By Viper Allan
It seems that no matter where you go in Raleigh these days, you are going to see a frozen yogurt shop.
They are on display in bustling shopping centers, they are set up mall kiosks, they are thriving on both sleepy and busy downtown streets, and they are nestled in independent collectives like Five Points.
These shops are chilly in temperature, but warm in service, and perfect for satisfying a sweet tooth craving in Raleigh’s hot summers that seem to last on up into December.
Lighter than either ice cream or gelato, unflavored (often marketed as “tart” or “original tart” due to the tartness resulting from the fermentation of the yogurt) frozen yogurt will run you around 20-30 calories per ounce depending on the distributor, compared to ice cream’s 60-plus.
Like ice cream, frozen yogurt is distributed in a variety of flavors, from your everyday chocolate and vanilla to exotic flavors like taro (available at YoPop) and pomegranate (available at Tutti Frutti and others) to unexpected flavors like key lime pie (available at YogenFruz) and caramel pretzel (available at Moonlight Swirl and Yogurt Mountain) to seasonal flavors like pumpkin (available at Menchie’s) and eggnog (available at YoPop).
Most shops also offer a variety of toppings including fruit, cereal, candy, and pieces of baked goods. For a cheap, quick fix, though, skip the toppings! The yogurt itself is light, and even just $1 of yogurt is satisfying! The toppings, especially the heavy fruit and sauces, will drive the price up.
With the exception of Yummy Monkey at Five Points and some YogenFruz locations, all frozen yogurt shops are self-serve and are priced by the ounce, generally within the 40-55 cent range, making it easy to enjoy on a college student budget.
So which frozen yogurt shop is the best? My vote goes to Menchie’s, a locally-owned installation of a chain of stores advising patrons to “have a smiley day!”
In other environments, taglines like this may seem forced, but the employees are all genuinely friendly people who come to know their customers by name and speak with them as friends upon each visit without trying to push a sale.
Additionally, Menchie’s changes up their flavors very frequently, the list of which they post on their Facebook page located here: https://www.facebook.com/menchiessuttonsquare .
“We have [a] new flavor every day,” said store manager Helen Nguyen.
Consistent are unlisted and are comprised of chocolate, original tart, and vanilla. Menchie’s really stands out with their sorbets and sugar-free yogurts, but their nonfat and low-fat dairy yogurts are excellent as well, and come in such flavors as blueberry acai tart, banana bread, tiramisu, and mandarin chocolate.
They’re also charity-friendly. For the past several weeks, patrons have been offered a chance to donate a dollar with each purchase to help fight muscular dystrophy. Donating gets you a 15% coupon and your name on the wall.
What else does Menchie’s offer? “People love us because we’re so colorful,” said Nguyen, describing the bright, happy color scheme of the store, littered with images of the Menchie’s characters, exponentially cuter than the McDonald’s crew of characters from the 80s and 90s.
“Kids love it.”
Adults do too.