Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Apple Pie the Flavor of the Month

Fro-yo girl here. The poll results are in. I recently asked readers to select the fro-yo flavor that best represents November. Apple pie won easily, with 51% of the vote. Caramel came in 2nd place with 24%, followed by cheesecake (19%), cookies n’ cream (2%) and peanut butter (2%).

Poll takers might not have realized that November is Peanut Butter Lovers Month and National Apple Pie Day is May 13. It was started as Peanut Butter Lovers Day on November 4, 1990. Dr. John Harvey Kellogg applied for the first patent for peanut butter on November 4, 1895.

Something about the fall evokes warm, baked, comfort foods and squash. Apple pie, apple pie filling, warm sauces, caramel, brownies, sweet potatoes, apples, cranberries, and cinnamon. I’ve seen apple pie fro-yo and warm apple pie filling...topped with cinnamon.

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

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Mochi at Culture Organic Frozen Yogurt, Finally

Fro-yo girl here. Thanksgiving is over and I’m feeling grateful that Culture finally added mochi as a fro-yo topping this month. I waited over three years for this moment.

Their mochi is good (soft and chewy) but small. I like big, pillowy mochi cubes.

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

* CULTURE ORGANIC FROZEN YOGURT: 340 S. California Ave., Palo Alto, CA

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Fro-yo Thanksgiving

Fro-yo girl here. Happy Thanksgiving fro-yo fans! I hope you enjoy the day and save room for fro-yo. Thanksgiving is about being grateful for one’s blessings and spending time with loved ones. I thought I’d share a drawing by my niece, Fro-yo Niece. It shows us going out for fro-yo. It looks like I’m having mango tart fro-yo with strawberry sauce and fresh blackberries.She’s having strawberry fro-yo with fresh strawberries and a wafer cookie. I’m looking forward to having fro-yo for dessert on Thanksgiving, of course.

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

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tagtile: Identify & Engage Your Customers, Grow Your Business

Fro-yo girl here. I wanted to tell my readers about Tagtile, a new and better way for local businesses to build customer loyalty and increase repeat purchase rates.

Paper stamp cards can create loyalty by rewarding purchase frequency but the merchant doesn’t learn much about the customer base. Twitter and Facebook are good for announcements and promotions, but they’re not good for tracking which customers respond.

New mobile loyalty apps like Tagtile make it more convenient for customers to collect stamps (or tags) and receive targeted offers, messages and reminders on their mobile phones. To earn a tag using Tagtile, the customer launches the Tagtile app and taps his/her phone next to the Tagtile Cube. The Tagtile Cube tracks in-store transactions. The Cube works without an internet connection or it can be integrated with most Point of Sale systems.

By connecting customer identity information with purchase history, Tagtile enables businesses to build a rich database of their users and leverage that data to run highly targeted direct marketing campaigns. The online merchant console makes it easy for merchants to learn about their customer base, including visit frequency, number of first time customers, daily usage, offer redemption rates and more. It also includes mobile marketing tools that enable the merchant to send special offers and notifications to their customers.

Tagtile is founded by alumni from Google and Stanford University and is based in San Francisco.

For additional information and to get started, visit the Tagtile website or email hello@tagtile.com

Download the free Tagtile mobile app from iTunes and Android phones.

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

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Meisan Blueberry Nodoame Review

Fro-yo girl here. I found another Japanese yogurt candy. Meisan Blueberry Nodoame is a hard candy that comes in a pouch. Each piece is individually wrapped. The candy is a round, thick disk, like a Life Saver but without a hole.

The blueberry flavor is strong and good but there’s also a bitter flavor that isn’t pleasant. Must be the herb extract they added. There is no yogurt flavor (disappointing) though the ingredients include concentrated yogurt. I think it might be a cough drop. If it is a cough drop, it’s a good one, similar to Ricola’s Mixed Berry but better.

A 2.96 oz. bag is $2.49 at Marina.

3 out of 5 stars.

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

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The New Wave of Universal Frequent Buyer Cards

Fro-yo girl here. I recently noticed a surge of new universal loyalty card/app vendors at local Bay Area businesses. As someone who carries around a staggering amount of fro-yo loyalty cards, I welcome any type of universal loyalty card program.Due to wallet bloat, I have to restrict my card carrying to my very favorite places.

These are the four universal frequent buyer cards that I’ve encountered:

* FIVESTARS: The merchant registers you by asking for your phone number. Users get a plastic card and a plastic tag with a barcode that they can attach to a keychain. To earn points, the merchant scans the barcode. There is no mobile app, so you can’t see where you’ve earned points unless you register online (then you can check your points on their website). It’s easy to use but seems old school.

* PERKVILLE: An email based loyalty program popular with stylish coffeehouses, Perkville users enter their email address into the merchant’s iPad. Since I’m too lazy to type in my email address, I haven’t joined. However, they feel that their solution is superior since customers don’t have to download a mobile app and it can be used by just about anyone.

* STAMPT: Users download a free mobile app. To earn a stamp, you launch the Stampt app, select the business and take a picture of the QR code that the merchant supplies. It’s fairly easy to use but doesn’t seem to be engaging users (e.g., I don’t see people using it). I do like how it tracks your stamps on your active cards on your mobile phone and shows you nearby offers.

* TAGTILE: This was my favorite loyalty card experience. I downloaded the free mobile app. To earn a tag, I launched the app, selected the business, and waved my phone close to the Tagtile Cube. It was the easiest and coolest to use. The app shows me where I’ve earned tags and where the other offers in the area are. The Cube tracks in store transactions and can be integrated with most point of sale systems.

I noticed some businesses were using more than one vendor because they had multiple offers. Adoption rates seem to be higher at coffeehouses but I think fro-yo shops are a perfect fit for these new loyalty programs. If I didn’t have a smartphone, Five Stars would be my favorite but since I do, I find Tagtile to be the most compelling solution.

Customers with existing stamp cards can ask the merchant to add stamps to their new universal loyalty card.

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

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Fro-yo & Pho: The Pho Bar vs. Yo Pho

Fro-yo girl here. The Bay Area now has two establishments that serve pho and fro-yo: The Pho Bar in Berkeley and Yo Pho in Milpitas. I tried both to see which had the better pho and the better fro-yo.

* Pho vs. Pho: The Pho Bar’s pho is yuppified with hormone free meat and elegantly cut onions and scallions. It comes with the typical pho add-ins. It’s a pretty bowl of soup, not the most flavorful but good. Yo Pho’s broth is dark but lacks richness. They claim to specialize in Northern style pho, which would explain the simpler broth. Pho Bar’s was $1.50 more but they provided more meat of higher quality.
Winner: The Pho Bar

* Fro-yo vs. Fro-yo: Pho Bar has one flavor of fro-yo, Sketch organic tart, it’s refreshing, icy and explosive in flavor. So good! You can add seasonal fresh fruit but that’s the only toppings option they offer. Yo Pho offers 10 flavors of self-serve fro-yo and toppings for 30 cents an ounce. The fro-yo was runny and tasted weird.
Winner: The Pho Bar

Pho and fro-yo may seem a strange combination but The Pho Bar masters it.

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

* THE PHO BAR: 1828 Euclid Ave., Berkeley, CA
* YO PHO: 242 Serra Way, Milpitas, CA

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Lotte Samkang Cider and Yogurt Flavored Ice Bar Review

Fro-yo girl here. I found another Korean fro-yo popsicle, Lotte Samkang Cider & Yogurt Flavored Ice Bar. The flavor sounded strange (cider & yogurt). A bag of six individually wrapped popsicles was $4.99. The popsicles are imported from Korea. Each bar is 80 calories and doesn’t have live and active cultures.

The popsicle looks like a pale white square bar and it’s very icy and hard. It tastes like those very sugary yogurt drinks only not as good because it isn’t tangy. It’s way sweet and tastes a bit like bubblegum. Very artificial. There are yellow and pink bits and they’re just like hard pieces of ice with no flavor. It’s refreshing but tastes awful.

Ingredients: water, skimmed milk powder, whey powder, refined salt, coconut oil, artificial flavor, stabilizer, emulsifier, food coloring

2 out of 5 stars.

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

* NIJIYA MARKET:1737 Post St #333, San Francisco, CA

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Mobile Fro-yo Trucks

Fro-yo girl here. Forget about ice cream trucks...fro-yo trucks have arrived. I’ve been impressed by the number of mobile fro-yo trucks on the streets and wanted to take stock of the existing fro-yo trucks. Not all the trucks wander the streets. Some are just available for special events. Some are self-serve.

* Berry Froyo Truck (NYC, NY), @BerryFroyoTruck
* Joyride (NYC, NY), @joyridetruck, fro-yo and Stumptown Coffee
* Gozen Yogurt (Philadelphia, PA), @GozenYogurt
* The Froyo Truck (Boston, MA), @thefroyotruck
* Sweetflow Mobile (Washington DC), @SweetflowMobile, Sweetgreen’s truck carries fro-yo and salads
* Tasty Yo (Charlotte, NC), @TastyYo
* LoYo Truck (Greenville, NC): Local Yogurt’s truck is available for special events
* Culture The Yogurt Society (Chicago, IL), @culture, from the founder of Berry Chill
* Kefir Truck (Chicago, IL), @Starfruit Cafe, frozen kefir, a cousin of fro-yo
* Forever Truck (Chicago, IL), @foreverTruck, the mobile version of Forever Yogurt
* YoLo Mobile (Memphis, TN), from YoLo Frozen Yogurt, available for special events
* The Yogurt Truck (Boulder, CO), @TheYogurtTruck
* Big Swirl Truck (Los Angeles, CA): once roamed the streets, now just available for private catering events, http://bigswirltruck.com/
* Strati Organic (Los Angeles, CA), @stratiorganic, organic fro-yo with specialty toppings
* Lickety Split (Santa Barbara, CA), @LicketyTruck
* Twisted Chill (San Jose, CA), @chilltruck: not technically fro-yo, self-serve non-dairy soft-serve, made with lactose free milk, 2 fro-yo machines
* YoMobile (Reno, NV), from Mmmmm Yogurt, available for private events, seems to be for sale

That’s 18 mobile fro-yo vendors. NYC and Chicago have the most mobile fro-yo trucks. If I left a fro-yo truck off the list, let me know.

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

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Future Fro-yo Shop Picture: Yogurtland Burlingame

Fro-yo girl here. Yogurtland is finally coming to the Peninsula! Burlingame Fro-yo Spy broke the news to me. The newly remodeled Safeway includes some new buildings for restaurants. Yogurtland’s sign is up, along with Five Guys and Which Wich?

I can finally get my Yogurtland spoons without crossing a bridge or driving over an hour. Yay!

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

* YOGURTLAND BURLINGAME: 225 Primrose Rd., Burlingame, CA

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Peppermint Pinkberry

Fro-yo girl here. I tried the new Peppermint Pinkberry with peppermint bark today and it’s perfect for the holiday season. It smells amazing....like candy canes and that’s how it tastes. I love how it’s creamy yet refreshing. It’s sweet (but not too sweet) without any tangy or sour notes (the base isn’t tart). Any chocolate topping would be fabulous with Peppermint Pinkberry but it would be hard to top chunks of Peppermint Bark (one of my favorite candies). The peppermint bark adds a slight crunch.

I prefer Peppermint Pinkberry to their recent rich, indulgent fro-yo flavors (salted caramel, peanut butter).

Peppermint Pinkberry is available till January 5.

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

Friday, November 4, 2011

Favorite Fro-yo Chain Poll Results

Fro-yo girl here. I recently asked my readers to choose their favorite fro-yo chain. The results are in and Yogurtland won easily with 49% of the votes. Pinkberry came in 2nd with 35% of the votes and Red Mango placed third with 14%.

Red Mango was named the best fro-yo and smoothie chain by Zagat in September 2011, based on Zagat’s Fast Food Poll, based on the votes of 6,064 diners. Red Mango beat out Pinkberry, TCBY, Smoothie King and Jamba Juice. It looks like Yogurtland wasn’t included in the Zagat poll.

The three chains have roughly the same number of locations in the U.S. (Yogurtland has the most, Pinkberry the least) and they represent different service levels. Pinkberry is full service, Yogurtland is self-serve and Red Mango has both full-service and self-serve outlets.

While the number of voters was much smaller with my poll (81 votes, 1 vote per person), my readers are passionate about fro-yo. I consider them to be fro-yo industry opinion leaders.

There’s much to admire about Yogurtland. They have a dedicated flavorologist who comes up with creative fro-yo flavors, they introduce new flavors often, they popularized limited edition fro-yo spoons, and they’ve had some adorable partnerships with Tokidoki and Sanrio. They even have giant fro-yo spoon door handles (Capitola, CA) and college specific fro-yo signs (UC Berkeley’s mascot, Oski the Bear, prefers Bears Mango fro-yo).

Congratulations Yogurtland!

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

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Stonyfield Oikos Frozen Greek Yogurt Review

Fro-yo girl. I found Stonyfield Oikos Frozen Greek Yogurt on a recent trip to Whole Foods. Whole Foods on California carried 3 of the 4 flavors: Honey, Blueberry, Vanilla. Chocolate was missing. A pint was $4.99 (regular price). The fro-yo is non-fat and organic.

* Oikos frozen Greek yogurt, honey flavor: it was easily scoopable with ice cream like texture, soft and creamy, the flavor was sweet. The fro-yo was not tangy and did not have a refreshing edge. There was a visible small swirl of honey. The fro-yo lacked flavor and had an unpleasant, weird aftertaste. Maybe I didn’t like the honey they used and how it seemed more like ice cream than fro-yo. I’ve had honey flavored fro-yo that I liked from Yogurtland (honeycomb tart) and I love yogurt with honey, but I didn’t like Oikos honey fro-yo.

3 out of 5 stars.

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

* WHOLE FOODS: 1765 California St., San Francisco, CA