I missed the whole Pinkberry thing. I was living in Japan when the popularity of frozen yogurt exploded, so by the time I moved back to LA, the backlash had already begun and everyone I knew hated it. When I finally got around to trying Pinkberry, I thought it was just…fine.
All of this is to say: I don’t go out for frozen yogurt very much.
I suspect it is because I see frozen yogurt for what it is — an occasional dessert — rather than what many people hope it is: a healthy habit. On the Master Dessert Spreadsheet I keep constantly updated in my brain, frozen yogurt ranks far below ice cream or sorbetto or milkshakes or many other frozen treats, no matter how many probiotics there are. I’ll get my Lactobacillus from kimchi or plain Greek yogurt, thanks.
So my ever-cynical eyes were open when I stopped by a local frozen yogurt spot with some friends last week. The place was packed, and all I could think besides Yum, coconut frozen yogurt was This is such a scam. Here’s why:
The Nutrition Information: At the Froyo Life shop I visited, each self-serve yogurt flavor had a nutritional information card next to it. At first glance, all the yogurts look remarkably low-calorie, clocking in around 22-25 calories per serving. Until you look at the serving size — one ounce. Five quarters weigh one ounce. A slice of bread weighs about one ounce. Would you ever serve yourself just one ounce of frozen yogurt? (And could you? Those machines spit the stuff out fast.) It would look ridiculous, especially in the big cups they give you, which brings me to…
The Cups: They are abnormally large. Rob filled up the smallest available cup to the brim with yogurt (I’m still not sure if this was an error in judgement or just his poor yogurt machine operating skills) and we calculated it to be about a pound of frozen yogurt. A pound of frozen yogurt.
Pinkberry’s cup sizes are similarly skewed. The nutrition info PDF on their website has slightly more realistic serving sizes, around 3.5 ounces or ½ cup per serving, but the only cup size that actually holds the equivalent of one serving is the Mini. The Small cup holds 1.4 servings and the Medium holds 2.3. If you get a Large, you are consuming 3.7 servings of frozen yogurt, or between 370-444 calories and 56-104 grams of sugar. That’s a lot of quarters and bread slices.
The Toppings: Frozen yogurt is not King Midas. Crumbled up Butterfingers and Oreo cookies do not transform into low-calorie, nutritious foods because they are touching yogurt. They make a fantastic DESSERT topping to your DESSERT of frozen yogurt, but they are not part of a healthy snack.
Sorry to the the Grinch of Froyo, but the veil of nutritiousness needs to be lifted. Frozen yogurt is a dessert — a low-fat, high-sugar dessert that tastes really good with a bunch of crumbled up candy bars and cookies on top of it. But then, what doesn’t?