The warm aroma of freshly baked waffle cones envelops every nook and cranny of Marble Slab Creamery, revving up guests’ senses with the promise of impending decadence. As the hand-rolled cones tan in their ovens, the store’s staff bustles about the premises whipping up fresh batches of super-premium ice cream in the on-site creamery and helping patrons select a flavor from a list of more than 50 options. This chef-driven dedication to gourmet ice cream began in 1983 with the company’s founding in Houston, Texas, when two French chefs were enlisted to create a recipe for Marble Slab Creamery’s signature sweet-cream ice cream using their culinary expertise.
Today, staffers utilize the frozen-slab technique of ice-cream architecture, scooping each customer’s choice of ice cream and mixins onto a chilled marble slab to mix the separate elements into one customized mélange. Though specializing in cone-based ice-cream treats, Marble Slab Creamery also offers a menu full of other scream-worthy confections including cakes, shakes, and ice cream cupcakes.
Founded by ice-cream enthusiasts Donald and Susan Sutherland in 1988, Cold Stone Creamery has grown to more than 1,400 locations across North America. Each day, the shop's scoopers mix up fresh batches of ice cream and sorbet, which are served by the scoop, piled high in sundaes, and blended into shakes. After customers choose their desired flavor, the staffers toss the chilly sustenance upon a slab of frozen granite and fold in a smorgasbord of candy and nuts to achieve the ideal ice-cream-to-add-in ratio. Customers can dream up their own creations or opt for a signature masterpiece, sampling one of more than 11.5 million possible flavor combinations, which still await a brave conqueror to unlock them all. To accommodate sweets cravings at celebrations, staff members also dish out premade treats, such as ice-cream cakes and baked goods.
Founded by ice-cream enthusiasts Burt Baskin and Irv Robbins in 1945, Baskin Robbins now serves tasty cold treats at more than 6,700 retail shops spread out in more than 50 countries. Customers glance through the glass at flavors of all colors and textures, including standard-bearers as well as the always-changing flavor of the month. Servers transform scoops into the classic banana split or a towering peanut-butter-cup sundae, decorated with hot fudge and Reese's peanut-butter sauce. Soft serve takes the form of cakes, parfaits, and 31 Below mix-in treats, and drinks such as strawberry-citrus Fruit Blast cool mouths with a sweet yet icy embrace. Baskin Robbins also offers ornate ice-cream cakes to celebrate an anniversary or successfully forging a college diploma.
Though the fruity, all-natural smoothies at Keva Juice may taste like an indulgence, they're all brimming with healthy antioxidants and vitamins. Staffers pack blenders with a healthy mix of fresh fruits and juices?including guava, mango, and raspberry juice?amped up with nonfat yogurts and low-fat sherbets. Each tempting smoothie can be supercharged with whey protein for an extra healthful boost or spiked with coffee or Red Bull to recharge each disposable cup's batteries.
This juice stand offers more than just smoothies, however. Guests can heap sprinkles, nuts, and whole-grain granola atop cups of self-serve frozen yogurt, available in such tempting flavors as wild strawberry, chocolate, dulce de leche, and original tart. Those who prefer dinner before dessert can opt for soft, warm gourmet pretzels stuffed with cheddar jalape?o or spinach with feta cheese.
Operating under the mantra Flavor Your Life, Bahama Buck's sends its patrons on a tropical holiday with every sip of its gourmet drinks. Island-inspired decor outfits each Bahama Buck's location, and the business's approach to flavor as an art form—with more than 90 flavors of shaved ice—carries over to its smoothies, which send creamy concoctions climbing through straws to rouse tasters with the zest of fresh fruit and juices. Hawaii's Kona coffee beans are used for Island House coffees, and island specialties, such as 100% natural juices, provide an afternoon pick-me-up without the pressure of negotiating with the intimidating children in charge of neighborhood lemonade stands.
Billed as "America's ice cream co-op," KaleidoScoops began doling out its signature hand-dipped ice cream at the turn of the millennium. The co-op, formed by a group of independent-minded former franchisees, now boasts several locations, reflecting the co-op's diversity with dozens of varied ice-cream flavors that include such sugarless selections as amaretto almond, chocolate mint, and coffee fudge. Customers can combine flavors in specialty sundaes and banana splits or shakes, malts, and KaleidoChill drinks. The shop's staff also creates supreme ice-cream cakes, and members of the KaleidoScoops' birthday club receive discounted cake rates and space-age party hats certified by NASA to prevent brain freeze.