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.
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.
Gwen Willhite founded Cookies by Design in 1983, when an unsatisfying brainstorming session about gift ideas led her to ponder one question: why should flowers and sweets remain separate? Her solution was to design the cookie bouquet, where custom, hand-decorated cookies are displayed on sticks and arranged like flowers in gift baskets. Her invention quickly became a popular gift among locals, particularly those allergic to real blooms or too bashful to look at naked cookies.
Twenty-five years later, there are more than 200 Cookies by Design locations across the country. Each shop's team of bakers creates cookie baskets with a degree of care that matches Willhite's original vision, decorating and arranging sweet shapes for birthdays, holidays, and any other special occasion.