A warning to any parents who forbid sweets and treats: This story is not for you. Stop reading now. I mean it.
For the rest of us: Any parent who has spent winter break for two whole weeks cooped up with a gaggle of kids knows that it sometimes takes bribery to get the wee ones to cooperate. Sometimes a sweet incentive dangled before a cute little face might actually get junior to Stop. Hitting. His. Sister.
Need your little one to finish that worksheet or tackle that reading assignment? Promise a sweet escape to a locally owned (or operated) candy, ice cream or cookie store that offers interesting and unusual treats. I call it "Project Parent Bribe." You might be inclined to call it Operation Keep My Sanity.
Here are five bribes, err places, to visit with the kids this week during the final week of winter break. Read on.
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BRIBE ONEThe science of dessert: Subzero Ice Cream & YogurtInformation: 31653 Pacific Highway S., Federal Way, 253-941-3248, subzeroicecream.comHours: 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursdays, 8 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday, closed Sunday
The treat: Part ice cream shop, part science lesson, Subzero in Federal Way is a locally operated franchise for the national ice cream chain that uses a ridiculously awesome medium for freezing ice cream - liquid nitrogen. Subzero reminded me of Cold Stone Creamery - if the ice cream shop had been taken over by Bill Nye. Start with your choice of liquid ice cream base (ranging from yogurt to the full-fat good stuff, and soy, too, in nearly 50 flavors), then select from a list of about 25 mix-ins (candies, cookies and more), then watch as the pipe shoots out liquid nitrogen and freezes your concoction. The smoky-looking whoosh of nitrogen cold-blasts the ice cream with impressive flair viewable from most of the dining area. You pick the level of chill in your ice cream - from soft serve (I liked that texture best) to brain freeze pellets (think Dippin' Dots, but with a more satisfying texture). The kid-size serving is $3.39 and comes with one mix-in.Tip: Add-ins get expensive, so set a limit before you arrive.
BRIBE TWOFor cookie monsters: Cookies Your WayInformation: 14706 Meridian E., No. 6, Puyallup, 253-881-1104, cookies-your-way.comHours: 10 a.m-6 p.m. Tuesday- Saturday (note, closed Mondays)
The treat: Christine Johnson and her children formerly operated their cookie bakery in Freighthouse Square but moved this year to a small warehouse space in South Hill. The storefront is small and tucked into the same building as Maxi-Space Warehouse. Johnson bakes cookies daily, and serves espresso, too. Kid favorites are the M&M cookies, but the cinnamon swirl or double chocolate truffle are recommended for mom. Cookies are $1.95 each.Tip: Young tykes can occupy themselves with a game of checkers in the small seating area.
BRIBE THREE Candy two-fer: Brown & Haley outlet stores and the Johnson Candy Co.
Brown & Haley retail stores: 110 E. 26th St., Tacoma, 253-620-3067 (open 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday); 3500-C 20th St. E., Fife, 253-926-0240 (open 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 11 a.m.- 4 p.m. Sunday).Johnson Candy Co.: 924 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Tacoma, 253-272-8504 (open 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday-Friday and 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. Saturday).
The treats: Roca abounds at the factory stores for Tacoma's famous candy company, Brown & Haley, the makers of Almond Roca. My personal favorite is the Candy Cane Roca, available for a limited run during the holidays. (Stock up.) Johnson Candy Co. has operated on Tacoma's Hilltop for decades (first as a lunch counter, then as a candy shop). The house-made truffles are good for parents or grandparents, but kids will like the peanut butter smidgens and sugary candies.
BRIBE FOUR Pop up some fun: Great Northwest PopcornInformation: 1948 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, 253-779-5676, greatnorthwest popcorn.comHours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday, 11 a.m-6 p.m. Saturday and noon-6 p.m. Sunday
The treat: Popcorn by the bag ($2.50-$4) comes in all kinds of configurations and flavors at Great Northwest Popcorn: Butterscotch, cherry-vanilla, green apple, peppermint, peanut butter and all kinds of sugary popcorns are made on site. If you're lucky, you'll catch the popping and flavoring in action through a street-view window. They also make their own candies.
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