The top brass twisters at Auntie Anne's, one of the world's largest hand-rolled, soft-pretzel franchises, create enough twirly treats every year to wrap the earth in deliciously salted dough three times over. Pretzel professionals prepare a wide array of sweet and salty snacks, spiraling them into ornate knots with the delicacy of a grandmotherly sailor and baking them to golden brown in full view of customers. A plain pretzel offers a satisfyingly simple snack, while sacchariferous ingredients such as cinnamon sugar and toasted-almond toffee make tongues sweat with anticipation. Mouths will mambo to the Mediterranean flavors of the garlic pretzel, a perfect treat to submerge into a dunk tank of marinara or one of the other available dipping sauces. Or, sample slender tubewiches swathed in the warm embrace of pretzel dough with signature pretzel dogs. Pair braided bites with a chalice of lemonade or a frozen ICEE drink, both of which pack a flavorful punch that’s more refreshing than a brisk morning run that successfully evades a pursuing snow leopard.
Treats by Bernadette silences clamoring sweet teeth with a menu of delicious confections whipped up from scratch. Crisp granny smith apples rest behind house-made caramel armor, which protects the fruit from hungry mouths with delicious inefficacy, and Ghirardelli milk chocolate disguises strawberries' crimson hides with drizzles of white chocolate. Cupcakes represent the missing link between miniature and full-size cakes, with moist, crumbly bodies regally adorned with fluffy crowns of frosting. Customers choose caramel, vanilla, coconut, or red velvet flavors, mixing and matching to keep taste buds from becoming complacent and registering every flavor as "not broccoli."
Regardless of which of the hundreds of Target Portrait Studio locations you meander into, you can always count on a similar experience. Tucked into Target retail locations throughout the nation, each studio boasts a staff of professional photographers, premium lighting equipment, and advanced digital cameras. The seasoned crew takes pains to customize photo sessions to suit each customer's vision, setting up desired backgrounds and props before guiding families and high-school seniors through a mélange of poses. Afterward, customers will work with a professional to personalize their portraits with different special effects and styles, such as black and white or sepia tone. They then pick up their physical portraits at the studio in 7–10 days. If they don't feel like holding their breath that long to see the final products, they can access the images in an online gallery within 24 hours of the session, at which point they can order extra prints for gifts, collages, and greeting cards.
Melanie Aitken handcrafts small batches of truffles, brittle, and other dainties with expertise honed over 30 years as an acclaimed confectioner for parties and weddings. Clusters of cashews and caramel emulate turtles as they are dipped by hand into white- and milk-chocolate shells, and fragrant almonds flavor traditional dutch bonquet pastries, re-created based on a recipe from Melanie's grandmother. Lava-salted caramel strains to encase magmatic caramel drops within a sill of milk or white chocolate, and a sprinkling of black-lava salt hints at the eruption of flavor contained within. Melanie’s Country Confections delivers locally, and an online storefront facilitates orders throughout the country.