Yogurtland - Fullerton
I don't know when it started exactly, but by the time the LA Times published its story last August, the Pinkberry phenomenon had reached a deafening crescendo. Words like "crackberry" were being thrown around (to convey its apparent addictive qualities), along with other over-the-top hyperboles and stories of lines longer than a Star Wars movie premiere.
Before long, copycats like Kiwiberry and Roseberry sprung up to vie for a piece of the action. Then, as with all things fueled on hype, inevitable backlash ensued. "Too expensive," some said. "What's the big deal?" asked others.
Even the Deep End Diner himself, Eddie Lin, broke from writing about fetal duck eggs and bull penis to chime in on the craze. The title of his post: "Punk'dBerry." His verdict: the emperor had no clothes.
Still, the story has kept me fascinated to this day. Entrepreneurial success; fanaticism; possible trademark infringement; this saga had it all. Who would have thought that it was all about frozen yogurt? You heard that right.
But it's real frozen yogurt, its devotees will point out, touted for its health benefits, tangy taste, and icy mouth-feel.
Sitting in front of my computer in Irvine, reading about all the ruckus, the praise, the breathless enthusiasm, and even the sane voices of reason, one thought kept crossing my mind: when are they going to open in OC already?
Now, it seems, my wait is over. But not because Pinkberry has finally decided to venture south. On the contrary, I was made aware on the existence of a place that renders any such plans moot. Here within our county line, was a homegrown "real" frozen yogurt shop for OC to call its own, and it comes without a "berry" suffix, nor the hype associated with it.
Located inside what is also a Bobaloca franchise in Fullerton, Yogurtland has such an off-the-rack moniker, one wouldn't expect much more than a Golden Spoon clone at best. But its remarkably varied array of sixteen flavor choices easily beats Pinkberry by fourteen and Golden Spoon by at least six.
Among them is a flavor called Plain Yogurt, which flaunts the tart-tangy-icy formula made popular by the Pink-Kiwi-Rose-berries. The others Yogurtland offers are of the usual soft-serve variety, all pleasantly sweet and delightfully creamy.
The roster reads as follows:
Apart from the flavors, Yogurtland's primary competitive advantage and defining characteristic is that the yogurt is self served and priced at $0.30 per ounce.
Sugar Free Vanilla
Sugar Free Chocolate
New York Cheesecake
Cookies and Cream
This is an operational and pricing model that appeals to both the control freak and the cheapskate in me.
You take a clear tub from tall stack next to the entrance. Leading up to the cashier, lined up side-by-side on the right wall, are the yogurt dispensers, eight in all, where you can pump out as much of the frozen confection as your sweet tooth desires and your wallet allows. Each machine holds two flavor spouts, with a middle spout outputting a mix of the two.
Then there are the toppings. A refrigerated cart holds chopped fruit, like strawberry, blueberry, pineapple, and mango. Dry toppings in jars line a shelf above it, and include nuts, chocolate chips, and rainbow sprinkles. Finally, once you've completed construction on your frogurt masterpiece, it's off to the weighing scale and checkout.
On the last visit, my goal was to pipe a sample of all sixteen flavors into my bowl, but I only got as far as six before I ran out of room. What I need is a wider container. Here's what I'm thinking: paella pan.
What I did manage to cram into the tub provided was the chocolate and vanilla; the blueberry and plain yogurt; and the strawberry and New York cheesecake. I topped it off with some diced strawberry, kiwi and mango for a dessert with a refreshing icyness, a not-too-rich creaminess, and a mouth-filling smoothness so addictive that I fought the urge to go back for seconds.
Pinkberry might have LA eating yogurt out of its paws, but with Yogurtland's plans already in play to open in Irvine and other locations, it might just do the same for OC.
501 N State College Blvd
Fullerton, CA 92831