand in a ring under the open sky or beneath white tents. People drift around the circle, clutching cocktails in plastic cups and eye-catching Vietnamese sandwiches on their paper plates as they spy more must-grab food-and-drink samples from the area's best hotels. Though it started 26 years ago, Bacchus Bash hasn't drifted from its original aim to let the populace revel in the offerings of local hospitality establishments while funding high-school and university students studying in the industry. Since its inception, the festival has grown from 20 vendor booths with one entertainment stage to encompass 100 booths helmed by upscale local restaurants and bars alongside six entertainment stages.
Among the must-experience flavors of the fest is the tongue-wilting bananas foster by Chef Jean Louis of the Royal Plaza Hotel, which has won Best Dessert at the fest for the past 10 years. Other restaurants' teams showcase flavors such as American and Vietnamese barbecue, which are up for fest awards such as Best Original Drink and Most Interactive Booth. Live music from talents that include local barefoot folk singer Alan Byrd and country-western rock quintet Think Big streams from the entertainment stages, as well as the dueling ivories of two pianists from Howl at the Moon. The organizing party, Central Florida Hotel & Lodging Foundation, further immerses guests in its services with a travel, tourism, and dining silent auction, offering up more than 200 prizes to further raise funds for its students.
Touting more than 80 flavors of low-calorie, flavor-packed frozen yogurt, Tutti Frutti earned a feature on CNBC and has continued to expand since opening its first shop in 2007. Inside each store, self-service yogurt machines unleash velvety-soft yogurt into accommodating cups or empty purses. Their constantly rotating flavors include royal red velvet, pomegranate, or choco-peanut-butter. Most flavors fall within the range of 20–25 calories per ounce, with dairy-free options and no-sugar-added concoctions also available. A toppings bar allows eaters to further customize yogurt creations with a spoonful of fresh fruits or a sprinkling of nuts. Their flavors contain ample amounts of probiotics, known for potential health benefits that may include strengthening immune systems and lowering cholesterol and blood pressure. Organic probiotic yogurt for dogs is available in four flavors. In addition, Tutti Frutti offers a selection of soy-based yogurts as a non-dairy choice for vegans and partners with Nutrition & Education International to donate 10% of soy-product proceeds to help fight hunger in Afghanistan.