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To Serve or Not to Serve: The Rise of Frozen Yogurt:

Nowadays there are so many delicious frozen yogurt places it is difficult to choose the right one: a local favorite, the familiar chain, or a self-serve place where all toppings and choices are available. 

Self-serve frozen yogurt has become very popular lately, especially the chain Yogurtland.  However, all of the choices available (a variety of yogurt flavors, fruit, toppings, sauces, and more) can be challenging to people because of the abundance of options: “Some people are paralyzed by choice.  They’re overwhelmed by the toppings and end up making really bad choices,” said frozen yogurt frequenter Mircea Raianu, “Self-serve yogurt is the ultimate realization of the American consumer dream: unlimited quantities and choices at your fingertips.” Also at self-serve yogurt stores there is only one size cup, so custumers do not have to choose between small, medium, and large.

Raianu prefers traditional frozen yogurt stores because “at non- self serve frozen yogurt places, the server is the expert and they guide you to make the right decision.  But if you are alone with the toppings you can create an amalgam of flavors.”  When he goes to self-serve frozen yogurt shops Raianu is careful to coordinate the toppings with the frozen yogurt, for example “a Sunday theme demonstrates thoughtfulness, where as other people don’t put any thought into it,” he said.

On the other hand, “self serve has options, you can make up themes, or put a little of everything.  There is also a satisfaction of creating a dessert yourself,” said Gina Scurich, frozen yogurt fanatic/frequenter.   “I typically section my cup into three different sections; I always have to get Plain Tart, Vanilla Wafer, and New York Cheese Cake.   Then I will put strawberries, bananas, cheesecake bites, granola, and then I make a separate section for Oreo cookies, and then pour chocolate on the whole thing.  You can get everything you want.” 

“Frozen yogurt is a speculative mania, oftentimes an empty store front becomes a yogurt place, catering to upper middle class students who love yogurt.  This business promises a safe return in this economy.  However it is hard to differentiate ones’ self from other yogurt businesses that are in place.  Chains take away from local businesses because customers know what they are getting when they go into one of these chains,” said Raianu.

Red Mango separates itself from its competitors by producing what they claim to be the healthiest yogurt: “We are the only yogurt chain to have authentic frozen yogurt.  Other places use fructose, water, and a powder mix.  Our yogurt is more expensive because we make it naturally” said Alex Arriola, the shift supervisor at Red Mango in Westwood Village.  Red mango is also serving teas, and has a pomegranate tart flavor made by POM juices.  Arriola explained that he has been trained to help customers match toppings with frozen yogurt flavors, in case they feel overwhelmed by all of the options and toppings available.

Los Angeles has many different frozen yogurt shops to choose from, and once you have found the right one there are even more decisions to be made as to the right toppings and themes to go with your yogurt.   Regardless of the many difference between yogurt places, all are healthy alternatives to ice cream and are delicious in the summer.

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