Red umbrella
Others have been here before us. For Cole Porter, excellence meant a Shakespeare sonnet, a Bendel bonnet, and Camembert. For Oscar Hammerstein, it was raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. We're not so romantic. Leaving aside the Bard (and old Dutch masters and Lady Astor—though we'd certainly include Mrs. Astor), we went with a set of modern, what's-in-it-for-us? criteria. Things that really deliver: FedEx, Google, waterproof Band-Aids. Things that make your eyes light up, like TiVo or the puppet number from Chicago. Things, in short, that make you go "ex-cellent!" After much spirited debate (Krispy Kremes: excellent thing or health hazard?), we ended up with the following winners.

So come along. Meet some old friends. Make some new discoveries.