Tuesday, January 20, 2015

First Yogen Fruz U Serve Visit

Fro-yo girl here. I’ve been to a couple of Yogen Fruz locations since they first opened in the Bay Area in 2008. I remember being at the grand opening of the San Francisco Embarcadero location, a location which just closed this year. They were different from other froyo shops because they had the Mix It custom blended frozen yogurt creations. This blended creation was developed by Yogen Fruz and featured its probiotic proprietary frozen yogurt.

Mix It allowed the customer to choose the base frozen yogurt (lowfat vanilla, lowfat chocolate, nonfat vanilla or nonfat tart frozen yogurt base) and fruit. The fruit and bar of frozen yogurt would then be blended together in the Yogen Fruz machine. The end result was thick and creamy with fruit chunks and seeds (for fruit with seeds). The mixing process wasn’t thorough, normally you’d see some unmixed froyo in your cup. The Mix It style was popular in Canada, where Yogen Fruz got its start in 1986.

Yogen Fruz also offered Top It, which wasn’t a custom blended frozen yogurt product but was similar to the other soft serve style frozen yogurt products found at most froyo shops.

It wasn’t clear whether the mix in style frozen yogurt would catch on in the US. In an interesting turn of events, Yogen Fruz entered a licensing agreement with Jamba Juice which provided Jamba Juice with the right to use the Yogen Fruz operating system and registered trademarks in 2011. Jamba Juice’s Whirl’ns frozen yogurt was a mix in style frozen yogurt. It was offered for a few years but phased out in 2013. Mix In style frozen yogurt has caught on elsewhere though – “Today, Yogen Früz has grown to more than 1400 locations operating in over 46 countries around the world.“

In 2010, Yogen Fruz opened its first self-serve location; their self-serve offering is called U Serve. I don’t recall hearing about any U Serve locations in the Bay Area but it is available in Los Angeles. The first Yogen Fruz location in LA (Tarzana, opened in 2008) added U Serve about a year ago. They also kept the Mix It froyo option.

U Serve is similar to your usual self-serve froyo. Grab a cup, choose from 10 self-serve froyo flavors, and add toppings. It’s 49 cents an ounce. The toppings were typical: fruit, mochi, syrups, popping boba, candy, cookies, chips, nuts, rainbow sprinkles, graham cracker crumbs. The froyo flavors were similar to ones you’d find at most froyo shops.

Froyo flavors of the day:

  • Greek style: more flavorful than the tart, smooth, has an interesting taste, maybe honey, light texture 
  • Passionfruit
  • Espresso
  • Pistachio
  • Red velvet
  • Strawberry fields
  • Mangolicious sorbet
  • Tart: light, smooth, not that tart (on the sweet side)
  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate

U serve froyo tastes a lot different than the Mix It style yogurt. It’s much lighter. Granted, it is of course a different style of froyo but I was still expecting some similiarities. I’m not sure how U Serve's frozen yogurt differs from Yogurty’s which is a Canadian self-serve froyo chain owned by International Franchise Corp. (the same company owns Yogen Fruz).

You know you love me. X0 X0, fro-yo girl.

Looking for more frozen yogurt news, discussion boards, and resources? Check out the International Frozen Yogurt Association website at http://internationalfrozenyogurt.com/. The IFYA is the independent voice of the frozen yogurt industry.

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