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 U.S. 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 and Jerry have also operated with a commitment to improve the quality of life locally, nationally, and internationally. They practice 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 Ben & Jerry?s 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.
Back in the ’20s, the Christen family introduced its recipes to Philadelphia with the opening of the Swiss Pastry Shop. The shop operated for decades but closed in 2007, causing hazelnut-withdrawal symptoms for loyal customers, such as the Hausman family. Thankfully, several years ago, Jim Hausman convinced the shop's pastry chef, Donna Canzanese, to keep the ovens burning and opened Swiss Haus to carry on Philadelphia’s butter, cream, and sugar traditions.
Today, at Swiss Haus, you’ll be treated to classic European recipes that have been Philadelphia institutions for more than 85 years. These are the cakes of Old-World lore, whose crumbs marked the way home through deep, dark forests. The hazelnut sponge cake, for example, with thick swiss vanilla buttercream and swiss-chocolate shavings, mingles with pastry compatriots: rum cake with vanilla-almond cream and mocha cake with swiss mocha buttercream and crushed cashew nuts. If your pastry ambitions run smaller, Swiss Haus also has a comfortable, welcoming café area where you can enjoy a cup of coffee or tea paired with one of the smaller pastries, such as the Mozart––a hazelnut-meringue treat with chocolate buttercream, cake, and white-chocolate mousse––or cookies, of which there are 30 varieties.
After Vernon Rudolph acquired a closely guarded yeast-raised Krispy Kreme Doughnuts recipe from a New Orleans pastry chef, he shared his appreciation for delectable disks by opening shop in 1937 and selling the first Krispy Kremes to grocery stores. The wafting aroma of glazed Krispy Kreme Doughnuts increased demand for the sweet treats and caused Rudolph to redesign his building's layout to include a walkup window, Rudolph was able to sell them directly to any passing customer who demanded a snack. Later, he joined forces with equipment engineers, creating baking equipment that guaranteed uniform shape and dough consistency.
Rudolph's departure to a pastry-filled afterlife in 1973 did not stop Krispy Kreme from expanding into a global sensation and continuing to innovate. In recent years, the company enhanced the treat-retrieving experience by introducing a Hot Light that, when illuminated, indicates when Krispy Kreme Doughnuts are fresh off the conveyor belt.
A local institution, Rita's Water Ice is a beloved tradition throughout the Philadelphia area and the nearby Jersey Shore. From mid-February though mid-October, the South Street outpost of this chain dishes out refreshing water ices made on site each day. Living up to the motto "Ice, Custard, Happiness," Rita's serves sweet treats like water and cream ices, sundaes, custards and various gelato to locals and tourists trying to beat the summer heat. While the brand boasts more than 70 delicious flavors, including guava, chocolate peanut butter and green apple, only select varieties are offered each day. Patrons can even sign up for Cool Alerts to receive a text message, email or both when their favorite flavor is on the menu on South Street.
Taking to heart the idea that three is a magic number, the owners of Mugshots CoffeeHouse dedicate themselves to a triple bottom-line business model that supports people, profit, and the planet. Organic direct trade beans constitute the whole of the steamy coffee and espresso drinks served by the baristas, and locally raised, earth-friendly foodstuffs comprise each hot sandwich found on the menu. Much of the money generated by the brisk bean trade goes toward charities of both local and international origin. When not welcoming community organizations for meetings or fundraisers, the venue shows off its artsy side with film nights, open mics, and staged readings of VCR instructions.
The pastry chefs at Gone Cupcaking Across America share a wealth of gourmet cupcake experience with aspiring dessert artisans, in flavors that include whisked buttercream atop classic vanilla, chocolate, and red-velvet cake bases, and more exotic choices such as Grand Marnier or peaches 'n' cream. At lessons, students learn piping techniques, how to make frosting, and how to make iced flowers without the hassle of fertilizing regular flowers with milk and butter.