Wednesday, June 30, 2010

End of National Frozen Yogurt Month

Fro-yo girl here. It's the last day of June, which means it's the last day of National Frozen Yogurt Month. I hope you ate plenty of fro-yo this month.

In honor of fro-yo, I'd like to look at how frozen yogurt has performed according to Google Trends. Search volumes have been climbing steadily since 2007, though there are strong seasonal patterns. The searches peak during the summer, the favorite time for fro-yo consumption.

The majority of searches come from the U.S., followed by Canada. Australia, Brazil, and Great Britain round out the top 5. The Koreans have probably moved on to the next trend (roti buns?). Within the U.S., most of the searches occur in California (which everyone knows has the most fro-yo shops), followed by Nevada, Arizona, Utah and Hawaii.

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

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Future Yogurt Shop Picture: Yoppi SF Westfield Centre

Fro-yo girl here. Today was one of those rare days when I actually made it downtown and to Chinatown. Tuttimelon Bear and I wanted to take our visiting friends from London to Tuttimelon. We also walked around SF Westfield Centre to look for signs of fro-yo. I took a picture of the future Yoppi Yogurt store. It's in the old Cefiore space. We didn't see any visible signs of the future Pinkberry in the food court area or Tuttimelon (by the theater). I couldn't look inside Yoppi but it says Coming Soon July 2010 on the outside.

My keen fro-yo eye spotted a Yogen Fruz kiosk inside the Metreon. They have two Mix It machines there. You can't get the Top It style at that location.

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

* YOPPI YOGURT: 845 Market St. #277, San Francisco, CA

Friday, June 25, 2010

Three Fro-yo Shops in One Mall, the New Trend

Fro-yo girl here. A couple of months ago, I wrote about how there were three fro-yo shops at the Great Mall (in Milpitas, CA). I found three in New Park Mall too (in Newark, CA). The Great Mall is huge and really crowded, so I can maybe see having two fro-yo shops there. But New Park Mall is a small mall in serious decline. I don't understand what the owner of the second shop is thinking and the owner of the third shop is wildly optimistic. I can't think of too many malls that are busy enough year-round to support that many fro-yo shops.

You could argue that only Orange Tree in New Park Mall is the only pure fro-yo shop. Good Luck Yogurt Shop sometimes has fro-yo and sometimes does not (you'd think with a name like Good Luck Yogurt Shop, they would always have yogurt). The third shop has sandwiches, smoothies, ice cream and fro-yo.

Will San Francisco Westfield Centre and Westfield Valley Fair be able to support three fro-yo shops? Time will tell.

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

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Future Yogurt Shop Picture: Yogofina

Fro-yo girl here. Here's a picture that I took of the future Yogofina location on Lakeshore Avenue in Oakland, CA. I didn't see a building number, but it's right next to Arizmendi Bakery and very close to Yogurt Deluxe. I couldn't see anything (it's papered over) and the door wasn't open.

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

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Father's Day Fro-yo Specials

Fro-yo girl here. If your father or someone you think of as a father likes fro-yo, I've compiled a list of Father's Day Bay Area fro-yo specials.

* Nubi Yogurt: Purchase $10 or more at any location and get a free Nubi Father's Day t-shirt (Ono is giving out shirts too, with a minimum $20 purchase)
* Blush Organic Frozen Yogurt: Purchase $25 or more in gift cards, get a free small fro-yo with 2 toppings OR buy fro-yo for yourself, get a free small fro-yo for your dad (mention Facebook)
* TCBY: Free cup or cone of fro-yo for dads
* Harmony Organic Frozen Yogurt, Burlingame location only: 50% off fro-yo till the end of the's not a Father's Day special but part of their 1 year anniversary special

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

Friday, June 18, 2010

Northern California Soft Serve Show

Fro-yo girl here. I checked out today's Northern California Soft Serve Show, sponsored by Southwest Traders, at the Electro-Freeze Showroom in Pleasanton today. Attendance was free and most of the attendees were fro-yo shop owners. The show was a chance to meet the vendors and check out the latest in fro-yo. And there was free fro-yo.

TR Toppers table of toppings took up the center of the room. You could sample toppings like iced animal cookies, mini peanut butter cups, Andes mints, etc. They now offer mini fruit pies. New toppings included gold nuggets (pieces of chocolate), mini sour gummi worms and chocolate coated waffle pieces. I liked the strawberry fizzy candy - nice crunch and not too sweet.

There were 12 flavors of fro-yo available for sampling from Rainbow's End, Summit, and Miss Karen's. Summit had two new fro-yo flavors, maraschino cherry tart and mandarin orange tart. Southwest Traders no longer carries YoCream (a shocking turn of events, I'm not sure what happened). Miss Karen's has been around since the 1970s and I was curious to try their fro-yo. They had red velvet, butter pecan, chocolate decadence, pineapple express tart and genuine tart. The red velvet flavor was very, very sweet, like a regular chocolate fro-yo but sweeter. The pineapple express tart was very creamy and didn't have that refreshing quality that I like in tart fro-yo. The aftertaste was somewhat bitter.

Other vendors had samples of syrups, smoothies, and paper cups.

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

* ELECTRO-FREEZE: 1032 Serpentine Lane #102, Pleasanton, CA

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Trader Joe's Yogurt Stars Review

Fro-yo girl here. Someone high up at Trader Joe's loves yogurt. They've introduced another yogurt product, Yogurt Stars. Crunchy star shaped vanilla cookies are dipped in three different yogurt coatings. The white stars are vanilla, the purple ones blueberry yogurt and the pink ones are raspberry. The vanilla ones are the best. The cookie is a bit salty and quite crunchy. The sweet, mild vanilla yogurt doesn't overwhelm the vanilla cookie. The raspberry ones are good too. The yogurt coating adds a creaminess and tartness. While I like the tarty blueberry yogurt coating, the blueberry flavor overwhelms the cookie flavor. I think these cookies would be great with fro-yo. They're $3.99 for an 11 ounce bag. They look like they're inspired by July 4th (star-shaped red, white & blue cookies)

4.5 out of 5 stars.

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

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Soft Serve Fro-yo vs. Soft Serve Premium Ice Cream

Fro-yo girl here. It took me awhile to get here (would have been there earlier but they don't offer fro-yo) but I finally tried Bi-Rite's Creamery's soft serve ice cream, made with Straus Organic dairy products. I think they only have one size, cup or cone $3.50. They carry two flavors a day (see picture for the flavor schedule) and they have gourmet toppings. I was somewhat disappointed to see so many conventional flavors (vanilla, chocolate, strawberry). I was expecting creative flavors from Bi-Rite.

* Mexican chocolate soft serve: it's nice, has a deep, fudge flavor, smooth, creamy with a small kick (not very spicy, but you can tell that there's something extra)
* Vanilla soft serve: smooth, creamy, pleasing

Their soft serve does taste like it's made with better ingredients and it's good but I prefer soft-serve fro-yo and even Bi-Rite ice cream. I like how Bi-Rite incorporates additional texture into their ice cream. My favorites are Ricanelas (cinnamon with chunks of snickerdoodle cookies) and Coffee Toffee (Ritual Roasters coffee ice cream with toffee chunks). You can't get that texture in fro-yo (though of course you can add toppings) or soft serve ice cream. Good fro-yo tastes as good as or better than soft serve ice cream, it's lower in fat and may have live and active cultures. Yes, I prefer fro-yo.

* Bi-Rite Creamery: 3692 18th St. San Francisco, CA

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Double Rainbow Tart Fro-yo Review

Fro-yo girl here. I found Double Rainbow tart fro-yo at Rainbow Foods. Double Rainbow was founded in San Francisco in 1976.

Rainbow Food had all three flavors, pint size: Strawberry, Plain, Pomegranate Blueberry (regular price $2.89, on sale for $2.29). The fro-yo is non-fat, rBST-free and has live and active cultures and probiotics. The tagline is "refreshingly tart." They also sell a bulk size of the plain and strawberry flavors.

* Plain: very firm and creamy, like ice cream, quite tart, has too much citric acid (overpowers the natural yogurt flavor) but it's better than Trader Joe's plain tart, it's sweeter than TJ's version (has cane sugar and corn syrup).
* Strawberry: I liked this better than the plain because strawberry puree mellowed the citric acid, it was firm and creamy, a lot like a good strawberry sorbet meets strawberry ice cream with a nice tartness. It's a pretty pink, smooth and velvety in texture. It could use a stronger strawberry flavor...but still it's my favorite supermarket tart fro-yo. The Cefiore one is too airy.

4 stars out of 5

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

* RAINBOW GROCERY: 1745 Folsom St., San Francisco, CA

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Meet the Owner of Menchie's Peppertree Plaza

Fro-yo girl here. I had the chance to sit down and chat with Bob Lillard, owner of Menchie's Peppertree Plaza and resident of San Ramon. This is Bob's first fro-yo shop and the first northern California location of Menchie's.

How he wound up owning a Menchie's store. Bob's previous experiences include managing food and clothing stores and more recently, owning an IT business. On his annual trip to Yosemite with friends, he reconnected with a brother of a friend (Larry) who happened to be the owner of two Menchie's locations in SoCal. Bob already liked fro-yo, particularly the self-serve concept, and after talking to Larry, he was intrigued by the idea of owning his own Menchie's store. After he met the founders, he was convinced that Menchie's was the right opportunity for him.

What happens at the Menchie's new owner training. New owners go through a 1 week training session. They learn about how to operate the store, how to break down the fro-yo machines, how to fill the machines, how to troubleshoot the machines, etc. They also work in Menchie's stores to get hands on experience in all aspects of running the shop, from working the cash register, to cutting the fruit and beyond.

What makes Menchie's different. Customer service, being part of the community and the fun of making your own mix. He received over 250 job applications and so he was able to pick and choose people who were friendly and welcoming. He expects employees to greet each customer. New customers are given a quick explanation of how things work. He's arranged to offer free fro-yo to several elementary schools in the area. Some customers go there once, even twice a day and he's received many compliments about the fro-yo and the customer service.

Does he have good swirling skills? He says yes.

Does he eat fro-yo every day? Yes. And he's only tried 25 of the 100 or so Menchie's flavors, so he's still got plenty of flavors to try.

What's his favorite Menchie's mix? Red velvet fro-yo with fresh raspberries and cheesecake bits

What you didn't know about Menchie's Peppertree Plaza. The opening date was selected after consulting the Chinese calendar for a lucky day and the store has good feng shui. You may spot a lucky cat on the premises.

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

* MENCHIE'S PEPPERTREE PLAZA: 973 E. Stanley Blvd., Livermore, CA

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Getting to Know Menchie Better

Fro-yo girl here. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to get to know Menchie better during my visit to the new Livermore Menchie's. Menchie was and remains a mysterious but friendly character, one that doesn't speak.

Q: Is Menchie a boy or a girl?
A: Neither...or Menchie is one or the other only it's not known which.

Q: Does Menchie have friends?
A: There's only the Menchie character at this time. Menchie's non-human friends are unknown.

Q: What are Menchie's hobbies?
A: Spreading fro-yo joy and smiles

Okay, I didn't learn much but it's hard when Menchie doesn't speak and I didn't want to distract Menchie from greeting guests.

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

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Menchie's Peppertree Plaza Grand Opening Coverage

Fro-yo girl here. Menchie's Livermore turned 2 weeks old today and this weekend they're sharing the fro-yo love with a grand opening celebration. It started today at 11 AM...people lined up early hoping to be one of the first 25. The first 25 customers received a Menchie's gift bag. I'm looking at mine now and I have pictures to share.

* Signature bag with a picture of Menchie, Menchie's mix master magnet, Menchie's balloons (one pink, one green - their signature colors), a Menchie's wrist watch, Menchie's temporary tattoos, Menchie's round stickers, Menchie's button, Menchie's pencil that says what's your mix, white & black cotton t-shirt that you can color to make it look like your favorite mix, buy one get one free coupons. Yes, all that was in one gift bag.

Menchie came out from time to time to wave at customers and pose for pictures. There was also a life-size inflatable Menchie's doll out front. They were handing out free kids t-shirts and they had markers out front to color them in.

If you live close by, you may have been lucky enough to get a Menchie's doorhanger style coupon (it's a buy one get one free deal). They also had an ad in the Independent.

I'll have more about my visit in the next few days. I'll tell you what I learned about Menchie and share an interview with the owner of the Livermore Menchie's location.

If you get a chance, you should check out Menchie's grand opening celebration tomorrow. The first 25 customers will get a gift bag and Menchie will be there again! Also the pre-packed fro-yo quarts are buy one get one free; such a good deal!

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

* MENCHIE'S PEPPERTREE PLAZA: 973 E. Stanley Blvd., Livermore, CA

Friday, June 4, 2010

National Frozen Yogurt Day Pictures

Fro-yo girl here. As promised, I did have fro-yo for lunch today. I even ran into a fro-yo person at the shop (someone in the fro-yo biz). Here's my photographic contribution to National Frozen Yogurt Day. I'm sure you can tell which cup was swirled by me and which one was swirled by a fro-yo professional. Hope you are out there enjoying fro-yo. If you haven't had a cup yet today, go get some.

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

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Meet Menchie! Livermore Peppertree Plaza Grand Opening

Fro-yo girl here. I'm really excited about meeting Menchie in person this weekend. I've already prepared a list of interview questions. Menchie will be at the Peppertree Plaza grand opening celebration from 11 AM - 3 PM this Saturday and Sunday (June 5 & 6). On both days, the first 25 customers will receive a special gift bag (3 of them will contain iPod Shuffles). See the grand opening flyer here:

I'm also excited about checking out all the super cute Menchie's gear, like the t-shirts, Menchie dolls and whatever else they have....and sampling their 14 flavors of fro-yo too (of course).

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

* MENCHIE'S PEPPERTREE PLAZA: 973 E. Stanley Blvd., Livermore, CA

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Future Fro-yo Shop Pictures: Golden Spoon Frozen Yogurt in Belmont

Fro-yo girl here. Golden Spoon Belmont looks ready to open at any moment. The red & white tiles are in place, the signs are up and the black chairs are stacked inside. They're taking over the old Baskin Robbins space near Peet's Coffee. I jotted down the prices: $2.25 child, $3.25 regular, $4.25 large, $6.75 quart.

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

* GOLDEN SPOON FROZEN YOGURT: 1200 El Camino Real Unit A3, Belmont, CA