Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Miles of Smiles at the Pittsburgh Marathon

“This is the reason I run this race!”

That’s a sentiment that we heard over and over again last weekend as we handed out 20,000 Smiley Cookies to exhausted runners at the Pittsburgh Marathon. Flattered doesn’t begin to describe our reaction – running 26.2 miles for one of our signature treats is quite a compliment!

Though race day dawned dreary and wet, the runners weren’t deterred by the rain, and neither were we. At 3:30 AM, our 20,000 cookies were delivered to the tent we occupied just beyond the finish line in front of Heinz Field. Soon after, our team of 17 volunteers and Team Smiley began bagging them individually in preparation for the flood of runners we’d be seeing later that morning.

 Our team takes a break after bagging 20,000 Smiley Cookies!

By 8:30 that morning, ALL of the cookies were ready to go – good timing, because that’s when the first of the runners began to cross the finish line. The first finishers had run the half-marathon – and despite the rain and physical exertion that had just endured, they were all smiles.

Race finishers stop to pick up a Smiley Cookie from one of our volunteers.

Gradually, the rain cleared up and we began to see runners who had finished the full marathon. What an accomplishment! It was almost unbelievable to see how many people had turned out for the race. In all, there were more than 4,200 finishers in the full marathon, and nearly 9,000 in the half. Together, they ran more than 220,000 miles that day. That’s enough to circle the Earth – NINE times!

We were happy to be a part of such a great event, especially with our vow to promote healthy lifestyles through our LifeSmiles program. It was truly inspiring to see so many people who had made the commitment to train and participate in the race. We can’t wait for next year!

One of the marathon finishers enjoys a Smiley Cookie.
A sweet ending to a long race!


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Monday, May 23, 2011

Spring Farm Tour 2011

Rain, rain, go away – PLEASE! Ok, maybe you can come back some other day. We do need rain for crops to grow, but this is a little ridiculous. When is it going to stop raining? On the other hand, I hate to complain about getting rain because I know that come the middle of summer, I’ll be praying for it.

I kicked off my spring farm tour a couple weeks ago, and the rain was on everybody’s mind. So I looked into our average rainfall for April - it’s typically 3.01”, but this year, we received close to 10” – and it looks like we’ll finish out May in pretty much the same fashion. For local farmers (and their customers), that’s bad news, because it’s pretty hard to plant your crops when the soil is so wet. As a result, local produce will likely be a little late this year.

Getting back to my farm tour…this year, I had a couple companions with me as I made my rounds. I was joined by my boss, Brooks Broadhurst, and Eat’n Park’s CFO, Dan Wilson. Both of these guys understand what bad weather does to our business. However, it’s hard to really understand how it impacts farmers until you see it firsthand. Luckily, aside from the rain, our farmers had mostly good news to report.

Dawson’s Orchards

Our first stop was to Dawson’s Orchards in Enon Valley, PA. You might remember my trip there last fall, in the middle of harvest season, when the trees were loaded with apples. This time, they were in the midst of pruning their apple trees, which keeps the trees healthy and aids in an abundant production of fruit in the fall. They were also planting white and yellow peach trees. Although their peaches won’t be plentiful this first year, as the trees mature, you may end up seeing fresh local peaches at an Eat’n Park near you.

Dawson’s Orchards – The apple trees are pruned to aid in abundant fruit production.

Riverview Farm and Rippling Brook Farms

After lunch, we headed north to two farms along the Clarion River. One is called Riverview Farm, owned by Sam Byler, and the other is Rippling Brook Farms, owned by Aaron Schwartz. You might remember Aaron’s name from reading about him here on our blog –he’s a great example of a success story that’s come from our FarmSource program. Both of these farmers are Amish and they produce some great products. Sam produces goat cheese from the milk that he receives from his herd of goats. While we were there, we had the opportunity to sample his Goat Cheese Feta, which I have to say was quite good.


Riverview Farm – Sam Byler’s goat herd.

After we left Sam, we stopped over at Aaron’s and had an opportunity to see his ice house. Remember, these guys don’t have the luxury of electricity and plumbing, but trust me, they get by just fine. Aaron is a vegetable farmer and in the heat and sun of the summer, vegetables have field heat. What does that mean? Well, it means that unless the vegetables are cooled soon after harvest, their quality will begin to deteriorate quickly, making them less viable for market. So, Aaron needed to find a way to cool his produce before it was shipped to market. Solution: the ice house.

Rippling Brook Farm – Aaron Schwartz’s ice house.

Last year, I visited Aaron in September, and the cooler in which he stored the ice was 35 degrees. Not bad for having no electricity. So you might ask, “Where does the ice come from?” With no electricity, he’s certainly not making ice cubes in the fridge. The answer lies in the placement of the ice house – which happens to be built in front of a pond. In the winter, when the water freezes, he cuts the ice into large cubes and stacks it in the cooler, essentially building an ice house. Pretty cool, right?

Brenckles Farm and Greenhouse

Our final stop was to Eat’n Park’s 2010 Supplier of the Year, Brenckle’s Farm and Greenhouse. Among other veggies, like corn on the cob, they supplied us with over 50% of our tomatoes last year. Our visit with Brenckle’s was a little different than the other farms, since they actually had something growing – not in their fields, but in their greenhouses. A big portion of this farm’s business comes from selling plants to the general public, so not only were their vegetables in the greenhouse, but also flowers - and a ton of them at that. I guess April showers actually did bring May flowers!

This year, we’ll again be looking to Brenckle’s for the majority of our tomatoes. Additionally, they’ll be providing us with zucchini for our breaded zucchini appetizer, as well as cucumbers, green beans, and yellow squash.

Brenckle’s greenhouse

As I’m sitting here writing this post, all I hear outside is rain hitting our metal roof of our office building. After my visits, my fingers are crossed that our farms have had an opportunity to get some crops in the ground between the rain drops. I’m looking forward to some fresh local produce!

Until next time,
Jamie

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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Smiley's Birthday: Mascot Party at the Carnegie Science Center!

Smiley’s Birthday Mascot Mania is approaching and everyone’s invited! On June 25th, Smiley will be celebrating his 25th birthday with all his mascot and human friends alike. Held at the Carnegie Science Center from 11:30 am – 1:30 pm, this will be a birthday party unlike any other and a great chance to have fun with the whole family!

Not only will Smiley be there, but so will the Pirate Parrot, Kenny the Kangaroo, Sharky from the Pittsburgh Zoo, and the Penn State Nittany Lion. Even Sarah Marince is coming to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to the guest of honor.

On top of all the fun and educational activities at the Science Center and SportsWorks, guests of all ages can also decorate their very own Smiley Cookie, get their picture with their favorite Pittsburgh characters, and enjoy birthday cake! This will certainly be a milestone to remember!

Stop in to Eat'n Park before the party to pick up a coupon for half off a child's admission with the purchase of an adult ticket.

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The Merry Berry Month of May: Vintage Eat'n Park Commercial

We were digging around in our archives, and just couldn't resist sharing this classic, since it is, in fact, the Merry Berry Month of May!

Enjoy - and don't forget to stop in for a slice of our famous Strawberry Pie!



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Monday, May 2, 2011

It’s the Merry Berry Month of May at Eat’n Park!

Our classic jingle says it all! Do you remember how it went? Here’s a refresher:

In the merry, berry month of May (the month of May),
There's a deal at Eat'n Park every day (ev-ery day).
Berry sundaes, berry shakes,
Berry pies, berry cakes.
In the merry, berry month,
The very, merry month,
The very, berry month of....MAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!!!!!


Now that we’ve got that little ditty stuck in your head, let’s get down to business. We’re featuring eleven (count ‘em!) strawberry-packed items this month, so there’s no time to waste! Read on…

Strawberry Banana French Toast
And you thought our Bananas Foster French Toast was good! Try adding strawberries and swapping out the Texas Toast for our homemade grilled strawberry bread. Oh yeah! Served with three pieces of bacon or sausage. $5.79

Strawberry-Stuffed French Toast
Two slices of French Toast stuffed with sweet cream cheese and warm strawberry filling. This one’s oozing with goodness! Served with three pieces of bacon or sausage. $5.79

Strawberry Waffle
Our homemade Belgian waffle is topped with sliced fresh strawberries and whipped cream. Everything is better with strawberries! $5.79

Grilled Chicken and Strawberry Salad
There’s a reason we bring it back every year – it’s fantastic! Julienne strips of grilled chicken, fresh strawberries, sliced almonds, and our warm poppy-seed dressing over a bed of spinach. Served with our homemade strawberry bread! $7.99

Strawberry Pie
It has a history – a long, delicious one! Read about the origins of our famous Strawberry pie here. Or just come in and enjoy a slice!
$1.99 a slice / $8.99 for a whole pie

Strawberry Crème Pie
As if strawberries weren’t enough, we went and added crème! The whole thing is topped off with whipped cream and strawberry drizzle.
$2.69 a slice / $9.99 for a whole pie

Strawberries and Cream
Freshly sliced strawberries topped with whipped cream. This is the perfect after-dinner treat when you want something light, refreshing, and low-calorie! $2.49

Strawberry Milkshake
What, you wanted an explanation for this one? The name says it all. $3.29

Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Shake
Question: How do you improve upon a classic like the Strawberry Milkshake? Answer: Add chocolate! You’ll love this great new twist. $3.69

Strawberry Sundae
Premium vanilla ice cream, fresh strawberries, whipped, cream, and a cherry. Your choice of one scoop or two. $2.49-2.99

Strawberry Lemonade
Infused with freshly-sliced strawberries, it’s the perfect way to cool down on a warm day. Includes free refills! $2.79



And, just for good measure, we have one new non-strawberry item…

Pittsburgh Turkey Sandwich
It’s BAAAAACK! You loved it, and we heard you. Oven-roasted turkey breast, Swiss cheese, chipotle slaw, and crispy French fries piled high between slices of grilled Italian bread. Served with a side of your choice. $6.99


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