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10 Gourmet Facts About the Cheesecake Factory

The Cheesecake Factory has never been known as a restaurant to skimp on the size of its menu or the size of its portions. Enjoy this full menu of facts about the Calabasas Hills-based restaurant chain while contemplating which variety of cheesecake will be your next slice.

1. THE ORIGINAL RECIPE FOR THE FIRST CHEESECAKE WAS PRINTED IN THE NEWSPAPER.

Housewife Evelyn Overton of Detroit was searching for a recipe for the dessert when she found one in her local paper. Her cheesecake earned such rave reviews with family and friends that she began making them in her basement and selling them to local restaurants.

2. THE OVERTONS HEADED WEST TO START THEIR BUSINESS.

After her two children were grown, Evelyn and her husband moved to Los Angeles and put all their savings into a bakery called The Cheesecake Factory Bakery. Evelyn’s desserts were soon being sold throughout the city and the selection grew to more than 20 varieties.

3. EVELYN'S SON, DAVID, STILL SERVES AS THE COMPANY'S CEO.

Before becoming a cheesecake mogul, David played drums professionally and used his musical talents to help pay for his tuition at Wayne State University in Detroit. When he saw that his parents needed help selling their cheesecakes, he retired his drumsticks and opened the first full-menu location of the Cheesecake Factory in Beverly Hills in 1978.

4. CUSTOMERS CAME FOR THE CHEESECAKE AND STAYED FOR THE ENTREES.

According to David, the desserts were always meant to be the focal point of the restaurant’s menu (hence the name), and he describes his mom’s dessert as “the Cadillac of cheesecakes.” When the full restaurant opened, customers waited in line, even on the first day, for a slice. "I wanted to prove to other restaurateurs that people would enjoy a restaurant with a large dessert menu," he told the Los Angeles Times.

5. THE OVERTONS ALSO OWN TWO OTHER RESTAURANT CONCEPTS.

Grand Lux Cafe is David Overton's take on the classic European cafe, and RockSugar Pan Asian Kitchen is the result of a partnership between Overton and Singapore-raised chef Mohan Ismail. In total, there are 12 Grand Lux Cafes and one RockSugar restaurant, located in L.A.

6. ALL OF THE CHEESECAKES SOLD ACROSS THE COUNTRY ARE MADE IN TWO BAKERIES. 

Getty

There are 186 Cheesecake Factory locations across the country, but facilities in Calabasas Hills, California and Rocky Mount, North Carolina, are responsible for baking the 50 types of cheesecake the restaurant serves, which include salted caramel, peanut butter cup fudge ripple, lemon raspberry cream, and the one that started it all.

7. IF YOU CAN'T MAKE IT TO A RESTAURANT, YOU CAN ALWAYS SHIP A CHEESECAKE TO YOURSELF.

In partnership with direct-mail gourmet gift gurus Harry & David, 21 flavors of Cheesecake Factory cheesecake are available to deliver directly to your door. Some varieties start at $49.99, which isn't too bad if you want to really impress some company with your sudden baking prowess. For those who need cheesecake more regularly in their life, there is also the Cheesecake of the Month club.

8. OVERTON DOESN'T CARE HOW LARGE THE MENU IS, AS LONG AS IT'S ALL THINGS THE CUSTOMER LIKES.

"We have always said that whatever America wants to eat can go on the Cheesecake Factory menu," Overton has said. The current tally of the number of food items available at any Cheesecake Factory sits at around 250, and all menu options have gone directly through Overton. "My taste buds represent that of the regular people we have dining at our restaurants," he said in 2012. "If I love the food, it goes in the menu." And while the food isn’t necessarily known for being low in calories or fat, 90 million customers found it delicious enough to earn the company $1.9 billion in 2014.

9. ITS EMPLOYEES ARE NOT JUST FANS OF THE RESTAURANT'S DESSERTS, BUT THE COMPANY ITSELF AS WELL.

A corporate health plan that is available to all employees and their immediate families, as well as three-week paid sabbaticals for every five years of service at the corporate level led the Cheesecake Factory to be included on Fortune’s list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For in both 2014 and 2015.

10. A WEEKLY $5000 TAB AT THE CHEESECAKE FACTORY IS ONE OF THE THINGS THAT LED TO BANKRUPTCY FOR A FORMER NFL PLAYER.

When Vince Young’s lawyer revealed that the former quarterback for the Tennessee Titans was close to broke (after earning $26 million in six years) in 2012, a Nashville radio show found that a large portion of his income had gone to covering outrageous tabs at chain restaurants. Young is said to have treated seven or eight of his teammates to dinner at the Factory multiple times a week—but still, $5000 is a lot of slices of cheesecake.

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job secrets
13 Secrets of Halloween Costume Designers
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For consumers, Halloween may be all about scares, but for businesses, it’s all about profits. According to the National Retail Federation, consumers will spend $9.1 billion this year on spooky goods, including a record $3.4 billion on costumes. “It’s an opportunity to be something you’re not the other 364 days of the year,” Jonathan Weeks, CEO of Costumeish.com, tells Mental Floss. “It feels like anything goes.”

To get a better sense of what goes into those lurid, funny, and occasionally outrageous disguises, we spoke to a number of designers who are constantly trying to react to an evolving seasonal market. Here’s what we learned about what sells, what doesn’t, and why adding a “sexy” adjective to a costume doesn’t always work.

1. SOME COSTUMES ARE JUST TOO OUTRAGEOUS FOR RETAIL

A woman models a scary nun costume for Halloween
iStock

For kids, Halloween is a time to look adorable in exchange for candy. For adults, it’s a time to push the envelope. Sometimes that means provocative, revealing costumes; other times, it means going for shock value. “You get looks at a party dressed as an Ebola worker,” Weeks says. “We have pregnant nun costumes, baby cigarette costumes.” The catch: You won’t be finding these at Walmart. “They’re meant for online, not Spencer’s or Party City.”

2. … BUT THERE ARE SOME LINES THEY WON’T CROSS.

Homeowners are scared by trick-or-treaters on Halloween
iStock

Although Halloween is the one day of the year people can deploy a dark sense of humor without inviting personal or professional disaster, some costume makers draw their own line when it comes to how far to exceed the boundaries of good taste. “We’ve never done a child pimp costume, but someone else has,” says Robert Berman, co-founder of Rasta Imposta, a business that broke into the industry on the strength of their fake dreadlock wig in 1992. Weeks says some questionable ideas that have been brought to the discussion table have stayed there. “There’s no toddler KKK costume or baby Nazi costume,” he says. “There is a line.”

3. THEY CAN DESIGN AND PRODUCE A COSTUME IN A MATTER OF DAYS.

A man models a costume in front of a mirror
Rob Stothard/Getty Images

A lot of costume interest comes from what’s been making headlines in the fall: Costumers have to be ready to meet that demand. “We’re pretty good at being able to react quickly,” says Pilar Quintana, vice-president of merchandising for Yandy.com. “Something happening in April may not be strong enough to stick around for Halloween.”

Because the mail-order site has in-house models and isn’t beholden to approval from big box vendors, Quintana can design and photograph a costume so it’s available within 72 hours. If it's more elaborate, it can take a little longer: Both Yandy and Weeks had costumes inspired by the Cecil the Lion story that broke in July 2015 (in which a trophy hunter from Minnesota killed an African lion) on their sites in a matter of weeks.

4. BEYONCE CAN HELP MOVE STALE INVENTORY.

A screen shot from Formation, a music video featuring Beyonce
beyonceVEVO, YouTube

Extravagant custom tailoring jobs aside, Halloween costumes are a business of instant demand and instant gratification—inventory needs to be plentiful in order to fill the deluge of orders that come in a short frame of time. If a business miscalculates the popularity of a given theme, they might be stuck with overstock until they can find a better idea to hang on it. “Last year, we had 400 or 500 Zorro costumes that we couldn’t sell for $10,” Weeks says. “It had a big black hat that came with it, and I thought, ‘That looks familiar.’ It turned out it looked a lot like the one Beyonce wore in her ‘Lemonade’ video.” Remarketed as a "Formation" hat for Beyonce cosplayers, Weeks moved his stock.

5. WOMEN DON’T USUALLY WEAR MASKS.

A man tries on a Joker mask at a retail store
Rhona Wise/Getty Images

Curiously, there’s a large gender gap when it comes to the sculpted latex monster masks offered by Halloween vendors: They’re sold almost exclusively to men. “There just aren’t a lot of masks with female characters,” Weeks says. “I don’t know why that is. Maybe it’s because men in general like gory, scary costumes.” One exception: Hillary Clinton masks, which were all the rage last year.

6. FOOD COSTUMES ARE ALWAYS A HIT.

A dog wears a hot dog costume for Halloween
iStock

At Rasta Imposta, Berman says political and pop culture trends can shift their plans, but one theme is a constant: People love to dress up as food. “We’ve had big success with food items. Bananas, pickles. We did an avocado.” Demand for these faux-edible costumes can occasionally get ugly: Rasta is currently suing Sears and Kmart for selling a banana costume that they allege infringes on Rasta’s copyrighted version, which has blackened ends and a vertical stripe.

7. ADDING ”SEXY” TO EVERYTHING DOESN’T ALWAYS WORK.

A packaged Halloween costume hangs on a store rack
Saul Loeb/Getty Images

It’s a recurring joke that some costume makers only need to add a “sexy” adjective to a design concept in order to make it marketable. While there’s some truth to that—Quintana references Yandy’s “sexy poop emoji” costume—it’s no guarantee of success. “We had a concept for ‘sexy cheese’ that was a no-go,” she says. “'Sexy corn’ didn’t really work at all. ‘Sexy anti-fascist’ didn’t make the cut this year.”

8. PEOPLE ASK FOR SOME WEIRD STUFF.

A person appears in a skull costume with glowing eyes for Halloween
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

In addition to monitoring social media for memes and trends, designers can get an idea of what consumers are looking for by shadowing their online searches. Costumeish.com monitors what people are typing into their search bar to see if they’re missing out on a potential hit. “People search for odd things sometimes,” Weeks says. “People want to be a cactus, a palm tree, they’re looking for a priest and a boy costume. People can be weird.”

9. THEY HAVE WORKAROUNDS FOR BIG PROPERTIES.

Go out to a party this year and you’re almost guaranteed to run into the Queen of the North. But not every costume maker has the official license for Game of Thrones. What are other companies to do? Come up with a design that sparks recognition without sparking a lawsuit. “Our biggest seller right now is Sexy Northern Queen,” Quintana says. “It’s inspired by a TV show.” But she won’t say which one.

10. PEOPLE LOVE SHARKS.

Singer Katy Perry appears on stage with two dancing sharks
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

From the clunky Ben Cooper plastic costume from 1975’s Jaws to today, people can’t seem to get enough of shark-themed outfits. “We do a lot of sharks,” Berman says. “Maybe it’s because of Shark Week in the summertime, but sharks always tend to trend. People just like the idea of sharks.”

11. DEAD CELEBRITIES MEAN SALES.

A portrait of Hugh Hefner hangs in the Playboy Mansion
Hector Mata/Getty Images

It may be morbid, but it’s a reality: The high-profile passing of celebrities, especially close to Halloween, can trigger a surge in sales. “Before Robin Williams died, I couldn’t sell a Mork costume for a dollar,” Weeks says. “After he died, I couldn’t not sell it for less than $100.” This year, designers expect Hugh Hefner to fuel costume ideas—unless something else pops up suddenly to grab their attention. “Last year, when Prince died, that was almost trumped by [presidential debate audience member] Ken Bone,” Berman says. “He became almost more popular than Prince.”

12. THEY PROFIT FROM PEOPLE SHOPPING AT THE LAST MINUTE.

A man shops for Halloween costumes in a retail store
Frederic J. Brown/Getty Images

Ever wonder why food and other novelty costumes tend to outsell traditional garb like pirates and witches? Because costume shopping for adults is usually done frantically and they don’t have time to compare 25 different Redbeards. “People tend to do it at the very last minute, so we want something that pops out at them,” Berman says. “Like, ‘Oh, I want to be a crab.’”

Weeks agrees that procrastination is profitable. “We make a lot of money on shipping,” he says. “Some people get party invites on the 25th and so they’re paying for next-day air.”

13. IT’S NOT ACTUALLY A SEASONAL BUSINESS.

A woman shops for costumes in a retail store
Rhona Wise/Getty Images

Everyone we spoke to agreed that the most surprising thing about the Halloween business is that it’s not really seasonal on their end. Costumes are designed year-round, and planning can take between 12 and 18 months. “It’s 365 days a year,” Quintana says. “We’ll start thinking about next Halloween in December.” Weeks says he'll begin planning in May 2018—for Halloween 2019.

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This Just In
Target Expands Its Clothing Options to Fit Kids With Special Needs
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Target

For kids with disabilities and their parents, shopping for clothing isn’t always as easy as picking out cute outfits. Comfort and adaptability often take precedence over style, but with new inclusive clothing options, Target wants to make it so families don’t have to choose one over the other.

As PopSugar reports, the adaptive apparel is part of Target’s existing Cat & Jack clothing line. The collection already includes items made without uncomfortable tags and seams for kids prone to sensory overload. The latest additions to the lineup will be geared toward wearers whose disabilities affect them physically.

Among the 40 new pieces are leggings, hoodies, t-shirts, bodysuits, and winter jackets. To make them easier to wear, Target added features like diaper openings for bigger children, zip-off sleeves, and hidden snap and zip seams near the back, front, and sides. With more ways to put the clothes on and take them off, the hope is that kids and parents will have a less stressful time getting ready in the morning than they would with conventionally tailored apparel.

The new clothing will retail for $5 to $40 when it debuts exclusively online on October 22. You can get a sneak peek at some of the items below.

Adaptive jacket from Target.
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Adaptive apparel from Target.

Adaptive apparel from Target.

Adaptive apparel from Target.

[h/t PopSugar]

All images courtesy of Target.

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