The baker behind Style And Grace Cupcakes is something of an alchemist; she transforms simple ingredients such as brown sugar and fresh strawberries into moist cupcakes crowned with decadent buttercream frosting. She also bakes cookies, cookie pops, and diabetic-friendly cupcakes made with Splenda. Find these handcrafted desserts at the Gastonia Farmers Market, or have them delivered to your door.
Hollie, the lady behind Sugar Diva's Custom Cakes, bakes fresh, homemade treats from fine ingredients. The business specializes in custom cakes for special occasions such as weddings and birthdays, fashioning them with multiple tiers, elegant accouterments, and stunning designs. They also specialize in smaller treats, which range from gooey chocolate chip cookies and brownies to cupcakes, chocolate fudge, made-to-order pies, and old-fashioned candies.
In “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” super-computer Deep Thought is asked to calculate the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything—7.5 million years later, it arrives at the answer: 42. Most scholars have rejected this as a legitimate answer to the meaning of life, except for Yogurt King’s owner, Travis Linder. It’s no coincidence that 42 is the minimum number of sugary, nutty, and fruity toppings Travis keeps stocked in his topping bar. Evidence of the number 42 as a plausible answer to The Ultimate Question is smeared all over the sticky faces of Yogurt King’s customers. They shuffle out of Yogurt King in a satisfied daze usually reserved for monks who’ve just discovered how to levitate without arm floaties. Skeptics need only venture into the ocean-blue shop and pull on one of 12 levers, each dispensing a cascade of frozen yogurt in flavors such as pink lemonade, cookie batter, and mango tango. Should their life still feel empty after strewing their frosty dish with strawberries and peaches sourced from nearby Abbott Farms, they can take satisfaction in knowing that the universe really is meaningless, and fix their gaze on one of Yogurt King’s two flat-screen televisions.
Hanging lamps cast their warm light across the vibrant paintings that hang from El Caribe Sunset Cafe’s pink and yellow walls. The café’s decor draws its influences from Mexico and the Caribbean islands, as does its menu. A tropical heat envelops the kitchen, where seafood, steak, and chicken simmer in tangy sauces and plantains crackle in frying pans of garlic and butter. Meanwhile, bathed in the neon glow of a Presidente sign, bartenders fill glasses and waterproof sombreros with frozen margaritas, mojitos, and imported beers.
The Caribbean doesn’t feel so far away on warmer nights, thanks to a front patio lined with lime-green umbrellas and speckled with tables and chairs. The café hosts a number of special events throughout the year, from live music and dance parties to raucous games of pin the tail on the enchilada.
A science lab calls to mind test tubes, bubbling flasks of chemicals, maniacally laughing men in white coats—but rarely ice cream. But that's exactly where Curt Jones, chairman and founder of Dippin' Dots, came upon the inspiration for the tiny flash-frozen beads of ice cream. A microbiologist, Jones spearheaded the flash-freezing process of cryogenic encapsulation, a method capable of trapping flavor and freshness.
Beginning as a retail shop in Lexington, Kentucky, the ice cream quickly began to quell the tantrums of Fortune 500 CEOs all over the country. Having won numerous awards since he created a new way to enjoy an old treat, Jones stays true to Dippin' Dots’ roots, making the ice cream at the company headquarters in Paducah, Kentucky. New additions to the Dippin' Dots family include Dots ‘n Cream, a treat similar to traditional ice cream.
When their daughter, Kai, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, Tracy and Patrick Watkins knew they needed to provide her with as much love and care as possible. They quit their jobs as engineers and launched a bakery named after their little girl and her favorite treats. In the kitchen at Kai’s Kookies and More, the couple ices custom sugar cookies by hand, transforming circles into edible basketballs and rectangles into festive American flags, all of which can be dipped into house-brewed coffee or bundled into baskets, boxes, or bouquets. Sweeter than a kiss from Cap’n Crunch, mangoes and strawberries fill several varieties of cupcakes and 3-inch cheesecakes.
In addition to packing their display case with handcrafted confections, Tracy and Patrick supply desserts to eight local restaurants and four Monkey Joe's bounce playgrounds. Visitors can also book Kai's for special events such as tea parties and international summits disguised as children's birthday bashes.