Go Bananas! Celebrating DOLE and the Enchanted Tiki Room

photo: Kathy Patalsky

I toss down my jacket and reach up to twist the little knob that lends air to the cramped cabin of the airplane when the hairy man next to me asks, “you traveling for work or fun?”

“Oh, work.” I reply. But then I stop for a minute and start giggling. “Well, okay, it’s technically work, but I’m going to Disneyland. So, that doesn’t sound quite right, does it.”

He mention something about being jealous through that misshapen beard, I try to listen but decide I don’t much care because I’m going to Disneyland and it’s for work and there’s no one on the planet who currently rocks a job so deliciously fun as mine. Holy embrace the inner brat moment. I really did.

The Straight-Up Facts:

So here’s the thing. I’m gonna tell you about my recent trip to Disneyland, sponsored by DOLE Bananas. But everytime I start writing these recap posts, I start feeling like that girl on the plane who was like, all, “yeah I flew to Disneyland for work. I ate food so good it’d make your tongue stick straight out for a month. I joined up with a roomful of old blogging chums, worked with my favorite PR people, and got to stay in the Disneyland Grand Californian.” I mean, who says that kind of stuff to the unassuming stranger?

And perhaps, the better question is…who does that kind of stuff and calls it work?

So the real secret here is, my job in incredible. It just is. And telling you about some of the adventures of food blogging is part of the job. But I don’t want it to be a sassy sell or a snobbish reminder that you weren’t at Disneyland at DOLE and I was. Blech. Nonsense.

I’ve got a plan to make this a fair deal then, for you. I’m going to pass along a few of my favorite details, but then I’m going to spill a few secrets from behind-the-scenes of the food blogging life. The DOLE Summit was chock full of beloved blogging personalities, wild moments, and to-die-delicious stories and I think you’d much rather hear about those things than how freaking good these DOLE Banana Summer Tea Sandwiches were. Right?  (Note: they were freaking amazing. Go make them. That is all.)

DOLE Summit Secrets:

  • Fourth Times the Charm. This is the fourth time I’ve worked with DOLE (we’ve also celebrated with their DOLE Salad Summit, DOLE Wellness Institute, and DOLE Salatude Celebration) and everytime I take a trip with them, I’m genuinely impressed by the caliber of attention the DOLE company pays to true health and wellness. Having begun with humble roots, the company has grown to be a major corporation, but has never lot their attention to detail and care you’d hope for from a company supplying your home with food for your beautiful body. Super secret: DOLE was nice enough to arrange a mid-morning pilates class, which sounded wonderful and lovely, until we showed up and realized the teacher was like an angry, older version of one of the Disney Princesses. Now I know what happened to Ariel after Prince Eric got washed up on booze and went the way of Val Kilmer.}
  • Energy Rocks. Who knew that Bananas offer all sorts of stabilizing energy without the sugar crash you’d find with traditional energy snacks? The DOLE company has worked hard to educate consumers on many of the true benefits of bananas, or as they call them “Nature’s Original Energy Bar.” I think this is my favorite DOLE Bananas Campaign ever. Discovering that something so simple and affordable has been good for you all along is a lovely way to cut through the chatter of our increasingly consumerized world.  Super Secret: Bloggers Paula Jones of Bellalmiento and Bree Hester from Baked Bree are so full of vitalizing energy (with a side of perfect sassy honesty) that I spent a good too many minutes chirping over gossip with them, and thus forgot several other banana facts that you likely need to know. Topic of conversation: the pain of keeping contract blogging jobs in our ever-changing field. Only we talked about that with a few more swears, and such.
  • Vegan Eating. I’m a fan of any food that supports every diet option I’ve tried this year, namely Veganism and Paleo-ism. Which isn’t an ism, but it sounded so good, I had to say it. From Vegan Banana Pancakes to Paleo Banana Pancakes, bananas are remarkably versatile, lending all sorts of incredible flavor and health benefits to every meal. Super Secret: My beloved Kathy from Healthy, Happy Life kicked it with us at the Banana Summit and I swear to you, even though everyone and their miniature poodles know that girl is vegan, we always show up at restaurants with menu’s chosen that don’t include vegan eats. It makes my eyebrows squinch to see her slurping her way through a measly bowl of marinara or getting served a bowl of berries when the rest of us are eating flambe’d bananas coated in rum and butter. She’s always a love about it, though, and runs straight home to make more truly idulgent vegan creations for her blog. That’s Vegan Power for you.
  • Dole Celebrates their Partnership with Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room. The real reason we were all sitting in Disneyland for the Banana Summit, instead of the sandy beaches of the tropics (next year, right, Bob? ;) is because Dole has been the sponsor of Disneys’ Enchanted Tiki Room for a million-and-two years now. Part of our trip was visiting this infamous Disney attraction, partaking of the infamous Dole Whip (yummo, baybeee), and sitting through the infernally long and dated light show that is The Enchanted Tiki Room. Several bloggers shared memories of being a kid and loving the talking Tiki Room macaws. I just felt like I was sitting on “It’s a Small World” without a boat. See? Bratty. Super Secret: Maria and Josh of Two Peas brought their wildly scrumptious baby into the Tiki Room and watching him react with wide-eyed fascination to the walls of animatronics made the entire Tiki Room my new favorite, kinda-pretty-lame-unless-you-have-a-baby attraction.
  • Yo, Bob the Banana. DOLE was kind enough to send us home with two of their popular consumer products, which truly make DOLE bananas shine. The first, a Yonanas Banana Ice Cream Maker, a brilliant little machine that turns frozen bananas into a creamy, one-ingredientsoft-serve. (Scroll on down to the bitter end of this post to nab details on how you can win your own Yonanas Machine!) The other lil’ thang that came home with us was a ginormous version of the DOLE Kids character, Bobby the Banana. Next time you need to buy a half-hour with your tots, have them visit the DOLE page and play some of the fun, colorful kids games available on the DOLE website. Super Secret: My favorite Bob of the DOLE Summit wasn’t a banana stuffie, but the PR guy in charge of the whole gig. He’s been a friend and ally for me over the last two years, both from a business perspective and a personal one, as he’s offered incredible insights and ideas on how to work and live authentically. Good people are waaay better than good bananas, aren’t they? Such a gift.
So there you have it, a few of the nitty gritty deets from back-stage blogging. I hate to tell you, but the job, the people, and the opportunities to work with incredible companies like DOLE are just as enjoyable as you might imagine. Disneyland for work? Who even does that. ;)
Want more behind-the-scenes secrets from DOLE Bananas? Follow them on Facebook and Twitter for great tips, tricks, and periodic giveaways.

Get Yer Giveaway On!

One Cheeky reader will win a Yonanas machine, valued at $49.95.

To be entered to win, we’re keeping it easy pleasy this time. Just leave a comment below and tell me how you do your bananas. Leave a link with your fave recipe, if’n you so desire. Then, go bananas and have a great day!
Schmall print: Giveaway ends November 23, 2012 and will be announced on the Cheeky Kitchen Facebook Page by November 31, 2012. One entry per person. This giveaway and post were sponsored by DOLE. My trip and travel expenses were reimbursed by the DOLE company. All opinions in this post are mine.