Before teaming up in 1953, Burt Baskin and Irv Robbins were seasoned business owners with their own ice-cream shops. The words “unusual varieties” shone high above each shop, signaling their respective owners’ passion for anything but an ordinary dessert experience. When the two got together, it was natural that they’d adopt the theme of “31 flavors,” one for each day of the month. Since then, Baskin-Robbins has introduced more than 1,000 flavors and opened shops with more than 5,800 franchise owners worldwide. Even their little pink tasting spoon has become a staple as a way to make flavor browsing an event by allowing guests to try specialties without paying cash or chicken-based trade for the privilege.
Thanks to The Ice Cream Social, dessert lovers no longer need to roll unsuspecting dairy cows down ski slopes to get their hands on frozen treats. Serving homemade treats from a mobile ice-cream parlor, the company enlivens events with hard-to-find flavors. Besides banana oreo and s'mores varieties, the scoopers serve uncommon varieties of shaved ice, such as cannoli, green apple, and Mountain Dew. Dessert lovers need not commission the cart for their backyard barbecue, though. The Ice Cream Social offers home delivery of one-of-a-kind treats.
On a warm August day in 1938, a father and son unveiled the first sample of what was to become Dairy Queen, selling 1,600 samples on the first day, a feat as unheard of as a dragon that breathes ice. Its ensuing prolific expansion was fueled by its frozen treats, which propelled the dessert shop from 100 stores in 1947 to 1,446 in 1950. Today, their dessert recipes remain largely unchanged, and Dairy Queen has added hearty grilled hamburgers, hot dogs, and fried chicken to its menu. Dairy Queen's enormous dessert menu boasts treats ranging from soft-serve cones and blizzards filled with cookies to takeaway ice-cream sandwiches and cakes.
Wide World of Bagels uses traditional bagel-making techniques that have been perfected and practiced by passionate owners Elliot and Scott since 1999. Choose from plain, sesame, poppy, onion, cinnamon raisin, pumpernickel, egg, rye, blueberry, garlic, whole wheat, eight-grain, and the everything bagel, which is a welcome alternative to other bagel shops' nothing bagels, created by kettle-boiling air and pipedreams. Hand-select a dozen stalwart bageley companions to compliment a tub of creamy store-made schmear and finally complete the circular union of flavor and nutriment. Stop by Wide World of Bagels and gaze through the cavernous aperture of a fresh-baked bagel to reveal the light at the end of the chewy tunnel.
It's always flattering when your dessert is the party's favorite. Carousel Cakes—and its bite-size offshoot, Cupcakes by Carousel—knows this feeling well. The bakeries' creative confections have received commendations from every corner of the media, from Time Out New York and InStyle to The View and, perhaps most notably, Oprah, who featured their red-velvet cake in O Magazine and named their blue-velvet cake one of Oprah's Favorite Things in 2012. "Gayle fell hard for this blue velvet cake with cream cheese icing and sugar snowflakes," the media icon gushed. "Just add coffee, milk, or a flute of champagne." The treats also sweeten meals at more than 1000 restaurants, including Zabar's and the American Museum of Natural History in New York and Aldo & Gianni Ristorante and Sear Restaurant in Closter, New Jersey.
As a sister company to the family bakery that Martin Lefkowitz opened in 1965, Cupcakes by Carousel specializes in handheld versions of the treats that won all this acclaim. Besides a mini adaptation of the famous red-velvet cake, the staff creates confections such as the Curious George—a vanilla cake filled with banana custard and topped with peanut butter buttercream frosting and chocolate ganache—and its version of Hostess’s Pink Snowball. All the shop's cakes and pies are certified kosher, and staff can even fill up glasses with swirls of their famous frostings and toppings for clients who like their cupcakes sans cake. Cupcakes by Carousel also lends its hand in local communities. Recently, the Englewood shop raised money for girls' education in developing nations through the nonprofit organization She's The First.
What began as a traditional German konditorei nearly 80 years ago has transformed a lot—by changing its name, adding an espresso machine, and hiring French Culinary Institute grad Cristina Nastasi as pastry chef—but when it comes to the essentials, not much has changed. Rudy's Bakery & Cafe still packs its gleaming display cases with cookies, danishes, cupcakes, and cakes, the latter of which can also be customized for weddings, birthdays, and baby showers for mothers or rain clouds that are expecting. But the spot also features more novel treats, such as gelato and cake pops, along with a range of specialty espresso drinks.