Cookies by Design distributes tasty, seasonal greetings in the form of gourmet cookie bouquets, specially crafted for holidays and festive occasions. Cookies weigh in at about 4 ounces each, and reach doorsteps or inflatable castles freshly baked and hand-decorated with detailed edibles that add imagination to each sugary bite. A creepy cast of characters, including witches, ghosts, and pumpkins, congregates inside Halloween arrangements, and Thanksgiving baskets host a healthy harvest of vibrant leaves and sunflowers. Christmas baskets soar to destinations to help celebrate the holidays or successful avoidance of jury duty.
Looking for a fresh turn in their respective careers, Joe and Dawn Taylor planted the first grapes at Sleepy Creek Vineyards in 2002. In 2007 they opened the winery, where they sell their wines and swap stories with visitors. Amid 10 acres of expansive grapevines, a timber-frame barn houses the winery and tasting room. While sipping Sleepy Creek's varietals, guests can browse the gift shop, peruse the upstairs art gallery, and sample local cheeses from Ludwig Farmstead Creamery and Ropp Jersey Cheese. Above the winery, bed-and-breakfast-style accommodations allow visitors to relax amid the countryside and eavesdrop on rumors spreading through the grapevines outside.
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.
Perky’s Pizza rustles up a variety of traditional and imaginative pizzas for famished families. With the family combo meal, banqueting broods choose one large signature pizza from Perky's Pizza's doughy roster, relieving a meat-masticating hankering with the double-cheeseburger deluxe, loaded with crispy bacon, hearty beef, and zesty barbecue sauce, or floating away on the Maui Wowie, which features chicken and sweet pineapple basking in a beach of red sauce. Choosy chowhounds point their noses toward the also-included one-topping pizza, selecting a meat, vegetable, or fat-free mineral to add sustenance. Six breadsticks take a dip in garlic or cinnamon before joining the culinary crew, and a troop of 12 chicken wings marches into position while chanting fight songs before being defeated by mercenary molars. Like bookends, a family-sized garden salad and dessert support the meal on either end.
In 1988, Auntie Anne's founders Anne and Jonas Beiler purchased a Pennsylvania farmers'-market stand, where they experimented with dough until they created a pretzel that seemed to strike the perfect chord with their customers. Today, at their more than 1,350 locations worldwide, the pretzel makers still hand roll the original recipe but have added to the menu with inventive options such as the eight signature dipping sauces. The team constantly explores new uses for the pretzel dough, such as wrapping it around hot dogs and slicing it into bite-size nuggets. To transform the snack into a meal, they accompany it with specialty drinks, including frozen-lemonade desserts.
When not twisting dough, Auntie Anne's team partners with the national charitable organization Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, which raises funds to fight childhood cancer. Auntie Anne's also reaches out to the community through fundraising opportunities.
There's plenty of room for storing popsicles within Marco’s Pizza's freezer, as the chefs opt for fresh ingredients when crafting the pizzeria staples on their menu. Their hands turn white with flour as they roll out dough for classic and thin-crust pizzas each day, all while breathing in the savory wafts of tomato sauce bubbling over a flame. To create the special-recipe sauce, the chefs assemble imported spices and three breeds of vine-ripened tomatoes. A blend of three cheeses, also never frozen or preserved between the pages of a thick book, top slathers of sauce and provide a soft bed for toppings such as steak, feta, and banana peppers.