What makes Hawaiian Rumble, in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, worthy of hosting the Masters of mini golf? A 40-foot volcano that shoots 15-foot flames. "It rumbles so loud, it shakes the ground," says owner Robert Detwiler, who also started the U.S. ProMiniGolf Association.
Vegetable gardeners can thank 19th-century entrepreneur W. Atlee Burpee for their fresh corn on the cob and juicy homegrown tomatoes. Young Atlee's father wanted him to be a doctor. But Burpee was drawn to the fledgling science of genetics. In 1876, at 18, he founded a mail-order-catalog and seed business, the W. Atlee Burpee Company, in Warminster, Pennsylvania.
Woodworker Herbert W. Sellner's Tilt-A-Whirl was the hit of the Minnesota State Fair in 1927, one year after its debut. Since then, the carnival ride has thrilled and nauseated countless riders around the world, and it is still a bestseller for fourth-generation family-owned Sellner Manufacturing Company, in Faribault, Minnesota.
How do you make perfect lobster rolls? Practice, practice, practice. Try serving 10,000 of them, as Shaw's Fish & Lobster Wharf, in New Harbor, Maine, does every summer.
Kerry Bexley works as a facilities operator at a coal plant and "Miss Tootsie" Tomanetz is a custodian at a local school district, but on Saturdays they run Snow's BBQ, in Lexington, Texas, which is ranked No. 1 in the state by Texas Monthly. Fans start lining up at 8 a.m., and Snow's usually sells out by noon.
The Black Hills Central Railroad travels through the mountains of western South Dakota. The Warder family bought the railroad in 1990 and refurbished a Baldwin Mallet locomotive. Trains run from Hill City to Keystone on a route that once served the region's mining boom.
Inventor Gordon Holcombe once worked in the commercial aircraft evacuation business. When the first DC-10 jumbo jet came out in 1971, he realized the curved slides used for emergency exits could be adapted to make river rafts. He founded raftmaker Maravia, which subsequent owner Doug Tims moved from California to Boise, Idaho, in 1985.
The year was 1952, and George Stephen Sr. had an idea: Why not use one of the metal buoys he was welding for the Coast Guard as a barbecue grill? He slapped on some legs and a handle, and the Weber grill was born. Today, Weber-Stephen Products, in Palatine, Illinois, is the largest grill manufacturer in the U.S.
Tom Morey was a math major at the University of Southern California when he started to rethink the surfboard. Morey's Boogie Board (named for his love of music), trademarked in 1973, was eventually bought by Wham-O. His latest venture, TomMorey.com, in San Clemente, California, is at work on a new kind of paddleboard.
In 1956, James and William Conway drove the first Mister Softee truck through the streets of South Philly, where they grew up. Today, their sons, James and John, run the franchiser, based in Runnemede, New Jersey. Some 750 trucks, each playing the instantly recognizable Mister Softee jingle, cover 18 states.