In 1965, Popular Mechanics ran a small classified ad for Brookstone, a new catalog company that packed its pages with functional products and detail-oriented descriptions. Brookstone quickly expanded to meet the high demand for its collection of “hard-to-find tools,” and opened the door to its first retail location in 1973. Today, Brookstone’s more than 300 nationwide retail locations allow customers to test-drive its ever-growing lineup of interesting products, which range from Bluetooth-enabled massage chairs to power adapters designed for international travelers and their electronic passports. Staying true to its roots as a catalog company, Brookstone houses an even larger selection of products, each waiting patiently to be shipped, on its website.
Based in Las Vegas, Comedy on Deck Tours began escorting sightseers on tours of nearby natural wonders in 2003. The company stands out among other tour companies by employing big personalities as tour guides. Many of the tours are led by professional standup comedians who lend levity to walks along the top of the Hoover Dam and paddleboat rides on Lake Mead. After catching their breath, chuckled-out tour takers have complimented the guides for seamless weaving of history, geography, and family-friendly punch lines.
At locations in more than a dozen states, U-Swirl delivers more than 40 flavors of frozen yogurt packed with live and active cultures and designed in low-fat, non-fat, and sugar-free varieties. Self-serve machines line the shop’s lime green walls, ready for customers to dispense heaping swirls of old favorites, such as cookie & cream and fruit sorbet, or seasonal innovations, including eggnog in the winter and fireworks in the summer. Next, patrons head to the toppings bar and crown their frozen treats with as much fresh fruit, cereal, and candy as they can handle before weighing cups and paying by the ounce.
At Sizzling Wok, chefs wield fiery-hot woks chock-full of stir-fry dishes from a menu of Chinese specialties such as peking pork, chow mein, and kung pao chicken. Combination plates grant the power of choice to hunger-havers, helping them pack plates with their choice of two stir-fry entrees, chow mein, fried rice, and a crispy fried drumstick ($7.99). Sizzling Wok's cooks learn to juggle up to two quarts of tender chicken breasts, aromatic spices, and crisp vegetables, which they toss into piping-hot woks for dishes such as the peanut- and jalapeño-laced kung pao chicken ($5.99/pt.). Pan-fried pot stickers burst with a filling of tasty meat and vegetables ($3.99 for six) and, when paired with fried tempura shrimp ($4.99 for six), demolish international side-dish-specific cravings.
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.