Roadtrip: How my family discovered the best Midwest Dessert Experiences (and how we found them)

Updated: 19 hours ago

Have you ever walked into a place, ordered something and then when it arrived, you were certain you could hear angels singing and golden beams of light coming off the food?  That is what it is like when you get your S’More Chocolate Shake at Bombobar in Old Town Chicago.  


Let me explain.


This summer, my family went on an epic road trip.  And by “epic” I mean 4,000 kilometres, 2,000 of which were packed in a minivan with 5 kids.  Yes, that’s right: it was the Swiss Family Robinson on wheels. As lovely as things seem to go in classic novels and sitcoms, at times our trip was a grind.  


Since wine wasn’t as an option for the under-14 set and the driver, I had to settle for the next best thing: sugar.  


So that’s what we did, and just because I am such a giving person (though clearly that was already established), I’m going to tell you all about a few of these places we visited for a sugar fix (just in case you ever find yourself on losing your mind in the Midwest), and the interesting ways we actually found these gems.


Let’s go back to Bombobar in Chicago…


The S’more Chocolate shake  ACTUALLY HAS GOLD FLECKS ON IT. And the gold flecks are nestled upon a cloud of cotton candy located beside a toasted marshmallow and a double chocolate cookie.  Let’s not forget about the donut around the straw either. Nothing has ever been more deserving of the moniker #foodporn.


But let’s say you’ve gone deeper into the Midwest, like Minnesota. 


There is this magical place in Minneapolis called Milk Jam Creamery that makes ice cream sandwiches that look like delicious sugary melting hamburgers.  Only the middle is wacky, delicious homemade ice cream and the bun is a fresh-made (as in, “I’m still warm so I’m accidentally melting your ice cream” fresh) sugar-coated donut sliced in half.  To top off the whole experience, they’ve got a neon sign in the shape of a speech bubble that says “I heart ice cream.” #instagramable


If you are an observant eater, you will note that the crack-infused donut that encases your new favourite ice cream is made by a donut shop only a couple blocks away from the actual ice cream shop. 


My friends, if you love yourself, go to the donut shop.


Glam Doll Donuts will change your life.

They have a donut that has an entire stick of bacon on top. New York cheesecake donut? Check. Triple fudge?  You betcha. And the added bonus after all this sugar in one go is that your children will be in a food coma the second you get back on the interstate.



You’re welcome.


These places completed delighted us (though, not our waistlines), and we’re STILL talking about those experiences weeks later.


So, how did we find these places?

Instagram.


Yep. Clever hashtags and collaborations drew us to the places that created these insane dessert experiences.


This is how we found – and fell in love with – these three places:


1. They encourage audience participation. 


Bombobar used specific hashtags and encouraged customers to do the same. They monitored these hashtags, replied in the comments and even re-grammed some of their fans’ posts.  When you interact with your fans, not only do you start to feel a connection with each other, but also newcomers see your product or work and want to be a part of the magic.  It was thanks to this strategy that we came across Bombobar in Chicago.


2. Make your space or product relatable.  


Think back to the super cool sign at Milk Jam Creamery.  

We saw that sign on Instagram and we needed to go. 


3. Connect with other businesses that share your space and cheer for each other online.  


Milk Jam and Glam Doll both used hashtags and @tags to make sure everyone on Instagram knows about their match made in heaven, which in turn widens their reach and grows their community


Conclusion

So, that’s how we came across these places when we needed them most during our travels. And the social media lessons I learned from them. Because who doesn’t need something to look forward to on a road trip, something to soothe, and most importantly, something to get the kids to be quiet?

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