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11 Chock-Full Facts About Cold Stone Creamery

Whether you like it, love it, or gotta have it, Cold Stone Creamery and their candy-filled, extra rich ice cream creations have been the pinnacle of summertime decadence since the first store opened in Tempe, Ariz. in 1988.

1. THEY SELL “SUPERPREMIUM ICE CREAM.”

That flattering adjective isn’t just some self-awarded praise. The label is an industry designation that refers to ice cream with 12-14 percent butterfat and relatively low “overrun”—the amount of extra air that’s pumped into it. This is what gives Cold Stone’s flavors their super creamy feel, an intentional choice by founders Donald and Susan Sutherland, who wanted something between flavorful hard-packed and smooth soft-serve.

2. ALL OF THEIR ICE CREAM IS MADE ON SITE.

All of their innovative flavors are made daily on premise, and the granite slab that the various candies, nuts, and fruits are mixed in on is chilled to 16 degrees.

3. COLD STONE DIDN’T INVENT THE MIX-IN.

But then again, neither did competitors Maggie Moo's or Marble Slab. That honor goes to Steve Herrell, who opened his Boston ice cream parlor Steve's Ice Cream in 1973—pioneering superpremium ice creams and the idea of “smooshing-in.” Cold Stone is happy to give Herrell credit for the innovative idea—although they changed the name of the concept to "mix-ins" for distinction—but they think they can do it better.

"Steve was the father of mix-ins," Meredith Bryan, co-owner of the Cold Stone in the Charlestown neighborhood of Boston and the chain's area developer, told Boston.com in 2004. "We love Steve. We worship him. But this is taking it to a whole new level. People have definitely never seen this before, even people who have been to Steve's before."

4. THE COMPANY GREW SUPER QUICKLY.

It landed at No. 94 on Entrepreneur magazine’s "101 Fastest-Growing Franchises in America” in 2000 with 100 stores in over 16 states. By 2005, Cold Stone had jumped to 12th place on the list.

5. THEY ONCE SERVED CRICKETS.

In an attempt to capitalize on the nation’s Survivor obsession, the ice cream chain launched a cricket campaign in 2001. Chocolate-covered crickets were available for purchase at all then-142 locations of Cold Stone throughout the country. Patrons who ate the insects were given free ice cream on their next visit or the chance to be entered into a raffle for a trip to the Australian site where the reality show was filmed.

"They look like real crickets, so it's tough to get past that, but once you pop them in your mouth, they taste kind of like chocolate-covered potato chips," Brian Curin, Cold Stone's director of marketing at the time, said.

6. YOU CAN GET JELLY BELLY BEANS FLAVORED LIKE COLD STONE FAVORITES.

The two sweet brands partnered in 2008 and still today you can purchase jelly beans flavored like Birthday Cake Remix, Apple Pie a la Cold Stone, Chocolate Devotion, and a few others.

7. COLD STONE MADE NON-MELTING ICE CREAM ONCE.

In 2009, Cold Stone partnered with JELL-O to produce a limited-edition line of pudding-flavored ice creams: Chocolate, Butterscotch, Vanilla, and Banana. The special scoops had a strange, slightly unintentional feature: they never really melted. The flavors were made with actual JELL-O mix and although served chilled as an ice cream, if they were allowed to sit out at room temperature they melted not into a liquid but a pudding.

8. THE MILKSHAKES ARE REALLY, REALLY DECADENT.

How decadent? Try, award-winning—sort of. For two years in a row (2010 and 2011), Cold Stone’s PB&C milkshake—made with chocolate ice cream, milk, and peanut butter—earned the top spot on Men's Health "20 Worst Drinks in America" list. The 24-oz shake clocks in at 2,010 calories, 131 grams of fat (68 grams saturated), and 153 grams of sugar. But that’s not stopping devotees. "I don't care. I'd drink it without difficulty,” the Telegraph quoted one fan of the shake as saying. “I'd probably have it once a week."

9. THERE’S A COLD STONE VIDEO GAME.

It’s called Cold Stone Creamery: Scoop It Up and it’s available for purchase for the Wii. The game involves running an ice cream shop, of course, and along the way you can unlock new flavors, cones and mix-ins.

10. COLD STONE’S FORMER CEO IS NOW THE GOVERNOR OF ARIZONA.

In 2014, Doug Ducey was elected governor of Arizona. Although he had served as the state's treasurer since 2011, the Republican didn’t highlight that aspect of his career during his campaign. Instead, he focused on his time as CEO at Cold Stone Creamery from 1995 until the company was sold to Kahala in 2007. His campaign ads dubbed him "the conservative ice-cream guy,” and at one forum he implored voters to "look at me and evaluate me from your personal experience at Cold Stone Creamery.”

Around the time he got elected, the state capitol started stocking Cold Stone Creamery items in their freezer—but a spokeswoman claimed the connection was purely coincidental.

11. SERVERS COMPETE TO BE THE MOST ENTERTAINING.

If you’ve been to a Cold Stone location you know your candy-filled ice cream treat often comes with a side of singing—servers are instructed to make up silly songs whenever they receive tips. But the entertainment factor doesn’t stop there. Along with learning the basics of serving up scoops, new employees are coached on different techniques for personalizing the service—from singing and dancing to juggling. The company highlights these unique talents at an annual competition for the most entertaining team of ice-cream servers. We think the Dubai crew seen above has a lock on 2015.

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Pop Culture
How Jimmy Buffett Turned 'Margaritaville' Into a Way of Life
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Few songs have proven as lucrative as “Margaritaville,” a modest 1977 hit by singer and songwriter Jimmy Buffett that became an anthem for an entire life philosophy. The track was the springboard for Buffett’s business empire—restaurants, apparel, kitchen appliances, and more—marketing the taking-it-easy message of its tropical print lyrics.

After just a few years of expanding that notion into other ventures, the “Parrot Heads” of Buffett’s fandom began to account for $40 million in annual revenue—and that was before the vacation resorts began popping up.

Jimmy Buffett performs for a crowd
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“Margaritaville,” which turned 40 this year, was never intended to inspire this kind of devotion. It was written after Buffett, as an aspiring musician toiling in Nashville, found himself in Key West, Florida, following a cancelled booking in Miami and marveling at the sea of tourists clogging the beaches.

Like the other songs on his album, Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes, it didn’t receive a lot of radio play. Instead, Buffett began to develop his following by opening up for The Eagles. Even at 30, Buffett was something less than hip—a flip-flopped performer with a genial stage presence that seemed to invite an easygoing vibe among crowds. “Margaritaville,” an anthem to that kind of breezy attitude, peaked at number eight on the Billboard charts in 1977. While that’s impressive for any single, its legacy would quickly evolve beyond the music industry's method for gauging success.

What Buffett realized as he continued to perform and tour throughout the early 1980s is that “Margaritaville” had the ability to sedate audiences. Like a hypnotist, the singer could immediately conjure a specific time and place that listeners wanted to revisit. The lyrics painted a scene of serenity that became a kind of existential vacation for Buffett's fans:

Nibblin' on sponge cake,
Watchin' the sun bake;
All of those tourists covered with oil.
Strummin' my six string on my front porch swing.
Smell those shrimp —
They're beginnin' to boil.

By 1985, Buffett was ready to capitalize on that goodwill. In Key West, he opened a Margaritaville store, which sold hats, shirts, and other ephemera to residents and tourists looking to broadcast their allegiance to his sand-in-toes fantasy. (A portion of the proceeds went to Save the Manatees, a nonprofit organization devoted to animal conservation.) The store also sold the Coconut Telegraph, a kind of propaganda newsletter about all things Buffett and his chill perspective.

When Buffett realized patrons were coming in expecting a bar or food—the song was named after a mixed drink, after all—he opened a cafe adjacent to the store in late 1987. The configuration was ideal, and through the 1990s, Buffett and business partner John Cohlan began erecting Margaritaville locations in Florida, New Orleans, and eventually Las Vegas and New York. All told, more than 21 million people visit a Buffett-inspired hospitality destination every year.

A parrot at Margaritaville welcomes guests
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Margaritaville-branded tequila followed. So, too, did a line of retail foods like hummus, a book of short stories, massive resorts, a Sirius radio channel, and drink blenders. Buffett even wrote a 242-page script for a Margaritaville movie that he had hoped to film in the 1980s. It’s one of the very few Margaritaville projects that has yet to have come to fruition, but it might be hard for Buffett to complain much. In 2015, his entire empire took in $1.5 billion in sales.

As of late, Buffett has signed off on an Orlando resort due to open in 2018, offering “casual luxury” near the boundaries of Walt Disney World. (One in Hollywood, Florida, is already a hit, boasting a 93 percent occupancy rate.) Even for guests that aren’t particularly familiar with his music, “Jimmy Buffett” has become synonymous with comfort and relaxation just as surely as Walt Disney has with family entertainment. The association bodes well for a business that will eventually have to move beyond Buffett’s concert-going loyalists.

Not that he's looking to leave them behind. The 70-year-old Buffett is planning on a series of Margaritaville-themed retirement communities, with the first due to open in Daytona Beach in 2018. More than 10,000 Parrot Heads have already registered, eager to watch the sun set while idling in a frame of mind that Buffett has slowly but surely turned into a reality.

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Design
The Secret to the World's Most Comfortable Bed Might Be Yak Hair
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Tengi

Savoir Beds laughs at your unspooling mail-order mattresses and their promises of ultimate comfort. The UK-based company has teamed with London's Savoy Hotel to offer what they’ve declared is one of the most luxurious nights of sleep you’ll ever experience. 

What do they have that everyone else lacks? About eight pounds of Mongolian yak hair.

The elegantly-named Savoir No. 1 Khangai Limited Edition is part of the hotel’s elite Royal Suite accommodations. For $1845 a night, guests can sink into the mattress with a topper stuffed full of yak hair from Khangai, Mongolia. Hand-combed and with heat-dispensing properties, it takes 40 yaks to make one topper. In a press release, collaborator and yarn specialist Tengri claims it “transcends all levels of comfort currently available.”

Visitors opting for such deluxe amenities also have access to a hair stylist, butler, chef, and a Rolls-Royce with a driver.

Savoir Beds has entered into a fair-share partnership with the farmers, who receive an equitable wage in exchange for the fibers, which are said to be softer than cashmere. If you’d prefer to luxuriate like that every night, the purchase price for the bed is $93,000. Purchased separately, the topper is $17,400. Act soon, as only 50 of the beds will be made available each year. 

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

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