Chocolatier Genie Ranck, who has been selling chocolate for 15 years and opened The Chocolate Spike in 2003, concocts handmade comfits with a treasury of creamy chocolate, salted caramel, fruity creams, and assorted nuts. Ranck's caramel-nut spikes are made with chocolate caramel and a rotation of nuts such as pecans or hazelnuts for a treat as sweet as a lamb complimenting a grandmother. Two of these sweetmeats snuggle in the favorites box with five different truffles, including a Peace Rose truffle, two sea-salt caramel, a milk chocolate, and an extra-dark chocolate. A piece of St. Maeve–stout fudge tells a fellow pomegranate-fudge square tales of its raucous weekend with a group of almonds, causing a nearby sweet orange-blossom cream to blush and whisper with a pair of triple-chocolate creams. An assortment of solid white, milk, and dark chocolates and nonpareils finish off the confectionery cluster, ready for hiding in a personal stash or gifting to a favorite telemarketer.
Sweetie's tantalizes covetous taste buds with carefully crafted chocolate truffles, decadently dense cakes, and gift baskets that can turn a sworn enemy into a fumbling paramour. Eight delicately detailed truffles nestle in a tender red box waiting to be plucked from among their all-natural, handmade brethren and dropped onto the tongue of a beloved human or low-necked giraffe. Valentines with a penchant for keepsakes will coo over the collectable candy jar, which comes swollen with red-velvet cake and swirled with decorative ribbon. To ensure that the appropriate message is expressed, Sweetie's encloses a handmade Valentine's Day card, which can be personalized to express one's eternal love or share a one-sided knock-knock joke.
After a dozen years in the restaurant business, Roya Gharavi had an epiphany: instead of traveling far and wide to gather specialty ingredients and kitchen tools, why not bring those things to her? The idea took root; in 2000, she sold her restaurant, and the Gourmet Pantry was born. After outgrowing its first location, the business expanded into a second location in 2006, where Roya finally had the space to construct a kitchen and bring her dream of founding a cooking school to fruition. Today, the shop is stocked floor-to-ceiling with cookware and is equipped for cooking classes as well as a variety of special events such as wine tastings and cheese-eating contests.
Each Bloop Frozen Yogurt location keeps a lineup of frozen yogurt machines churning out 10–16 rotating flavors in nonfat, low-fat, and no-sugar-added forms—not to mention nondairy sorbet options such as watermelon and pink lemonade. Cups pile high with Godiva dark chocolate, cake batter, and real strawberry yogurt and a wide array of toppings such as M&Ms, gummy worms, and seasonal fruits. The frozen treat innovators encourage enthusiasts to submit their own outrageous flavor ideas in hopes that one day, wishes for a yogurt inspired by Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey can finally be fulfilled. Every Bloop cup of yogurt purchased provides a cup of clean drinking water to areas in need through the A Cup 4 A Cup initiative. So far, the Bloop chain has donated more than 42,000 cups, and a goal for each new store is to provide a new drinking well to a needy community.