It was 1978. A college dropout and a failed medical-school applicant had just brought together their combined life savings to rent an old gas station. Their plan was to resurrect the empty station and open their own restaurant. Their specialty—ice cream. So begins the story of legendary entrepreneurs Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, who are better known across the globe as Ben & Jerry. Their small, old-fashioned ice-cream parlor eventually became a Burlington, Vermont, favorite, and before long, shops popped up all over the United States and in 25 other countries. Their brand easily attracted customers—homemade ice cream churned from wholesome, natural ingredients and blended into creative flavors. Some of their popular scoops include Cherry Garcia, Chunky Monkey, and Coffee Caramel Buzz. Since infusing their first rich and creamy batches of ice cream with natural chunks of fruit, nuts, candies, and cookies, Ben & Jerry's has also operated with a commitment to improve the quality of life locally, nationally, and internationally. The company practices sustainable food production and business practices that respect the earth and environment. Ben & Jerry’s cartons are made from FSC-certified paper, which comes from forests that are managed for the protection of wildlife, and waste from its plants generates energy to power farms. The company works tirelessly to reduce its carbon emissions; it strongly encourages customers to eat their ice cream in the darkest dark.
Cake artist Sonya Washington has seen a lot in the last 30 years. She left behind a corporate position to pursue her confectionary dream, and even spent nine months homeless while working to save her fledgling sweet shop. But all those trials are behind her, and they’ve paid off.
With educational certificates in cake decoration and pastry design, Sonya and her business have become so successful that she gives away more than 10,000 mini cupcakes annually, either to charity or as samples. She trains new generations of sweets makers with daily classes, which cover topics including baking for couples, advanced cupcake creation, and how to spot counterfeit buttercream frosting that is actually just gold. While waiting to pick up cake pops in gluten-free or sugar-free configurations, patrons press their noses against glass to peer at Sonya’s cakes, which have included some shaped like guitars, cars, and hats.
Josie's glacial treats don't include high-fructose corn syrup or any artificial sweeteners, and a do-it-yourself spirit gives enterprising sweet-seekers free rein over the composition and measurement of their yogurt compound, which costs $0.36 per ounce. A cavalcade of flavors dances before eager eyes and taste receptors. Flavors cover the gamut from basics such as chocolate and vanilla to out-there tastes such as cappuccino and root-beer float. Mix and match flavors and toppings to create one-of-a-kind masterpieces that will forever remain a mystery once all the evidence is gastronomically destroyed. Adorn a chocolate-cheesecake treasure with almond for a nut-tastic treat, or sample the pumpkin pie with splotches of margarita to honor the pilgrims' first Cancun Thanksgiving.
Elixir Organic Cafe expertly crafts its housemade fare with 95% organic ingredients, including succulent meats free from hormones, nitrates, and artificial preservatives. A dozen burger designs bedeck nine types of patties—enough for each player on a baseball team to pad his glove with a different kind of patty—including turkey, eggplant, and grass-fed beef. The eatery tailor-makes its meals to satisfy a range of appetites, from those of strict meat eaters to those of faithful vegans and gluten-free dieters. More than 10 sandwiches come in hot, cold, and panini form, further solidifying Elixir's reputation for a culinary range as wide as a piece of taffy stuck to two racecars traveling in opposite directions. Expert bakers churn out an array of decadent desserts, such as cherry-dotted black-forest cake and vegan and gluten-free carrot cake. The cafe's multigrain pancakes and eggs benedicts make for a wholesome breakfast, and creamy smoothies and fresh-pressed vegetable and fruit juices packed with vitamins wash down the nutrient-rich dishes.
At The MadHouse Coffee's two locations, baristas craft hot and cold coffees and teas and serve them up alongside made-to-order sandwiches and freshly baked pastries. Patrons can sip on a peanut-butter-infused Monkey Mocha between bites of the Island of Capri sandwich, full of creamy mozzarella, tomatoes, and oregano hugged by two slices of focaccia bread. The MadHouse Coffee also offers a selection of desserts such as tiramisu, which guests can nibble as they take in the vibrantly remixed pieces of artwork on tables, walls, and employees’ foreheads.