At all 200 Cookie by Design locations across the country, bakers hand-craft cheery cookie centerpieces from scratch with the creative flair of a florist. Founder Gwen Willhite stumbled across the inspiration for these artistic treats back in 1983 when, suddenly unemployed, she found she had time to combine her passion for baking and crafts. Today, each edible bouquet is prepared with the same care she showed when first starting out. She decorates each cookie by hand and personalizes the colorful confectionary arrangements for all occasions, including birthdays and housewarmings. Her cookies come in a variety of shapes, from ducks to hearts, and can be ordered in forms other than bouquets, such as baskets or trays. To get the most out of their medium, the bakers also design and decorate cookie cakes. In many instances, they’ll even hand deliver packages and can offer same-day delivery on select items, and cookie creations are always available onsite.
Taras Slipka brings something unique to the cakes that he crafts and decorates: an art degree. Drawing from training in Europe, Slipka uses his subtle, classically trained touch to transform delectable French-style pastries into stunning masterpieces. Dozens of styles and flavors cater to any occasion requiring a formally decorated pastry, from weddings to anniversaries to birthdays. Leaving the actual baking and cake construction out, Slipka's decoration classes use fake cakes. This allows pupils to focus solely on the frosting application, creating lifelike calla lilies or roses, perfect for training your dog to devour your nemesis’s flower garden.
In 1919, the same year he immigrated to America, Danish native Hans Petersen opened the first Petersen's Old Fashioned Ice Cream in Oak Park, IL. Today, using Hans's same recipe of 16–18% butterfat ice cream, Petersen's confectioners craft 20-plus flavors, including caramel ripple, peach, and chocolate peanut butter. The menu boasts ice cream parlor classics, which range from turtle sundaes to root-beer floats made the old-fashioned way. Fudge from Michigan's Mackinac Island rounds out Petersen's dairy-based treats. For lactose-intolerant guests, the shop stocks sorbets, as well as gourmet teas and coffees.
Fresh, high-quality ingredients are the keys to Yogurtology's appeal, allowing guests to indulge in dessert while doing good for their bodies. In addition to diligently preparing fruit toppings daily, the staff members hand-cut each hunk of candy bar, creating delectably bite-size pieces that can be scattered over yogurt along with gummy candies, flakes of coconut, and more than 60 other garnishes, many of which are gluten-free and are carefully kept from commingling with the other ingredients. The resident "yogurtologists" also apply their attention to detail to the shop's atmosphere, replenishing and cleaning up the toppings bar throughout the day, helping to maintain a crisp, neat vibe.
Of course, toppings are only half the story. The stars at Yogurtology are the frozen yogurts, which range from classics to inventive flavors like pomegranate raspberry, Tart Nouveau, and award-winning Oatmeal Cookie. The self-serve machines offer up two no-sugar-added and two dairy-free options daily in order to accommodate dietary restrictions, and the shop shows respect to man's best friend by carrying cups of organic "doggie" yogurt.