When Forest Mars Sr. was a boy, in 1911, he watched with rapt attention as his mother, Ethel, crafted gourmet chocolates in their kitchen. 70 years later, he honored her memory by making chocolates of his own in Henderson, Nevada, where today a small factory still whips up his mother's recipes alongside modern confections. Traditional candies mingle nuts, crème liqueurs, and caramels with dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and truffles. Handpicked pecans float amid chocolate and butter in Ethel M's signature brittles, and milk, dark, and sugar-free chocolate envelops bite-sized treats such as espresso beans, pretzels, and fruit. Ethel M Chocolates invites visitors to tour the factory, where chocolatiers prove sweets can be made without preservatives or the witchcraft of Keebler elves, before sending candies to seven Las Vegas–area shops.
Since 1990, The Cookie Zoo has warmed hearts and stuffed bellies with made-from-scratch sweets and homemade gift baskets. Teach a chum how to chew with the doughy contents of a cookie basket ($50–$100), or carry around a combo tray ($40–$55) of chocolate-chip and sugar cookies and blimp-like brownies to make new friends on the street while toning your carrying muscles.
Freed's Bakery specializes in handsomely decorated delectables and customized cakes that range from festive Las Vegas–themed cakes to celebration-specific confections. Today's Groupon easily pays for a pound of Freed's fresh-baked cookies ($13.95 per pound); flavors include rocky-road bars, mint chocolate chip, and rainbow. Freed's also offers raspberry-rum cakes, strawberry shortcakes, and a Belgian-chocolate-and-whipped-cream piece of glory called Le Parisien by the slice ($3.75–$4.75). Or choose one of Freed's big and beautiful cupcakes ($2.25 each).
Unlike newborn farm animals, cupcakes remain adorable, well-behaved house pets who’ll never grow up to destroy your furniture. Devoted to decadent ingredients, The Cupcakery's bake staff crafts the celebrated cream-crested cakes daily. Choose from more than 30 varieties, including seasonal and limited-edition flavors, to create a tasty six-pack. Like sharks swimming to stay alive, the expert buttercreamers at The Cupcakery churn, mix, and frost new recipes to satisfy a stream of hungry customers and celebrities, including Fergie, Lance Bass, and Avril Lavigne. Elvis aficionados will appreciate the Trip to Graceland, a chunky peanut-butter cake crested with creamy banana frosting, rolled in applewood-smoked bacon, and swirled with honey. Or keep it simple with the signature Tickle Me Pink, a classic white cake with pink buttercream frosting. Other options include Southern Belle (red velvet with cream-cheese frosting), Strawberry Lemonade, and Cherrylicious.
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 United States 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 & Jerry's has also operated with a commitment to improve the quality of life locally, nationally, and internationally. The company practices 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 its 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.