I have a prejudice against frozen yogurt.
First of all, I like ice cream. I mean really, really like it. And frozen custard. And I don't like the way that many fro-yo chains in the past tried to portray themselves as the healthy ice cream alternative, as if ice cream is evil in some way.
I don't think about food like that. There definitely are foods we should eat more of and foods we should eat less of, but no food is rendered evil by virtue of calorie count or the amount of trans fat it contains.
But my most basic problem with frozen yogurt has always been the insistence of many frozen yogurt fans that it TASTES just like ice cream. That's just not true, and it has always bugged me.
So when frozen yogurt began to crop up once again a few years ago, I had to respect the fact that the purveyors of the product, this time around, are trumpeting the stuff as simply what it is — something with its own taste, texture and appeal.
However, the emphasis by many of those shops on probiotics and green-tea extracts and antioxidants does cast a chill on my indulgence-loving heart. I just can't help it. When I'm having a treat, I don't want to feel like I'm taking medicine.
But I've been forced to re-evaluate my prejudices a little after two recent visits to fro-yo shops in Houston and here in Utah. While waiting to pick up a relative from an appointment, I took my kids to an antioxidant- and probiotic-loving shop called Berripop, where we enjoyed some fat-free fruity yogurt that was sweet and refreshing in the manner of a sorbet or gelato.
And this past week, my sister and I took a passel of kids over to Frogurt, a family and possibly even husband-friendly establishment that is among the more customer-participatory establishments I have ever visited.
As customers enter this bright, cheery shop, they're greeted by stacks of big green paper cups and a list of instructions: "1. Get a cup. 2. Fill it with yogurt and toppings. 3. Weigh and pay. 4. Enjoy it!"
Well, we did just that. A wall of machines dispensed frozen yogurt in flavors ranging from plain to peanut butter and was followed by a toppings bar that was both extensive and pristinely maintained: fresh fruit, nuts, sprinkles, Nerds, chocolate raisins, cookies, candy bars and a whole array of syrups and sauces.
But let's focus on what really matters — the yogurt, which is almost as creamy and velvety-smooth as custard and a blast to eat in nearly any flavor, despite having yogurt's characteristic sweet-tangy zing. Since Frogurt seems to run on lists, I'll make one of my own, ranking the eight flavors we tried from worst to best, starting with:
8. Pineapple. Not bad, exactly, just bland and sweet and forgettable.
7. Red velvet cake. I found this flavor's intense, frosting-like sweetness and hint of chocolate enjoyable, but several members of our party just thought it was strange.
6. Raspberry truffle. This variety was strongly chocolatey with just a hint of raspberry.
5. Peanut butter. Expected to hate it. Surprised myself by finding it rich and satisfying.
4. Starlite mint. Despite it's light-green hue, this variety tasted just like those red-and-white stripy mints you eat after dinner and was cool and refreshing.
3. Chocolate. Not too sweet, intense and fruity, which played well with the yogurt's tang.
2. Blueberry tart. I eat a blueberry yogurt for breakfast many mornings, so I guess it's not surprising I liked this variety's earthy flavor, especially when I topped it with real blueberries. Mmm.
1. Original plain tart. It's just delicious. Simple, tangy, sweet, creamy — in short, this flavor is everything a frozen dessert should be, just by being itself.
Yogurt and toppings 35 cents per ounce.
Where: 1142 E. Fort Union Blvd., Midvale (other locations in Draper and Ogden)
Hours: Mondays-Thursdays, 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m.; Fridays-Saturdays, 11 a.m.-11:30 p.m.; closed Sundays
Wheelchair access: Once curb is negotiated, easy
Also: Lids available for takeout option
Stacey Kratz is a freelance writer who reviews restaurants for the Deseret News. e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org