Gwen Willhite founded Cookies by Design in 1983, when an unsatisfying brainstorming session about gift ideas led her to ponder one question: why should flowers and sweets remain separate? Her solution was to design the cookie bouquet, where custom, hand-decorated cookies are displayed on sticks and arranged like flowers in gift baskets. Her invention quickly became a popular gift among locals, particularly those allergic to real blooms or too bashful to look at naked cookies.
Twenty-five years later, there are more than 200 Cookies by Design locations across the country. Each shop's team of bakers creates cookie baskets with a degree of care that matches Willhite's original vision, decorating and arranging sweet shapes for birthdays, holidays, and any other special occasion.
The Perfect Touch aims to magnify beauty and boost guests' confidence with a wide range of aesthetic treatments. Teeth-whitening sessions, for example, use an organic hydrogen peroxide gel and LED laser light to undo the effects of years of smoking, wine drinking, or gargling with soy sauce. Gleaming, long-lasting Shellac manicures pamper and beautify hands, and epsom-salt pedicures smooth calluses with a peppermint foot scrub and lavender or cucumber lotion. Paraffin-therapy treatments are available as an add-on to help soothe dry skin and promote better circulation in the fingers and toes.
The staff at Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt rejects the oft-touted claim that Americans don?t care about nutrition. The problem, they say, has more to do with selection than anything else; most low-calorie sweets don?t hold a candle to a fudge brownie or a warm slice of apple pie. They kept this in mind when crafting their frozen-yogurt recipes, working tireless to develop a healthy?and equally delicious?alternative to the dessert status quo by turning to decadent confections and just-picked fruits for inspiration.
Their experiments thus far have yielded more than 60 frozen yogurt flavors, which take turns swirling through the self-serve machines that line their colorful shop?s wall. Before taking a seat in a bright orange chair, guests fill their dishes with cool, low-fat swirls of chocolate, cheesecake, salted caramel, and a classic tart that bites as pleasantly as a teething kitten. Fresh strawberries, crushed Oreos, and gooey hot-fudge sauce headline a smorgasbord of at least 30 toppings ready to be scooped or poured into cups before their final weigh-in.
Armed with just a single, generations-old cookie recipe, Great American Cookies opened its first store in 1977, and the rest is history. Today, the franchise boasts locations in malls across the country and nabbed a coveted spot on Entrepreneur magazine?s 2012 Top 500 Franchises in the baked-goods category. As the shop?s reputation grew, so did its menu as chefs churned out a mouthwatering roster of gourmet-cookie recipes, each created and carefully tested in Atlanta. The tempting options now include snickerdoodle and chewy pecan supreme, as well as freshly baked fudge and cheesecake brownies, and cookie sandwiches stuffed with frosting. The real show-stoppers, however, are the giant chocolate-chip cookie cakes, which can be customized with sweet, celebratory messages or shopping lists penned in colorful icing.
Each trip to Yogurt Zone is an exercise in deliberation. The bank of frozen-yogurt dispensers dares guests not to second-guess their choice, pouring an array of kosher low-fat and nonfat flavors as well as nondairy and no-sugar-added options, such as mango, pink lemonade, and watermelon sorbet. Each yogurt option teems with live, active cultures that are believed to deliver many health benefits, such as clearer skin and improved digestion of swallowed car keys. Even after visitors settle on flavor combinations, the toppings bar continues to test decision-making skills with both dry and fresh edible accoutrements, such as fresh fruit, nuts, chocolate, candies, and cereals.
Sweet Frog?s frozen-yogurt flavors go beyond the norm. In addition to cookies ?n? cream and greek yogurt with honey, the lineup of 75 varieties includes maple-bacon donut, cake batter, and dulce de leche. Patrons can sprinkle on toppings such as fresh fruit and candies, then savor their confetti?d confections in the lime-green-and-pink restaurant. Smiling frogs and funky white hanging lamps give the stores an air of fun, but founder Derek Cha is interested in giving more than that to the community; through Sweet Frog, he sponsors children in need and dispatches frog mascots to those who need encouragement.