Dissecting the frozen yogurt craze

Customers and workers of popular frozen yogurt shops reveal why the trend is rapidly spreading through the city. A new tasty fad is growing in major cities nationwide, and it’s offering competition to coffee and

Customers and workers of popular frozen yogurt shops reveal why the trend is rapidly spreading through the city.

A new tasty fad is growing in major cities nationwide, and it’s offering competition to coffee and ice cream shops.

Frozen yogurt – called “froyo” or “frogurt” – originated in 1970s New England. Made from milk and yogurt, frozen yogurt is a low-fat alternative that does not include the heavy cream found in ice cream.

“It tastes like ice cream,” frozen yogurt fan Mario Lenihon-Clock said. “But it’s lighter and does not give you a stomachache afterwards.”

With so many frozen yogurt shops popping up around the city, differences among them can be difficult to identify.

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BETTY BREZNAY TTN Frozen yogurt shop Berry Sweet, located on 901 South St., offers a vast selection of flavors including birthday cake, New York cheesecake and blueberry. The store also offers nutritional information for its products.

Out of three frozen yogurt shops that opened since summer 2010 – Tutti Frutti Frozen Yogurt at 1315 Walnut St., Yogurt City at 1306 Chestnut St. and Berry Sweet at 901 South St. – all price yogurt at $0.49 an ounce. All three offer a variety of toppings, including fruits, cookie dough bits and cereals. Some stores offer machines that enable customers to mix and match their choice of flavors. All flavors are either low- or non-fat.

Tutti Frutti Frozen Yogurt offers more than 50 flavors that change on a daily basis, including pomegranate, peanut butter, mint chocolate and lactose-free orange sorbet. Dispensers with different types of cereal toppings line the walls of Tutti Frutti, which also offers cream puffs and a selection of other desserts.

The shop also offers free Wi-Fi to customers.

According to Tutti Frutti worker Dan Whelon, the real difference in the yogurt at Tutti Frutti is its healthiness.

“I started coming here because it was recommended,” said Amber Wilde, a returning Tutti Frutti customer. “[It’s] cheap, and my friend and I could both get something we liked. It was nearby and is also so tasty and nonfat.”

Yogurt City has its own reasons to keep customers coming back. Each flavor – including Irish mint, coffee, peach, white chocolate, cheesecake and cookies and cream – is gluten-free, calcium-fortified and kosher. Yogurt City also specializes in smoothies and bubble tea, offering the tapioca “bubbles” as a frozen yogurt topping as well.

Yogurt City displays nutritional information for its customers, with each half-cup of yogurt listed at 90 calories.

According to cashier Linda Liu, Yogurt City serves real frozen yogurt, not powdered yogurt like some stores.

Yogurt City customer Ted Simpson said the shop is his favorite because of its low prices, close proximity and varying selection.

“They’re always changing flavors, and it’s right near the Broad Street subway line,” he said. “It’s easy to get to, and they give you a coupon for 50 percent off your purchase.”

Simpson, who said he would pick Yogurt City over other frozen yogurt places and called the employees “very friendly,” couldn’t pick a favorite flavor because he likes mixing them all.

Like Yogurt City, Berry Sweet offers nutritional information – 90 calories for three ounces of frozen yogurt – and a variety of flavors, including some unique ones like country vanilla, birthday cake, New York cheesecake, blueberry and dairy-free mango. As for toppings, the store offers cheesecake bits, a selection of nuts, Raisinettes and Peanut M&M’s.

“I love the location of Berry Sweet,” customer Teresa Tamin said. “I’m also a big fan of their birthday cake flavor. It tastes like whipped cream.”

Despite little variation or price among the three, the frozen yogurt shops attract their own dedicated fan bases. Customers agreed frozen yogurt is growing in popularity in Philadelphia because it is a healthy but sweet delight.

Danielle Miess can be reached at danielle.miess@temple.edu.

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