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 US 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.
The grill gurus at Smoqin’ Odie’s Grill and Smokehouse sizzle up a lunch and dinner menu burgeoning with burgers, pulled pork, and steak. Sauces ranging from spicy jamaican jerk to tangy chipotle lime outfit slow-cooked wings ($3.99 for 6; $7.49 for 12) more tastily than miniature leather vests. The friendly staff whisks entrees to tables such as the Smoqin’ Odie’s Big Burger, whose char-grilled half-pound patty day dreams on a fluffy 5-inch Kaiser bun ($4.49), or the Smokehouse chili, which is loaded with smoked brisket simmered with ground beef and chilies ($2.99/cup; $4.29/bowl). Mouths water at the aroma of hickory-smoked Boston butt in a pulled-pork sandwich ($4.49 regular; $6.99 jumbo), and hands comfort provolone as it faints onto the savory brisket tucked into a hefty hoagie bun ($7.99).
The staff at Yogurt Cafe fills self-serve yogurt machines with a menu of flavors that rotate every 10 days. Guests sculpt smooth, spiraling hillocks of frozen yogurt ($0.45/ounce) in flavors such as carrot cake, classic vanilla or chocolate, and mango tango and heap on ornaments from a range of more than 50 toppings. Fresh fruit, candy corn, and butterscotch sauce help hide snowy yogurt peaks from scorned skiers, and the aromas of roasting Caribou coffee ($1.50–$1.70) drift in earthy clouds over mochas ($4.25), which warm up frozen windpipes and sluggish neurons. Sweet teeth sink into baked delights such as raspberry- walnut pastries ($1.99 for three) and blueberry scones ($2.25) to quiet tummies grumbling like Smokey the Bear touring a fireworks factory, and patrons check emails on Yogurt Cafe's free WiFi.
Serving fresh and speedy pizza across America since 1959, Little Caesar's has grown into a huge, international carryout phenomenon. The menu features pizzas with dough built from scratch that are made to order ($5.99 for a large one-topping). Toppings range from classic pepperoni and sausage to Canadian bacon and pineapple. Return as the conquering hero of your family and save your twins the trouble of hunting down bipedal mastodons by picking up one of Little Caesar's Hot-n-Ready pies ($5.99). Hot-n-Ready pizzas are available in pepperoni or cheese, and can be picked up any time without the need to order ahead. Fans of three-dimensional eats can try the Italian cheese bread combo ($4.99 including sauce) or chicken wings ($4.99) with a variety of sauces.
Elderberry’s, voted Platinum for both smoothies and milkshakes by Roanoker magazine, busies blenders with fresh and healthy ingredients to create its award-winning beverages, and a crisp collection of wraps, salads, and soups silences audible appetites. The menu of suave solutions showcases juices joined in flavorful matrimony, such as the Elderberry, a fruity fusion of raspberry and cranberry juices, strawberries, elderberries, and orange sherbet ($4.59); the raspberry-packed Really Raspberry ($4.59); or the Not Actually Raspberry, a handful of red paint balls mixed with a pair of Faberge eggs. Desserty drinks implant pep in energy-deficient steps with the coffee-based Perkilator ($4.89), or swaddle exposed sweet teeth in silky sips of the Chocolate Peanutter ($4.89).