A Google search for frozen yogurt, also commonly referred to as “fro-yo”, reveals more than a dozen shops in the Charlotte area.
The business model of frozen yogurt evolved over the last two decades and shifted the market of frozen desserts. In the 90s, TCBY dominated the market, and ordering frozen yogurt was a lot like getting a scoop of ice cream. Will that be in a cone or a bowl?
But then the economy tanked.
The bad economy meant good news for the younger breed of emerging frozen yogurt shops. Consumers were pinching pennies and seeking more control over their purchases, and the self-serve frozen yogurt shop was an answer to their prayers.
It’s a simple idea – fill a cup with yogurt, sprinkle some toppings on it, weigh it on the scale and pay. Paying by the ounce gave spenders more freedom to purchase as much or as little as they liked or could afford. The wide variety of yogurts, dairy-free sorbets and toppings created a new world of customization.
For demanding customers who want things exactly their way, this is perfection.
TCBY wasn’t the only shop on the block anymore. Pinkberry—which markets itself as handcrafted frozen yogurt—popped up in Los Angeles, then quickly expanded. Then other chains began appearing in shopping centers alongside independently-owned shops.
This trend is fueled by more than just people with a sweet tooth, though. With healthy and wholesome foods also trending (which is good, I might add), somewhere, someone made the assertion that frozen yogurt is a healthier alternative to ice cream.
This is not entirely true.
Most frozen yogurts are lower in fat, but that doesn’t add other immediate health benefits. Smaller amounts of fat are positive for those seeking to limit fat in their diet; however, this reduction sometimes means an increase in sugar content.
It’s also important to be aware of flavor additives and other strange ingredients in yogurt. Ben & Jerry’s, who also makes frozen yogurt, recently announced they’d rid all their products of GMOs. Artificial sweeteners are commonly found in low-sugar or sugar-free options.
And toppings deserve careful consideration, too. Fruits are a good choice, but other, healthier-looking toppings, like granola, are packed with sugar and often lack fiber or other good nutrients.
It’s summer. Relax, have fun and enjoy a dessert. Find a local shop, learn about their products – and be sure not to let your fro-yo melt.