Candy Bear Lane's 120-year-old building houses hundreds of varieties of sweet-teeth-cosseting confections. Specialty 8” Candy Bears— plush teddy sentinels stuffed with 30 pieces of saccharine goodness such as Tootsie Rolls, Jolly Ranchers, and crystallized pieces of Shirley Temple's laughter ($12.95)— guard sweet treasures and come with a bag of stuffing that can be used to repack droopy ursine companions after their sugary fillings have been devoured. Line a shelf with bags, boxes, or bars of candy ($1.00—$1.50 each), slow down chewing speed with saltwater taffy ($0.10 each), or acquire a Technicolor tongue with 21 colors of M&Ms ($9.99/lb.), which pour out of a towering multitube dispenser.
So established is Circle K Midwest that even brand-new vehicles recognize what its red-and-white logo stands for—fuel, snacks, and everything else a car might need to keep powering down the road with its driver. Circle K's story starts back in 1951, when Fred Hervey bought three Kay's Food Stores in El Paso, Texas. Under his guidance, these three little shops grew into the more than 3,000 convenience stores that crouch on our nation's street corners today.
After rolling up to a Circle K, drivers can pump their faithful roadsters full of high-octane fuel and send them skipping through a car wash to experience the cleansing touch of Blue Coral Beyond Green and Rain-X products. Then it's time to step inside the air-conditioned shop for a peek at the provisions. Rows of sodas hibernate behind glass doors, and snacks, candy, and their ATM guardians stand boldly out in the open. Some Circle Ks also offer the Take Away Fresh Café, which presents an appetizing lineup of healthy road fare including sandwiches, fruit cups, and fresh-cut vegetables. Drivers can gear up for a long drive with premium coffees or enjoy a cold Polar Pop, whose specially formulated cup keeps drinks colder thanks to the family of tiny snowmen trapped in its foam walls.
The Gomez family members first chose to share their family-style Mexican cooking with the Chicagoland area in 1992, founding Los Arcos Mexican Grill. Currently, the family's restaurant empire includes four locations, each of which shares a similar dedication to Mexican and Tex-Mex comfort foods. The chefs make all of the tamales and soups in-house, rounding out the selection with a traditional assortment of tacos, burritos, tortas, fajitas, tostadas, chimichangas, and more. However, they also demonstrate their willingness to create inventive new dishes. This is readily apparent in the menu's signature item: the hollowed out half of a grilled pineapple filled with pineapple pieces, onion, red peppers, jalapeños, and either shrimp and octopus or chicken and skirt steak.
Specializing in olives, cheese, and other Mediterranean products, Olives-4-You's southern French family also loves to offset the quaint shop's aromas of fresh-baked bread with the warm scent of fresh chocolate. The two-hour Death by Chocolate cooking class teaches students how to concoct a fatally fudgy arsenal of confections for special occasions, holidays, and corporate slumber parties. By the time pupils depart the Mediterranean market's tiled floors and brick archways, they'll have conjured a variety of chocolate-based recipes that might include yummy truffles, enticing Bailey's chocolate mousse, and a molten-chocolate lava cake powerful enough to fossilize a small Italian island.
Adi Mor opened the first Garden Fresh Market in 1980, selling fresh produce from a 1,000-square-foot lot in Skokie, which he would stock by taking 2 a.m. trips to Chicago's South Water market. Today, Garden Fresh Market sprawls over six suburban locations, where fresh produce from apples to zucchinis is still procured daily.
Grocery items range from fresh meat from Midwest famers to a wide selection of ethnic foods and national brands. The deli slices meats and cheeses both domestic and imported, and house-made seasonal salads and main courses make bringing dinner home easier than stealing it from a neighbor's windowsill. Many of the market's online recipes have even made it onto NBC5, giving its cooks their share of 15 minutes of fame.