10 Facts About the Cheesecake Factory

The Cheesecake Factory has never been known as a restaurant to skimp on the size of its menu or the size of its portions. Enjoy this full menu of facts about the Calabasas Hills-based restaurant chain while contemplating which variety of cheesecake will be your next slice.

1. The recipe for the original cheesecake was printed in the newspaper.

Housewife Evelyn Overton of Detroit was searching for a recipe for the dessert when she found one in her local paper. Her cheesecake earned such rave reviews with family and friends that she began making them in her basement and selling them to local restaurants.

2. The Overton family headed west to grow their cheesecake business.

After her two children were grown, Evelyn and her husband moved to Los Angeles and put all their savings into a bakery called The Cheesecake Factory Bakery. Evelyn’s desserts were soon being sold throughout the city and the selection grew to more than 20 varieties.

3. Evelyn's son, David, still serves as the company's CEO.

Before becoming a cheesecake mogul, David Overton played drums professionally and used his musical talents to help pay for his tuition at Detroit's Wayne State University. When he saw that his parents needed help selling their cheesecake, he retired his drumsticks and opened the first full-menu location of the Cheesecake Factory in Beverly Hills in 1978.

4. Customers came for the cheesecake but stayed for entrees.

According to David, the desserts were always meant to be the focal point of the restaurant’s menu (hence the name), and he describes his mom’s dessert as “the Cadillac of cheesecakes.” When the full restaurant opened, customers waited in line, even on the first day, for a slice. "I wanted to prove to other restaurateurs that people would enjoy a restaurant with a large dessert menu," David told the Los Angeles Times.

5. The Overtons own two other restaurant concepts.

Grand Lux Cafe is David Overton's take on the classic European cafe, and RockSugar Pan Asian Kitchen is the result of a partnership between Overton and Singapore-raised chef Mohan Ismail. In total, there are more than a dozen Grand Lux Cafes nationwide and two RockSugar restaurants—one in Los Angeles and another in Oak Brook, Illinois.

6. All of the cheesecakes sold across the country are made in two bakeries.

There are more than 190 Cheesecake Factory locations across the country, but facilities in Calabasas Hills, California and Rocky Mount, North Carolina, are responsible for baking the 50 types of signature cheesecakes the restaurant serves, which include salted caramel, peanut butter cup fudge ripple, lemon raspberry cream, and the one that started it all: The Original.

7. If you can't make it to a restaurant, you can always have a cheesecake shipped directly to you.

In partnership with direct mail gourmet gift gurus Harry & David, nearly two dozen flavors of Cheesecake Factory delectables are available to deliver directly to your door. Some varieties start at $49.99, which isn't too bad if you want to really impress some company with your sudden baking prowess. For those who need cheesecake more regularly in their life, there is also the Cheesecake of the Month club.

8. Overton doesn't care how big the restaurant's menu is, as long as it includes all the things customers like.

"We have always said that whatever America wants to eat can go on the Cheesecake Factory menu," Overton has said. The current tally of the number of food items available at any Cheesecake Factory sits at around 250, and all menu options have gone directly through Overton. "My taste buds represent that of the regular people we have dining at our restaurants," he said in 2012. "If I love the food, it goes in the menu."

9. Its employees are not just fans of the desserts, but the company itself as well.

A corporate health plan that is available to all employees and their immediate families, as well as no-cost diploma and degree programs led the Cheesecake Factory to be included on Fortune’s list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For for several years in a row (it currently holds the #25 spot, up from 27 last year).

10. A weekly $5000 tab at The Cheesecake Factory is one of the things that led to bankruptcy for a former NFL player.

When Vince Young’s lawyer revealed that the former quarterback for the Tennessee Titans was close to broke (after earning $26 million in six years) in 2012, a Nashville radio show found that a large portion of his income had gone to covering outrageous tabs at chain restaurants. Young is said to have treated seven or eight of his teammates to dinner at the Factory multiple times a week—but still, $5000 is a lot of slices of cheesecake.

This story has been updated for 2019.

10 Delicious Hot Chocolate Mix-Ins

Lilechka75/iStock via Getty Images Plus
Lilechka75/iStock via Getty Images Plus

It's hot chocolate season—and while there's nothing wrong with plopping in a few marshmallows into your hot cocoa, there are many other ways to spice it up. Whether you're bored or just looking to try something new, these 10 ingredients will take your hot chocolate to the next level.

1. Peanut Butter

A jar of peanut butter in a white bowl with peanuts on a blue table.
Kevin Brine/iStock via Getty Images Plus

If you're a fan of the peanut butter and chocolate combination, this recipe from One Ordinary Day is for you. Just add a few dollops of regular, creamy peanut butter right into your saucepan along with the chocolate and enjoy.

2. Nutella

For a hazelnut flavor, mix some nutella into the saucepan. This one goes best with a whipped cream garnish.

3. Maple Syrup

Maple syrup in a glass bottle on a wooden table.
showcake/iStock via Getty Images Plus

For a New England twist on cocoa, add a couple teaspoons of maple syrup. If you need an extra kick, a couple pinches of nutmeg will do.

4. Cinnamon

A mere teaspoon of cinnamon in a saucepan of hot chocolate is all it takes to create a delicious mix of cinnamon hot chocolate.

5. Oreos

sandwich cookies on a blue background
stacey_newman/iStock via Getty Images Plus

You’ll need a food processor or blender to chop up around four oreos until they're the texture of sugar. Add it to the hot chocolate mix, then top with whipped cream and more crushed Oreos.

6. Peppermint

For a batch of peppermint hot chocolate, all it takes is three drops of peppermint oil and a pinch of salt.

7. Ginger

fresh ginger on a black background
martinrlee/iStock via Getty Images Plus

To make hot cocoa taste like gingerbread, add one piece of ginger, 10 cloves, and two cinnamon sticks while cooking.

8. Chili Powder

If you really want to spice up the beverage, whip up a batch of Mexican hot chocolate. This includes a little bit of ground cinnamon and a pinch of chili powder.

9. Cherry

Cherries in a jar.
Freila/iStock via Getty Images Plus

For a full batch of hot chocolate to taste like cherry, it takes a few tablespoons of maraschino cherry juice.

10. Booze

There are many types of alcohol that go well in hot chocolate. Some options include brandy, Kahlua, peppermint schnapps, raspberry liqueur, tequila, amaretto, Bailey’s Irish Creme, and even red wine.

101 Years Later: Remembering Boston's Great Molasses Flood of 1919

Boston Public Library, Flickr, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
Boston Public Library, Flickr, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

On January 15, 1919, Boston suffered one of history’s strangest disasters: a devastating flood of molasses. The “Great Molasses Flood” tore through the city's North End and deposited so much gooey residue that locals claimed they could still smell the molasses on warm days decades later.

While most of us probably think of molasses as a tasty ingredient in treats like gingerbread, the sticky stuff has quite a few other uses. With a little know-how, one can turn molasses into rum or industrial alcohol fairly easily, and the Purity Distilling Company had built the gigantic tank in Boston’s North End in 1915 to supply its booze-making operations.

The steel tank was enormous: 50 feet tall, 90 feet across, and capable of holding 2.5 million gallons of molasses. (Although Prohibition kicked in with Nebraska’s ratification of the Eighteenth Amendment the very next day after the 1919 disaster, the United States Industrial Alcohol Company, Purity Distilling’s parent company, still had a license to distill alcohol for industrial applications.)


By Unknown - Anthony Mitchell Sammarco. Boston's North End. Arcadia Publishing, 2004, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

The massive tank was nearly full on January 15, thanks to a recent infusion of 2.3 million gallons of molasses from Puerto Rico. Just after noon, something went horribly wrong. Witnesses later recalled hearing a noise like gunfire as the tank’s rivets popped and the steel sides ripped open. Suddenly, 26 million pounds of molasses were tearing down Commercial Street in a 15-foot wave.

A shockingly destructive force

A giant wave of a sticky foodstuff sounds like something from a cartoon, but the surging molasses was a shockingly destructive force. The wave moved at upwards of 35 mph, and the power was sufficient to rip buildings off of their foundations. The molasses snapped the support girders from an elevated train track and smashed multiple houses. The Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities’s website claimed the property damage alone totaled around $100 million in today’s dollars.

The human cost of the disaster was even more grim. The wave of molasses moved so quickly and so forcefully that anyone who was unlucky enough to be in its way didn’t stand much of a chance. They were either knocked over and crushed or drowned in the goo. The flood claimed 21 lives, and another 150 people suffered injuries. Any flood would have been disastrous, but the viscous nature of molasses made rescue attempts even trickier. Medics and police officers arrived on the scene quickly but had to slog through waist-deep goo to reach victims.


Boston Post, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Even after the victims had been pulled from the muck, cleanup crews quickly learned that getting rid of 2 million gallons of molasses is no small task. In his book Dark Tide, Stephen Puleo wrote about one of the chief obstacles to the cleanup: firefighters couldn’t just use their hoses to blast the molasses off of buildings and streets with fresh water. Eventually they realized that saltwater would cut the hardened molasses and enable them to hose it down the streets into gutters. Thanks to all the foot traffic of rescue workers, cleanup crews, and rubberneckers, the sticky mess quickly moved around the city via people's shoes. In all, the cleanup effort required over 80,000 man-hours.

The Blame Game

How did this tragedy happen in the first place? The United States Industrial Alcohol Company was quick to blame everyone’s favorite early 20th-century scapegoats: anarchists. The company claimed that since its alcohol was an ingredient in government munitions, anarchists must have sabotaged the tank by detonating a bomb. Another theory explained that the molasses had fermented inside the tank, which led to an explosion.

Investigators soon found the real culprit, though: shoddy construction work. The company had been in such a hurry to get the tank built back in 1915 that it didn’t cut corners so much as it ignored the corners completely. Modern studies have found that the tank walls were both too thin and made of a steel that was too brittle to withstand the volume of molasses.

The man who oversaw the construction wasn’t an engineer or an architect; in fact, he couldn’t even read a blueprint. The tank needed to be an engineering marvel to hold all that weight, but the company never even consulted an engineer on the project. Basically, it threw up a gigantic tank as quickly and as cheaply as possible, skimped on inspections and safety tests, and hoped for the best.


Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

In light of these details, it’s amazing that the tank held together for four years. Nearby residents reported that the tank had leaked since its construction. Rather than fix the problem, the United States Industrial Alcohol Company had painted the tank brown so the leaks would be less noticeable.

The largely working-class North End residents who had lost their homes and loved ones in the disaster predictably turned their rage toward the United States Industrial Alcohol Company. USIA soon found itself named as the defendant in 125 lawsuits, which led to a legal battle that nearly matched the flood’s scale.

The Massachusetts Superior Court named Colonel Hugh Ogden as the auditor who would hear the evidence and report back on the cause of the disaster. It took Ogden nearly six years to hear testimony from 3000 witnesses. When he finally penned his report, he concluded that there was no evidence to support the company’s theory of anarchist saboteurs. Instead, Ogden found that the “factor of safety” in the tank’s construction and inspection had been woefully low. USIA was liable for the damage and paid around $7000 to the family of each victim.

The Great Molasses Flood still seems like a tragedy that could have been averted, but the disaster really drew attention to the potential repercussions of shaky construction. The case helped prompt Massachusetts and many other states to pass laws requiring that engineers and architects inspect and approve plans for major construction projects.

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