Spooky Halloween Drinks

Halloween is always a fun time for children – dressing up, going trick or treating, and eating way too much candy, but who says Halloween is just for kids? With Halloween coming up, it’s a perfect time to make some fun holiday drinks because adults often have just as much fun celebrating Halloween. Whether it’s a Halloween party, going through a haunted house, or spending the evening with your family, the Halloween season can be a blast for the adults too! Halloween is the perfect time to concoct some spooktacular drinks for your guests!

  • Candy Corn Jell-O Shots – Add a Halloween twist to your typical Jell-O shots! The first step will be to make the first and last layer of the candy corn shot. Pour 1 cup of water into a small saucepan and pour two packets of unflavored gelatin into the water. Heat the water and gelatin over low heat and stir occasionally until the gelatin has dissolved. Remove from the heat and add ½ can of condensed milk to the mixture and stir then add ⅔ cups vanilla vodka. Cover and set aside half of mixture. Distribute the first half of the mixture into 20 shots, filling each no more than ⅓ full. Then put these in the refrigerator for half an hour or until firm.
  • After the first layer is firm, pour another 1 cup of water into your saucepan and add 1 packet of gelatin to the middle layer. Heat the water until gelatin dissolves and remove from heat then stir in the box of orange Jell-O until it is dissolved. Then you can add ⅓ cup of vanilla vodka and evenly distribute the orange layer on top of the white layer and refrigerate until chilled. After this layer is firm, grab the second half of the milk mixture and add a few drops of yellow food coloring. Distribute your yellow layer on top of the orange and put it back into the fridge until set. After all the layers are firm, you can serve these fun shots to your guests!
1 small box orange-flavored Jell-O (3oz)
3 envelopes Knox unflavored gelatin
7oz. sweetened condensed milk (1/2 of a 14 oz. can)
2 cups water
1 cup vanilla or cake vodka (add more if you like strong shots)
Yellow food coloring
20 shot glasses/cups
  • Caramel Apple Sangria – This fruity drink tastes so much like a caramel apple, but with a fun twist! Mix caramel vodka, sweet apple cider, and crisp pinot grigio. Serve it chilled over ice then add chopped apple to each individual glass.
1 750 ml bottle of pinot grigio (or your favorite mild white wine)
1 cup caramel flavored vodka
6 cups apple cider
2 medium apples, cored and chopped
  • Rumchata Pumpkin Pie Pudding Shots – Whisk together the milk, Rumchata, and instant pudding mix in a bowl until combined. Then add in cool whip slowly with a whisk. Scoop the pudding mixture into shot glasses or cups with lids. Freeze for two hours then they’re ready to enjoy!
1 small Pkg. pumpkin spice instant pudding
3/4 Cup Milk
3/4 Cup Rumchata
8oz tub Cool Whip
  • Frog in the blender – Add a twist to your typical vodka cranberry by adding a lime and giving it a whirl in the blender!
I cup of ice
2 oz. vodka
4 oz. cranberry juice
2 lime wheels
  • Black Devil Martini – Stir and strain the dark rum and dry vermouth into chilled martini glass rimmed with orange sugar, then garnish with black olives.
2 oz. dark rum
1/2 oz. dry vermouth
black olive
orange sugar

These are just a few of the fun Halloween alcoholic drinks. What’s your favorite spooky drink to serve during the Halloween season?


Popping Tabs for the Ronald McDonald House!


Pop your tabs for the Ronald McDonald House Charities! The Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) help keep families with sick children close to their kids and provide the care and resources they need. Having a child fighting an illness can be tough on the family both financially and emotionally, but RMHC works to provide housing, finances for moving to a new city, and helps with medical and dental care in vulnerable communities. RMHC has chapters in more than 63 countries and regions. There are 359 Ronald McDonald Houses around the world!

A continuous fundraising program that the Ronald McDonald House Charities participates in is the pop tab collection program. The organization works with local recycling centers to receive money for collecting tabs from aluminum cans. You can donate the pop tabs to any McDonalds restaurant or a local Ronald McDonald House Charity.

Do you know why they collect pop tabs versus the whole cans? The pop tab is actually made entirely of aluminum whereas the can is a combination of metals, so you get more money from the pop tab than the can itself! The donated pop tabs are weighed to determine their value and then the recycling center sends the RMHC the value of the pop tabs. RMHC receives this money to help fund their programs. Yearly, RMHC serves more than 7 million children and families so by popping your pop tabs, you have the ability to help families across the world stay with their loved ones and give hope to a brighter future!

Do you want to get involved in helping the Ronald McDonald House? You can help out with the pop tab collection program by getting your family, friends, and coworkers involved in popping their tabs for the Ronald McDonald House!


An October Adventure to the Pumpkin Patch

As the leaves begin to change color along with the crisp autumn weather, many people love to go find the perfect pumpkin! A day full of wagon rides, corn mazes, and choosing the perfect pumpkin is a fun way to spend a fall October day!


Check out a few exciting pumpkin patches around the world:

  • Roloff Farms (Hillsboro, OR) – This farm has been featured on TLC’s reality show, “Little People, Big World.” The farm is home to several unique structures that have become popular tour destinations during the fall. With pumpkins of all shapes and sizes, you’ll be sure to find the perfect one even giants, blue/pink pumpkins, and “Ghost” pumpkins! Don’t miss the food corner and be sure to grab some fresh kettle corn! There are also wagon tours, pony rides, face painting, and an adventure area for the kids.
  • Cool Patch Pumpkins (Dixon, CA) – Are you ready to visit the home of the World Record Corn Maze? Go explore the Cool Patch Pumpkins where you will find a pumpkin patch featuring edible and non-edible pumpkins, gourds, squash, and more. The Fun Zone is a fun time for all ages whether its the mini maze, corn bath, trikes, hay castle, hay ride, or pumpkin cannon!
  • Peanuts Pumpkin Patch Express (Bryson City, NC) – The Peanuts characters have returned to the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad Pumpkin Patch! Don’t forget your costumes for this Halloween themed adventure! There will be a narration of Schulz’s “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” as the train travels to the pumpkin patch. Passengers will have a photo opportunity with Charlie Brown, Lucy, and Snoopy! During the layover, some fun activities include: roasting marshmallows, coloring, getting temporary tattoos, trick or treating, jumping in the bouncy house, and going for hayrides! Each child will get to choose their own pumpkin from the Great Pumpkin Patch to take home. This is the perfect pumpkin patch trip for the young ones!

What’s your favorite fall tradition? Pumpkin patches and apple orchards are definitely top choices around the nation!


Top High Energy Foods to Beat the Midday Snooze

All foods give you energy, but not all foods give you the same energy to keep you going throughout the day. Many people turn to coffee or sugary treats when their energy, but these effects are often short term and lead to a crash later. Snacks that provide the most energy are rich in protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates.

Here are some healthy foods that keep you energized much longer:


  • Nuts – Almonds, walnuts, cashews, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, and pistachios are just a few of the protein-filled nuts that give you an energy boost. Nuts are a great source of magnesium to convert sugar into energy fuel. Pistachios provide protein, fiber, and heart healthy monounsaturated fats to give you energy all day long. Since you have to remove the shell of pistachios, it is less likely that you will overeat.
  • Peanut Butter – Peanut butter contains healthy fats, protein, and fiber to keep hunger away. Just be sure to avoid peanut butters with added sugar or hydrogenated oils!


  • Leafy greens – Leafy greens such as spinach, romaine lettuce, and arugula are high in folate, which is a mood-enhancing nutrient. These vegetables all contain vitamin C to help you stay strong and healthy. You can add leafy greens into pastas, salads, soups, and sandwiches to boost your energy through the day.
  • Fruit – Fruit contains vitamin C, fiber, and natural sugar to boost your energy level. Frozen fruit or fresh fruit smoothies can be an easy way to add more fruit into your day. Bananas decelerate digestion and they are full of fiber, vitamin B, and potassium, so this fruit is a great snack to keep you going.
  • Dark Chocolate – Dark chocolate is full of antioxidants, natural sugars, and natural fats from the cacao bean.


  • Whole grains – Complex carbohydrates such as the whole grains in oatmeal, whole-wheat bread, and brown rice maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Your body primarily uses carbohydrates to fuel itself, so whole grains area critical aspect of creating natural energy throughout the day. Whole grains help you feel satisfied so you are less likely to turn toward sweets and empty carbohydrates.


  • Hummus – This fiber and protein filled snack is a perfect snack with veggies or pita chips to stabilize blood sugar, reduce hunger, and increase energy.
  • Greek yogurt – Greek yogurt has almost twice the amount of protein as regular yogurt. If you add nuts and fruit, it’s a prefect mix to give you more energy.


  • Water – Water may not be a food, but it’s important to drink enough water in order to stay energized. When you are dehydrated, you often feel tired and sluggish. Water regulates digestive and bodily functions, so it’s crucial to stay hydrated!

These are just a few of the many foods that you can eat to get more energy. It’s important to find snacks that have protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates in order to stay energized throughout the day!

Let us know your favorite high-energy snack in the comments!

Exciting and Healthy School Snacks

Now that school is back in full swing, it’s important that kids have the right snacks to fuel their bodies! It can be tricky to find healthy snacks that your children actually like, but with a little preparation, you can win them over with healthy snacks.

  • Ants on a log – This is a fun snack that kids can make that only involves three ingredients – celery, peanut butter, and raisins. It’s the prefect mix of veggies (celery), fruit (raisins), and protein (peanut butter)!


  • Smoothies – Smoothies can be a healthy and quick snack for children on the go. Whether it’s a strawberry, blueberry, or mango smoothie, you are sure to find one that your children love. This can be a simple way to get your child to eat more protein, fruit, and potentially veggies!


  • Pickles in a blanket – Spread cream cheese on a piece of turkey or ham then place a pickle in the middle and roll it up to make a simple snack!

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  • Apple moons or banana boats – Take sliced bananas or apples and put peanut butter and granola on the sides to create an apple moon or banana boat.


It’s important for snacks to include protein to helpkids feel fuller longer and have enough energy for all of their activities. Protein is vital for growing bodies and it helps build and repair lean muscles. Protein works with other nutrients such as calcium and vitamin D to build strong bones. A simple way to add some protein into your children’s snacls is with a glass of milk which is full of essential amino acids!


You can’t forget about the fruits and veggies! Fruits and veggies are low in fat, calories, sodium and cholesterol, and have a wide variety of health benefits. Although it can be tricky to get little ones to eat veggies, there are a few tricks to add more veggies into your children’s diet. You can hide the veggies in your cooking such as mixing cooked veggies into eggs, pasta, quesadillas, or smoothies. Let your kids help you with the shopping and try to see how many different color fruits and veggies you can incoroporate into a meal or snack. You can also introduce new veggies with a dip or hummus. Find a way to make fruits and veggies more exciting and you might be surprised if your kid finds a new favorite food!

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What is your favorite snack for your children?

Looking Back on State Fair Food

As many state fairs have recently come to a close, it’s fun to look back at some of the unique fair foods across the nation. State fairs are known for their unique food offerings especially deep fried food and food on a stick.

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Here are a few unique items at state fairs around the nation:

  • Spam sushi (Minnesota) – Grilled Spam, sushi rice, fried egg and wasabi are rolled in dried seaweed to create grilled Spam. The Spam Museum is in Austin, Minnesota, so this fair food ties well into the state’s Spam pride.
  • Spam curds (Minnesota) – The Minnesota State Fair has another unique Spam treat with Spam curds which are cubes of cheese-flavored Spam battered, deep-fried, and smothered in ranch dressing.
  • Fried Jelly beans (Massachusetts) – Jelly Belly beans are rolled in funnel cake batter and fried to create a unique sweet treat.
  • Alligator on a stick (Illinois) – This is a popular choice at the Illinois state fair. Alligator on a stick tastes like pork and has a similar texture to veal.
  • Deep Fried Scorpion (Arizona) – Scorpions are battered, fried, and served plain or dipped in chocolate.
  • Sautéed mealworms (Arizona) – Mealworms are cooked in olive oil, sautéed in garlic, and smothered in enough barbecue sauce to give a similar consistency to fried onions.
  • Fried Moon Pie (Texas) – This sugary treat includes a marshmallow and graham-cracker sandwich confection that’s deep-fried and sprinkled with powdered sugar.
  • Krispy Kreme Burgers (North Carolina) – A beef patty is sandwiched between two Krispy Kreme donuts with optional bacon and cheese to create a sweet and salty meal.
  • Hot Beef Sundae (Indiana) – A new type of sundae includes layered mashed potatoes, marinated beef, gravy, cheese, corn “sprinkles” and a cherry (tomato).
  • Deep fried butter (Texas) – You can even get some deep fried butter at the Texas state fair. Butter is battered and flash friend to create a warm biscuit with a buttery center.

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These are just a few of the unique food offerings at fairs around the nation this year. You can always find cheese curds, mini donuts, corn dogs, and the typical fair food, but it’s always fun to try something new.

Which fair food is your favorite and which unique fair food did you try this year?

The Future of Payment Methods at the Vending Machine

How do you think people pay for items at the vending machine in the future? The vending industry has continuously changed over the years including the ways you can pay for items at the vending machines. While cash has been the most common payment method at a machine over history, there are a variety of other payment methods at vending machines:

  • Google Wallet – This payment method allows you to send and receive money instantly to anyone in the U.S. using an email address or phone number. It’s free and easy to use because all you need is the Google Wallet app and you can send money from your debit card, bank account, or Wallet Balance. With Google Wallet, you can “Tap and Pay” at some vending machines and the machine with charge the amount to your Google Wallet account.
  • Apple Pay – Apple Pay is a simple and safe way to pay using your mobile device Through Apple Pay, you can use your cards with just a touch to purchase an item from the vending machine.
  • Credit card readers – Many vending machines allow you to pay with your credit card and debit card. This is handy for those days when you realize you don’t have any cash on you.
  • Pay Range – This simple mobile payment system allows you to “swipe” on your mobile device for an item when you are within arm’s length from the machine. The Pay Range App does not send any of your personal information to the vending machine so it is considered a very secure payment option.
  • Yoke – Yoke is a payment system that takes the mobile wallet one step further by offering complete control with real time inventory tracking, data collection, and mobile self-checkout.

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These are just a few of the many current payment options at vending machines, but there are many others. As we go into the near future, mobile payments will continue to become more popular. The world is continually becoming more digital and vending machines will stay up to date with this trend.

Let us know how you think you’ll be purchasing items at the vending machine in the future!

Snacks are Becoming the New Breakfast

What do you typically eat for breakfast? Today, almost 25% of people are snacking instead of eating a full meal for breakfast. This trend is especially popular for younger adults and those with children in the household. Consumers embrace snacking and people are now eating smaller, more frequent meals. This has changed people’s relationship with traditional breakfast foods.

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Today, people are turning to quick, grab-and-go breakfast snacks throughout the day. With little time in your day, it can be difficult to spend extra time in the morning to cook a full breakfast so breakfast snacks all you to get a quick meal to start the day.

Some popular breakfasts snacks include:

  • Yogurt and granola
  • Smoothies
  • Granola/protein bars
  • Muffins
  • Fruit
  • Leftovers from previous meals

Breakfast is no longer limited to a single meal in the morning, but people are eating breakfast foods throughout the day. Many restaurants such as McDonald’s and Taco Bell are fueling this trend by providing breakfast all day long. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so be sure to start your day off with a breakfast that will give you energy for the day!

What are some of your favorite breakfast foods?

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The Sweet History of Chocolate

Happy chocolate day! Today is the day you can express your love of this sweet treat. America’s favorite flavor is chocolate. Whether it is chocolate candy, ice cream, desserts, or snacks, it’s the perfect day to indulge in this sweet treat.

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In order to celebrate a day dedicated to the sweet treat, it’s fun to look back on its history. Chocolate originated from Latin America. The Olmec are considered to be the first people to use chocolate around 1000 BC, but it is unknown how or if the Olmec actually used chocolate. From about 250 to 900 AD, the Mayans used chocolate quite a bit. Cacao beans were used as a currency and in religious rituals. The rich prepared chocolate as a beverage every once in a while but chocolate was not consumed very often.

The Aztecs kept the chocolate tradition alive by drinking chocolate from 1200 to 1500. In 1519, Cortez and others discovered cacao, but they despised it since it was bitter without sugar, so they continued using it as currency. The Spaniards had kept chocolate to themselves for a while, as it was considered a health food and a medicine. Doctors believed that it could cure fevers, cool the body, improve digestion, and reduce pain and the church said that it was a nutritional supplement while fasting.

It wasn’t long before chocolate made its way to Europe and demand quickly increased. Slaves worked on cacao plantations to help meet this demand. As more chocolate was produced, chocolate prices decreased and more people had access to it. In 1850, Joseph Fry added more cacao butter to cacao powder and sugar to create the first solid chocolate. In 1875, Daniel Peter and Henri Nestle added condensed milk to solid chocolate to create a milk chocolate bar. This was just the beginning of the chocolate craze that would spread across the world. The chocolate industry is over $35 billion dollars today!

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Chocolate comes from the cacao bean from cacao trees in tropical rain forests, so it is technically a vegetable! In fact, the cacao bean is one of the most powerful superfoods in the world. Cacao beans are packed with antioxidants, magnesium, iron, chromium, manganese, zinc, fiber, omega 6 fatty acids, and vitamin C. These antioxidants protect the body from aging caused by free radicals, which can cause damage that leads to heart disease. Dark chocolate can lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol. Chocolate stimulates endorphin production which gives a feeling of pleasure. It contains serotonin, which acts as an anti-depressant, and theobromine/caffeine which act as stimulants.

Here are some ideas to add more chocolate into your day:

  • Breakfast – chocolate chip pancakes, glazed chocolate donuts, chocolate cereal, chocolate muffins, chocolate covered bacon or chocolate crepes
  • Lunch or Dinner – grilled chocolate sandwich (bread, chocolate chips, and  banana), chocolate chicken, or chocolate soup
  • Snacks – chocolate covered fruit, chocolate covered nuts, chocolate covered pretzels, chocolate chip bread, or chocolate dipped potato chips
  • Dessert/Treats – cake, cupcakes, cookies, or candy bars
  • Drinks – chocolate milk, hot chocolate, chocolate liquor, or chocolate shakes

Enjoy chocolate day and let us know how you’re celebrating the day!

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Photographing Your Food

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Did you know that posting your food on Instagram is scientifically proven to have benefits? According to a study in the Journal of Consumer Marketing, there are benefits that come with taking pictures of the food we eat. By taking a picture of your food it forces you to have to wait before eating and this gives you delayed gratification, making you feel that the food actually tastes better. This is the case for indulgent or fancier meals, but not necessarily the case for simple meals such as cereal or toast. Food photographs can also increase excitement for a meal by sharing it with your friends and family.

People tend to take pictures of their food for a variety of reasons but some common reasons include:

  • To remember a special event
  • To share a meal you are proud  that you made yourself  (Most common reason)
  • To share a meal to show that someone important made for you
  • It’s a special treat or unique meal
  • It looks beautiful or like art
  • To show that you are eating healthy meals

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According to a web psychologist, Digital Blonde, the most common food dishes to be posted are: art dish, steak, and Christmas dinner. In terms of treats, the most common desserts that people post are cake, chocolate pudding, and fruit dessert. Some people don’t just consider the finished product on a plate of the people eating it, but also the ingredients used to make the product.

Some popular food photography include:

  • The lonely food item – Bloggers have embraced melancholic food by taking a picture of a single food item against a plain background with soft window light.
  • The Flash – Some people use flash in food photography to add color to the image. This trend is often used in advertisements and commercials. When using flash for food photography, it’s important to use caution to ensure that the images show the real qualities of the food.
  • #struggleplate – This is a funny food trend that has become popular over the past year to show food failures, but if this is a trend you
  • #foodporn – This is a popular hashtag on Twitter and Instagram to share delicious food and meals. This has been included in advertisements, cooking shows, blogs, and all over social media.

The trend of taking pictures of food is especially important for restaurant owners. People are taking photographs of their food before they even eat the meal. If the meal is displayed attractively, the consumer is more likely to snap a picture and share it with their friends. The challenge is to create savory dishes and meals that have the greatest create discussions and food photography.

Let us know in the comments if you ever take pictures of your food. If so, what types of food do you tend to take pictures of and do you share the pictures with your friends?