Owner Valerie Beck and her team of chocophile tour guides lead guests on walking tours of Chicago’s historical bakeries and chocolatiers, narrating the history of beloved sweets while walking an easy route through vistas of Chicago’s stunning architectural heritage. While snacking on samples of sweets, guests learn about chocolate’s storied history, the cupcake’s rise to prominence, and how to guess the flavor of filling inside Oompa Loompas by sight. Tours convene throughout Chicago’s many neighborhoods, giving guests a sneak peek into Chicago's signature confections, boutique shops, and mobile sweet-vending trucks. The chocolate or cupcake jaunts provide the perfect setting for a girls’ day out or bachelorette party, showing tour-goers the sweeter side of the city without getting caught in construction sites of shoddily built gingerbread houses.
Yogen Früz has an interesting answer for yogurt shops that simply top their swirls with fruit—they mix whole mangos, bananas, watermelon, and kiwis right in with the yogurt. These colorful, fresh creations boast low or no fat as well as a heaping helping of digestion-friendly probiotics and gluten-free goodness. Each flavor is crafted sans artificial flavorings, colors, gelatins, high-fructose corn syrups, or preservatives–all while maintaining gluten-free, kosher-certified status. Of course, customers of the shop—which has more than 1,300 locations in more than 35 countries—can still opt for a traditionally topped cup of yogurt or a früzion smoothie. The body bettering doesn’t stop there, as certain topping combinations from its signature früzion bar can even support cell membranes and veins, provide antacid and anti-inflammatory relief, or help prevent body aging, especially if bathed in.
Anointed as one of Oprah's Favorite Things in 2005, Moveable Feast's Deeply Fudgey brownies smother biters' bicuspids in moist, rich dark chocolate. The shop's husband-and-wife duo invented the recipe after hundreds of experiments, some of which resulted in mutant turtle-brownie hybrids who still slowly crawl the earth, surprising children at birthday parties and periodically bathing themselves in cups of milk.
With more than 700 locations, Jamba Juice proves to the masses that nutrition can be speedy and delicious. Since the beginning, the company?s product philosophy has revolved around choosing whole fruits and other natural ingredients over artificial flavorings, sweeteners, and preservatives. The menu is completely free of high-fructose corn syrup and trans fats, and it offers additional accommodations for vegan and gluten-free diets.
This naturalistic approach is fully realized in Jamba Juice's selection of smoothies. Made with 100% fruit juice, sherbet, and frozen yogurt, the frosty delights range from all-fruit smoothies such as peach perfection and strawberry whirl to more indulgent creamy treats, including peanut butter moo'd, an enticing blend of peanut butter, bananas, nonfat vanilla frozen yogurt, and milk chocolate.
For those with heartier appetites, steel-cut oats steep in soymilk before being enhanced with toppings such as apples, cinnamon, and brown-sugar crumble. The lunch hour presents protein-packed mini wraps, toasted bistro sandwiches and artesian flatbreads that pack only about 320?420 calories each.
On a sunny afternoon spent wandering amid The Berry House Shops, you see a bright flash of green out of the corner of your eye. Intrigued, you turn to stare at a green awning speckled with pink polka dots shading a bright pink door and decide to see what lies inside. The eye-catching decor may have drawn you in, but it’s The Latest Crave’s rows of cupcakes topped with creamy peaks of frosting, stacks of english toffee, and clusters of frosting shots that make you want to stay. Shop owners Elaine and Nancy craft these confections using their original recipes, which detail how to make both milk- and dark-chocolate toffees and cupcakes in a variety of sizes. More than two dozen cupcake flavors including such varieties as cookies 'n' cream and strawberry shortcake to key lime and peanut butter and jelly, rotate throughout the month, and additional seasonal flavors, such as pumpkin and gingerbread, make an appearance when their ingredients are freshest. Some of the cupcakes they create sound as extravagant as a limo made from dinosaur bones; witness the Jack-n-Jill, a milk-chocolate cupcake stuffed with a marshmallow and topped with a hardened layer of chocolate ganache. Even more innovative are the frosting shots—petite chocolate cups brimming with irish-cream, piña-colada, and marshmallow-infused buttercream frostings.