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At Last: Design Your Own Snacks!
Key lime with graham crackers and raspberry swirl. Cinnamon-cotton candy with gummy bears. Sea-salt caramel and butter brickle. eCreamery makes the question "vanilla or chocolate?" seem like child's play. The Omaha ice cream shop, started by friends Abby Jordan and Becky App, churns out a dozen-plus fresh flavors daily. But it's their web site, where you can build your own custom flavors, that got our gelato-lovin' heart pumping.
How it works: Choose your base—dairy-free sorbetto, rich gelato or classic ice cream—and then pick one or two of the more than 40 flavors to infuse into the base mix. (Ice cream experts on-site tweak the ratio, to make sure subtle lavender still sings through a heavier chocolate.) Options range from adventurous (chipotle, stout) and nostalgic (birthday cake, butterscotch), to straightforward stunners like blueberry and cardamom. Next comes the fun part: agonizing over the mix-ins (walnut brownies, cherry swirls, candied ginger, malted milk balls...the list goes on and on). Four hand-packed pints are shipped, bearing your label. May we suggest: "Hands off!"
Our best creation: Coffee and sweet cream gelato with a luscious caramel swirl and crunchy bits of chocolate espresso chips.
Signature Trail Snacks
No more picking through a store-bought bag of trail mix and leaving the lonely walnuts behind? Sweet! Mother-and-son team (and health nuts) Ava Bise and Anthony Flynn started YouBar after years of making protein bars at home. This design-it-yourself business has since expanded from bars to protein shakes, cereal, and—our favorite—trail mixes.
How it works: Of the 40-odd ingredients offered—chia seeds, black licorice, wasabi peas, sundried tomatoes, candied ginger, organic dried fruits—you can blend up to 21. Nutritional information appears on-screen as you make additions, many of which are organic. Trail mix ships in individual snack packs.
Our best creation: A salty-sweet-crunchy-chewy symphony of pistachios, peanuts, organic soynuts, dried cherries, organic flaxseeds, sesame sticks, and dark-chocolate covered raisins.
For nearly two decades, Madeline Carvahlo Lanciani has been crafting handmade, all-natural French desserts at the famed Duane Park Patisserie in New York City. The bakery is beloved for its whoopie pies, butter cookies and fruit pies, but we're particularly smitten with Lanciani's dainty petit fours.
How it works: Tasty cake (almond, chocolate fudge or lemon layered with jam, fudge or lemon curd) is transformed into a fancy diminutive dessert topped with delicate designs like daisies, pinwheels or hearts. You can choose from four different shapes, six different designs, and nine colors—plus edible gold, silver and pearl finishes.
Our best creation: An oval of almond cake and apricot jam covered in pastel yellow fondant and monogrammed with pastel pink initials.
Blend Your Own Breakfast
A heated breakfast debate over which ingredients make for the perfect granola led friends Matt Pawlik, Raoul Duggal and Andreas Bergmann to launch MixMyGranola in 2008. The question must have plagued other cereal fans as well: In its first two months, the company filled more than 1,000 custom orders.
How it works: After picking a granola base (including low-fat, cinnamon, french-vanilla and gluten-free), load your mix: The site offers 20 dried fruits (including kiwi, papaya, plums), 17 nuts and seeds, nearly 30 extras (everything from jelly beans and gummy bears to wasabi peas and coconut shreds), and an optional scoop of enhancer (caffeine, anyone?). A 16-oz tube of your custom blend—printed with nutritional info—is then shipped your way.
Our Best Creation: Organic granola studded with chewy bits of dried strawberries, apricots, and mangoes, plus crunchy macadamia nuts, oatbran flakes and sweet honey smacks.
Brewed to Perfection
Tea connoisseurs, rejoice! Though she wasn't a coffee or tea fan at the time, Jenn Pfeiffer quit her career as a paramedic three years ago to launch a custom-made brew business with her husband, Brian. Design a Tea offers scrumptious spiced blends that are hand-mixed and certified organic and fair-trade.
How it works: Four different tea bases (black, green, oolong, or rooibos) can be doctored with about 50 flavors, including fruits (cranberry, blackberry, banana), spices (vanilla, anise, nutmeg), syrups (maple, honey) and nuts (chestnut, almond). Choose between loose-leaf or pre-packed bags, pen your own label, and wait for your perfect pour to ship.
Our best creation: A rich blend of Sri Lankan black tea with sharp, spicy chai and sweet apricots.
It can be tough work distinguishing a healthy snack from a sugary bar laden with high-fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils. Happily, Maria Sutanto—an avid baker and runner, who's studied nutrition—started Element Bars with partner Jonathan Kelly. Their granola bars are minimally processed and made from whole, mostly organic foods.
How it works: Not sure which ingredients are best for heart health or packed with antioxidants? Easy icons let you pick and choose from health-focused flavor profiles, or you can design your own bar from scratch. Four bar cores—from sweet dates to crispy puffed rice—can be loaded with your choice of dried fruits, nuts, seeds, and low-key sweeteners like agave and maple syrup.
Our best creation: Chewy almond butter and oats, dotted with dried blueberries, cherries and walnuts.
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