By Erika Webb
Holiday decorations are tucked away for another year, but predictably those perennial red hearts are popping up everywhere, reminding us that gift giving never really ends.
The good news: It doesn't have to be a chore.
Through the crunch of decadent chocolate shell awaits a plump, fresh, juicy strawberry -- a divine match of texture and flavor, creating an experience which begs to be repeated. And it can be with a box of Chocolate Indulgence Strawberries, Swizzle Berries, Berry Chocolate Roses or a Sweet Indulgence Platter from Edible Arrangements, now open in Orange City.
If your resolution to be more organized and not forget important gift-giving occasions is still intact, congratulations. You may proceed to Edible Arrangements, where dozens of unique combinations await your selection, promising to bring ecstasy to the recipient.
If you've already fallen off of that wagon, it's Edible Arrangements to the rescue.
On the run and want to deliver the gift yourself? No problem. Daily-created, fresh-fruit arrangements are always available to pick up.
While there, you can enjoy delectable rewards for your efforts from the Edible to Go menu, featuring fresh-fruit based snacks, including Fru Pockets, Fru Sundaes, Fresh Fruit Parfaits, Banana Cream Pie, juices, fruit salads and more.
Edible Arrangements came into existence in the year 2000, rapidly expanding to more than 1,000 international locations. Named by Inc. and Entrepreneur magazines as one of the fastest growing franchises in 2006 and 2007, Edible Arrangements was also named one of the top franchise systems in Entrepreneur's Annual Franchise 500 list in 2007 and 2008.
That's one of the many factors Jehad "Jack" Hannoush took into consideration when he decided to change careers. The former computer technician owns three Central Florida Edible Arrangements locations -- Lake Mary, Orlando and, as of last June, Orange City.
"We were already servicing this area from Lake Mary," Mr. Hannoush said. "This was a good add-on to complement the Lake Mary area.
He wanted customers -- called guests -- to have the convenience of a store in their own neighborhood.
Mr. Hannoush said he likes to be involved in every aspect of this business, from fruit-bouquet creation to delivery.
"One of the things that keeps me happy in this business is the wow factor," he said. "When you see the person open the door and they're so excited ... there's such a feel of happiness you see on the guest's face, whether they pick (an arrangement) up from here or whether we deliver it to them."
With more people eating for good health, Mr. Hannoush said the combination of flower presentation and fresh, absolutely never frozen, preservative-free fruit, is a genuine think-outside-the-box gift for any occasion.
"The same amount of money is spent on a nice basket of flowers, but not only are you going to enjoy looking at it, you're going to enjoy munching on it," Mr. Hannoush said.
It was as a guest, in more ways than one, he discovered Edible Arrangements' charms.
"I had experienced this franchise as a customer when I got a gift for a party," Mr. Hannoush said. "I was passing by a location in New Jersey and took a basket to the party. It was the center of conversation for most of the evening."
For a dramatic, but diet-adherent arrangement, try The Berry Impressive Meeting with pineapple daisies, strawberries, grapes, melon and orange slices.
Small, but impressive, are the Fruit Favors: individual pieces of fruit dipped in gourmet chocolate and packaged in a "cute" box.
The Fruit Festival is a healthy-indulgent compromise with cinnamon chocolate apple wedges, pineapple daisies, orange slices, strawberries, melon and grapes.
Featured critter containers include Hello Kitty, Mickey Mouse, teddy bears, rocking horses and more.
And, Mr. Hannoush said, the corporate creators at Edible Arrangements consistently add new items to keep the selection as fresh as the merchandise.
Mr. Hannoush came to the U.S. from Syria 19 years ago. His perpetual smile and good nature reveal his contentedness. He likes it here, and he's grateful for his slice of the American Dream.
"There are a lot of opportunities, a lot of freedom -- freedom of thinking and believing," Mr. Hannoush said.
Edible Arrangements is at 2621 Enterprise Road in Orange City. Call (386) 774-5555 or visit online EdibleArrangements.com.