From its humble beginnings in Kankakee, Illinois, in 1938, Dairy Queen has grown from a delicious experiment in soft-serve ice cream to a household name with more than 5,900 restaurants around the world. The shop's signature frozen delights are built upon a frosty foundation of creamy chocolate or vanilla soft serve, which swirls idyllically into cones, cups, overturned top hats, sundaes, Peanut Buster parfaits, and the chain's iconic Blizzard treats, blended with crumbled candy and other mix-ins. Ice-cream cakes cleverly conceal a surprise filling of fudge and chocolate crunch between layers of vanilla and chocolate ice cream, providing sweet, sliceable sustenance for birthday parties and other special occasions.
Fruit rules the roost on the other side of the slushy emporium, where Orange Julius blends its signature frothy drinks crafted from fruit juice, ice, and a "magic” powdered sweetener that explains why they disappear from most customers’ cups minutes after the first delicious sip. Real fruit purée forms the basis for the shop's smoothies, which also come in diet-friendly light versions that boast 150 calories or fewer.
Almost 100 years ago, Peter J. Oberweis found himself with a surplus of milk. Rather than throw it out or freeze it into popsicles, Peter began selling it to his neighbors, an endeavor that was so popular that he began a milk-delivery service in 1927. Fast-forward to today, and Oberweis Dairy still delivers glass bottles of creamy milk to doorsteps. The small family-owned dairies that produce milk exclusively for Oberweis pledge never to use artificial growth hormones, therefore imbuing craft cheeses, super-premium ice cream, and yogurt with fresh, unobstructed taste. Oberweis partners with other like-minded companies to deliver such items as certified-humane Phil’s Fresh Eggs, Chuckanut Bay Foods cheesecake, and Connie’s Pizza to homes or to sell them at the company’s various retail locations.
Before Pam Turkin flung open the doors to the first Just Baked in 2009, she was just baking cupcakes on the weekends. But after her corporate travels took her past a growing number of cupcake shops outside of southeastern Michigan, she decided to turn her hobby into a career. She now helms 17 shops in the area, where she and her staff of dessert experts whip up eclectically flavored cupcakes such as red velvet cheesecake, chocolate chip cookie dough, and grumpy cake. In addition to the mouthwatering flavors, all of their items boast real butter, real eggs, and real milk as opposed to artificial ingredients from artificial cows and chickens.
TCBY (a.k.a. The Country's Best Yogurt) serves low-fat and fat-free yogurt that contains benevolent bacterial cultures that assist the body with digestion and nutrient absorption. All locations tout silky soft-serve in flavors such as golden vanilla and white-chocolate mousse ($1.79–$3.89). Top your probiotic-packed treat with strawberries, gummy bears, coconuts, or a host of other toppings (+$0.85 each). TCBY's Beriyo smoothies—potent potions such as Strawberry Bananza and Berrylicious—contain real-dairy frozen yogurt blended with bushels of fresh fruit ($4.39–$5.39). Celebrate successfully evading a baby raincloud with a waffle cone (additional $.60). Prices and selection vary from store to store.
With scrumptious baked goods and a tempting lineup of chilled beverages, Cinnabon provides a hearty snack after a long day of shopping, working, or workshopping. Munch on variety of cinnamon-infused treats, from the Cinnabon classic roll, temptingly filled with Cinnabon’s famous Makara cinnamon ($3.49), to the Caramel Pecanbon, topped with a indulgent potpourri of luscious caramel and tasty pecans ($3.99). Take home an assortment of goodies with one of the stores’ Cinnapacks, good for at least four classic rolls or nine minibons ($10.99–$11.99, combo packs add $1, Pecanbons add $2). If your parched lips yearn for a cool beverage, revitalize the taste buds with a Chillatta, a frozen drink available in chocolate mocha, strawberry, strawberry banana, and Tropical Blast ($3.69–$4.39). Caffeine connoisseurs can sip on a cup of Cinnabon’s rich coffee for a satisfying pick-me-up ($1.69–$1.99).
Praised by patrons and local press, Ridley's Bakery Café crafts hearty sandwiches with quality ingredients on hand-sliced bread. Every morning, the eatery's bakers rise at 2:30 a.m. to watch their favorite infomercials and to prepare the shop's fresh bread, available in a half-dozen varieties, including asiago and sourdough. The menu satisfies sandwich devotees from all walks of life with vegetarian and low-fat options, such as the fat-free tuna-salad sandwich ($6.25). Teeth crunch through sliced cucumber, roasted red pepper, and lemon-herb dressing atop the turkey garden club ($6.50), while stomachs fill pastry vacancies with a rotating selection of savory 10-ounce muffins ($4.75), packed with herbs, seasonings, vegetables, and cheeses. Miniature explorers sail across the top of a 12-ounce bowl of creamy chicken-wild-rice soup ($3.35), occasionally docking at the edge of a bread bowl ($2 extra) or mistaking a piece of poultry for India.