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!

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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!

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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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Millennial Parents Shaping the Snack Industry

The world of snacking is constantly changing as new trends emerge. The snacking habits of millennial parents are forever changing the snacking industry. Millennial parents have been choosing healthier options for their families and letting their families be a part of the decision making process.

Millennials are eating more snacks than any other group. Food Navigator stated that the sales of snacks have grown more than 3% a year since 2008. Millennials snack during meal times more than any other generations. There is a trend for Millennials to have snacks as a meal replacement for breakfast, lunch, and dinner more than any other generation. So not only are Millennials snacking more frequently, they are replacing traditional meals with snacks which have helped Grab and go food items succeed.

According to Packaged Facts, there are three mega trends shaping the children’s food industry:

  1. Industry players must consider the generational influence of the millennial parent on the children’s food and beverage market.
  2. Manufacturers and marketers consider ethnicity and  race for food and beverage products.
  3. There is an increased focus on nutrition through stealth- health and real food movements. Many food companies are sneaking fruits and vegetables into kid-friendly foods. Parents are more likely to buy foods with healthy terms such as clean, local, and organic.

Millennials want healthier snacks. This generation has grown up in the obesity crisis with the media pushing them to find healthier options. Millennials are reading product labels more than any other generation to find products with low calories, no trans fats, no added salt, etc. This generation is looking to more natural options such as fruits and vegetables. Millennials are strongly influencing the flavors of snacks with a desire for more complex, bold, and spicy flavors.

With these trends in mind, it is easier for the snack food industry to reach millennial consumers. Some common snack trends for Millennial parents are: low-prep and prepackaged meal replacements, high protein snacks, healthier snacks with lower fat and sugar, and convenient on-the-go options. In terms of snacks, millennial moms prefer snacks that have no artificial ingredients.  Bars, nuts, yogurt, and chips are being sold at a record rate. Chips and chocolate are still the most popular, but healthier options are making up a larger percentage of snack choices.

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Food Delivery by Drones

How cool would it be to have a drone deliver your food? Well, this fantasy is becoming a reality! Companies have tested drone deliveries during the past couple of years to find ways to deliver food quickly to customers. Just think of it – drones will be able to deliver food within 20 minutes and restaurants will no longer have to worry about deliveries being delayed in traffic.

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With today’s technology, drones have already carried a wide variety of food including:

  • Pizza
  • Tacos
  • Burritos
  • Alcohol (Beer, champagne, bottle service, etc.)
  • Coca Cola

Check out the video of a Francesco’s Pizza Delivery in Mumbai

The logistics of food delivery has always been difficult for restaurant owners due to the high costs and variable workload, but drones may be the answer restaurants are looking for to solve these problems. Drones need to be able to carry the required amount of weight without a human controller in order to be cost effective. An issue associated with drones is weather capacity. Drones are currently limited to good weather, but as technology improves, companies will continue to solve this issue.

According to Ralf Wenzel, drone technology will be introduced throughout all 24 markets covered by Foodpanda, including Singapore, Hong Kong, India, Thailand, and Malaysia. Foodpanda will be the first to deliver and Amazon is predicted to follow with consumer products. Google’s goal is to have the commercial business of drone delivery up and running in 2017.

Let us know if you’re excited for your food to be delivered by drones! What’s the first thing you want a drone to bring you?

Best Ways to Spice Up Your Typical PB&J Sandwich

Do you ever get tired of your typical peanut butter and jelly sandwich? Are you looking for new, easy lunch ideas for your kids? If you answered yes to either of these questions, check out some easy ways to make your typical peanut butter and jelly more exciting. Some combinations seem unusual, but you might be surprised to find a new favorite to spice up your PB&J sandwich.

  • Peanut butter and pickle sandwich – Peanut butter and pickles may seem like an unusual combination, but the slightly sweet and salty flavors bring out a unique result. Try it for yourself and let us know what you think!

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  • Peanut butter and banana sandwich – By adding slices of banana to your peanut butter sandwich, you can easily Bananas are full of vitamin B6, vitamin C, manganese, potassium, fiber, biotin, and copper, so you are sure to get many more nutrients in this simple meal. For extra flavor, you can add a little honey!

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  • Apple peanut butter sandwich – Cut an apple into horizontal sections then put peanut butter, chocolate chips, and nuts on top. As they say, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” This is a nutritional and delicious meal that you won’t want to miss out on.

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  • French toast peanut butter and jelly sandwich – To switch things up, you can make French toast then apply your peanut butter and jelly. If you are making lunch for your kids, this is one you will definitely want to try!

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  • Waffle/pancake peanut butter and jelly sandwich – Another easy recipe is to switch out your bread for waffles or pancakes. This is another one that kids will definitely love!

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  • Peanut butter and Nutella sandwich – For all the chocolate lovers, this sandwich is for you. Put peanut butter and Nutella on your sandwich to add a little sweetness to your meal!

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  • Peanut butter and bacon sandwich – If you love bacon, try this unique combination. You can even add some bananas to the sandwich to make an Elvis sandwich!

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  • Cinnamon raisin peanut butter sandwich – Use cinnamon raisin bread to add a little sweetness to your sandwich. Another alternative is to add some cinnamon and raisins to your peanut butter bread.

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  • Peanut butter, cheese, and grilled bacon sandwich – This is another unique sandwich that you don’t want to miss. This one is called Elvis’ grilled cheese sandwich. With melty cheese and gooey peanut butter, you might be surprised to find a new favorite.

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Let us know below if you’ve tried any of these sandwiches before or if you see any that you want to try!

4 Ways to Celebrate Leap Day

Leap Day only comes once every four years so be sure to make this day count! Here are four ways to make this the best Leap Day yet.

1. Create a Time Capsule!

Create a time capsule that you cannot open for the next four years until the next Leap Day. Include items that remind you of the present including newspaper or magazine clippings, pictures, event ticket stubs, a list of everything you did to celebrate Leap Day, and anything else that would be fun to see in four years. In addition to making a time capsule, make a list of all the things you want to accomplish in the next four years before the next leap year. You can put a copy of this list in your time capsule so you can see how much you accomplished over the years. By creating a time capsule, you are able to capture the moment and excitement of the uniqueness of Leap Day!

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2. Get Moving and Leap for Leap Day!

Leap Day is a great day to get moving. One fun way is to take a dance class or go out dancing with friends. You can also sign up for a Leap Day 5k or 10k. Being active has so many health benefits and there are ways that it can be very fun. Take advantage of the fact that Leap Day only comes once every four years and make this day count to be the start of an active lifestyle. Leap for joy!

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3. Leap into a New Activity

Do you ever feel like you need an excuse to try something new? If so, let Leap Day be your excuse to do something spontaneous. Organize a game day with friends to play your favorite games or host a “Leap Day” movie party. Take advantage of this extra day to cross something off your bucket list, try a new activity, or do something exciting and out of the ordinary.

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4. Celebrate Leap Day Birthdays!

If you have any friends or family members with a Leap Day birthday, celebrate their birthday with their Leap Day age. For example, you can celebrate an adult’s birthday by going to Skyzone, playing laser tag, or roller skating. This is a fun way to break out of the norm and add some laughter into the day. Laughter is one of the best ways to reduce stress, so make this an exciting and fun day.

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Let us know how you are celebrating Leap Day!

Are Your Vending Machines ADA Compliant?

 

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In July 2010, the Department of Justice (DOJ) issued new regulations that require ADA compliance for vending machines. These requirements aimed to make vending machines more accessible to people with disabilities, and the prominent industry track group, the National Automatic Merchandising Assoc. (NAMA), strongly supports the goals of the Americans with Disability Act (ADA). What does this mean to you? Here are just a few things that you need to know:

  • New ADA guidelines went in effect March 15, 2012 and are applicable to:
    • Public entities such as state or local government and any of its departments, agencies or instrumentalities
    • Private entities that operate public accommodations such as retail, hotels, hospitals, recreational facilities and schools
    • Safe harbor rules may apply; You do not have to replace existing vending machines with new ADA compliant machines unless the location undergoes alterations or the vending machines are removed, re-installed and/or upgraded
  • Operating parts such as the coin/bill acceptor and product delivery box must be no higher than 48” and no less than 15” from the floor
  • One of each type of vending machine must comply (i.e., one beverage, one snack, etc.)
  • Courts may award monetary damages and impose penalties of up to $55,000 for a first violationADA Compliancy

Please consult legal counsel on how the ADA rules affect your facility or contact us if you have any further questions!

8 Valentine’s Day Ideas that Both of You Will Appreciate

8 Valentine's Day Ideas

  1. Breakfast in Bed
    How often does anyone get to enjoy breakfast in bed? Not very often! But this is a great opportunity to impress him/her. Here are a few Valentine’s Breakfast ideas.
    Breakfast in Bed
  2. Surprise Him/Her with A Decorated Room!
    Surprises don’t have to be all out there, even small gestures, like decorating his/her room is as sweet as ever. And you don’t need to spend much on all the pink deco in the stores that you see, just make some yourself! Boost your imagination with these DIY Decor Ideas.
    Decorate their Room
  3. Make a Homemade Valentine’s Card
    Cards, flowers and chocolates hike up in prices over Valentine’s week. Although they are classic Valentine’s Day gifts, nothing shows how much you care more than a homemade card from the heart. Check out these simple card ideas to make beautiful cards with what you have at home.
    Make a homemade card
  4. Go for a Picnic
    Most people plan ahead for days and weeks for Valentines dinner, but most overlook lunch. Why not plan a picnic for lunch and be creative with your location choice! If it’s nice out, head to a park or to the zoo! If it’s rainy or too cold, you could even have a picnic indoors! Here are a few ideas for you if you need some inspiration for outdoor picnics or indoor picnics.
    Go for a picnic
  5. Spend the Afternoon Making Gifts for Each Other
    Instead of buying expensive presents for each other, how about spending the afternoon showing off your creativity and also getting to spend time with your significant other? It’ll be fun! Need some inspiration for crafty gifts? Click here.
    Make gifts for one another
  6. Cook a Wholesome Dinner Together
    It can be really difficult to get reservations for dinner on Valentine’s Day, and eating out can get pretty pricey too. This year, stay home and cook dinner together! That way, you both have more options and it’s a lot more fun than waiting for someone else to cook your food. Don’t cook very often? That’s okay! Check out this YouTube Playlist or this Recipe Menu for more ideas.
    Cook dinner together
  7. Take a Stroll Under the Stars
    Now that dinner is over, don’t go straight home; head outside for a walk under the pretty stars with your significant other! It’s good to walk a little after meals AND it’s definitely going to be a romantic time well spent together 🙂Take a stroll at night
  8. Send a Care Package
    In a long distance relationship or busy throughout some period on Valentine’s Day? Send over a care package to show them how much you love and miss them! You could pick & choose one from the options there are online OR you could make one on your own! Here are some Care Package ideas.
    Send a care package

That’s our list! You also need to check out this really cool Coke Valentine’s Vending Machine which only appears to couples 🙂

HAVE A WONDERFUL VALENTINES DAY 🙂

Happy Valentine's Day!

Making Better Choices at the Vending Machine

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From candy bars to fresh apple slices, the options we get at vending machines today are as diversified as ever before. With the increasing trends in health and wellness among individuals nowadays, vendors are beginning to place healthier snack options in their machines. An article in the Des Moines Register the other day caught our eye. It was an interview with Janette Batts, a registered dietitian and license dietitian nutritionist with UnityPoint Health – Des Moines as she shared her tips on how to make healthier choices at a vending machine. We absolutely loved her notes and what she had to say about a lot of our favorite snacks, so we decided to put together a short list of tips to making these healthier choices.

Here are a few tips:

  1. Look out for snacks that have already been labelled as the “Healthier Choice”
  2. Make use of vending machines that provide you with nutritional information of the snacks they carry
  3. Stay away from foods with high trans-fats, MSG and added sugar
  4. Learn the names for different forms of sugar such as fructose, molasses, malt, sucrose
  5. Ingredients that you can’t pronounce can usually be avoided
  6. Use a Food App to get educated on the foods you consume – like MyFitnessPal
  7. Candy bars are great but everything needs to be done in moderation
  8. If you like snacking frequently, then plan for lighter meals and then have wholesome snacks in between

Here are also Janette’s list of Best & Worse snacks from Vending Machines and some other ideas for snacks to pack from home:

Healthier Picks at a Vending Machine

Best Snacks from the Vending Machine:

  • Original Baked SunChips
  • Special K Cracker Chips
  • BelVita Breakfast Biscuits
  • Nabisco Toasted Wheat Thins
  • Water
  • Aquafina FlavorSplash
  • Lipton Diet Green Tea
  • 100% Fruit Juices

Unhealthier Picks at a vending machine

Worst Snacks from the Vending Machine:

  • Frito-Lay Corn Chips
  • Grandma’s cookies
  • Skittles
  • Orange Crush
  • Starbucks Frappaccino
  • Whole Chocolate Milk

Snacks from Home

Healthy Snack Alternatives to bring from Home

  • Popcorn
  • String Cheese
  • Hard-cooked Egg
  • Peanut Butter on Whole-grain Crackers
  • Raw/Dark Coca powder-dusted Almonds (1 oz or 24nuts)
  • Milk
  • Nonfat Yogurt
  • Vegetables with Hummus or Greek Yogurt
  • Fruit
  • Peanut Butter on Whole-grain Tortilla