Brain freeze is on the prowl.
And with the sweltering summer heat that has left many searching for cool desserts that won’t provoke the waistline, frozen yogurt has been a welcomed, albeit devious, heat quencher.
A Yelp search for frozen yogurt in Toronto yields well over a hundred results – ample “fro-yo” options when compared to the 76 places that offer frozen yogurt in Vancouver, the 47 in Calgary or the 25 in Halifax; but Toronto does not measure up to the staggering 942 places that serve frozen yogurt in Manhattan, New York, with many purveyors now specializing in the customization of the treat.
In fact, Amsterdam Avenue in Manhattan’s Upper West Side has begrudgingly become “Yogurt Alley” to the ire of the business owners who peddle the ubiquitous frozen confection. Between West 72nd and West 86th streets, “fro-yo” aficionados can bask in their own indecision as they ponder the merits of self-serve versus artisan-scooped options at what will be seven different shops as of Aug. 31, “soon” to be a grand total of eight.
I prefer the spectacle of self-serve yogurt stations because this is where impulse thrives: gummy bears, fresh lychee, marshmallows, toffee chips, Cap’n Crunch, coconut shavings – the innumerable cavity-inducing etceteras offered will surely lull you into a candy-coated stupor. It’s a wonder that people can actually fool themselves into believing this stuff is healthy.
And as it turns out, the seemingly virtuous choice is actually a beast of a treat that is as sinful as it is sweet. Consider that non-fat or low-fat frozen yogurts carry 30 to 35 calories per ounce along with about 20 grams of sugar; this translates to 380 calories and 76 grams of sugar in your 16-ounce cup of yogurt, and that is before adding any toppings. And the probiotic benefits of yogurt are often lost when frozen, as the bacteria can’t survive the extreme environment of subzero temperatures.
My favourite irony about yogurt toppings is the high cost of packing it on. A friend once told me about his $20 cup of frozen yogurt that was a candied deluge so disgusting that he tossed the exorbitant treat after two bites.
The pay-by-the-weight aspect to self-serve yogurt is brilliant, especially when coupled with the obvious lack of self-control demonstrated at yogurt stations across the world. It bespeaks an excess that is so palpable that it’s shocking that people are capable of ignoring it for long enough to pay for their pint-sized glut.