When it comes to frozen yogurt shops, the difference between a great shop and a lousy one can be determined by two simple things: toppings and flavors.
I visited five of the most popular yogurt shops, all within a four-mile radius of the school to decide which one is the best.
CRAZY FOR YOGURT
Crazy for Yogurt has three locations in Sacramento; one is at 5150 Arden Way. Unlike other yogurt places, in addition to yogurt, Crazy for Yogurt also has shaved ice, smoothies, shakes, ice cream, root beer floats and baked goods.
As for the yogurt, there are six machines and 12 flavors, including one dairy-free flavor, cucumber lime, which was actually not half bad.
The yogurt itself is creamy and rich. For those who want yogurt that leans towards ice cream, this is the place.
Crazy for Yogurt does not make its own yogurt but buys it from Gold Country Distributors. This means that they get their yogurt in liquid form and then put it in their own machines.
As far as toppings go, there was nothing out of the ordinary. They had a large selection of candy, a small selection of fruit and various sauces, including caramel.
My only complaints are the few tart flavors and fruit toppings.
Pinkberry has by far the best interior design of all the shops. And the precision of the dimmed lights, the stone-designed floor and the smooth orange chairs is reflected in the yogurt.
Located at 2442 Fair Oaks Blvd. in Loehmann’s Plaza, this Pinkberry is one of 260 international shops.
Pinkberry has three machines and six different flavors, with one dairy-free option at all times.
And I liked all six of them, including coconut and cookies and cream.
Being a fan of tartness, I could feel my palate being brightened by the yogurt. When asked why it was so good, the worker said that it was because “when yogurt is frozen, unfrozen, and frozen again, it begins to lose its flavor, (but) Pinkberry makes its own.”
Though I was sure about which flavor to get, I wasn’t sure about size. Pinkberry isn’t a self-serve shop. The employee dispenses the yogurt and puts the toppings on. For some, this might not be a problem, but for me this is everything. Self service allows me to get my yogurt just the way I want it.
Leaving my fate in the server’s hands, I selected coconut (the dairy-free flavor). Believe it or not, the fact that the yogurt was dairy-free made it better, as Pinkberry uses coconut milk, producing a rich, tart flavor.
But then it came time for toppings. Even though Pinkberry has only six candy toppings, they also have the most fruit toppings, including watermelon and mango bites.
When I asked how many I could get, the server said however many fit.
In a self-serve yogurt shop, this would never be an issue.
Nevertheless, I was mostly satisfied by the look of my yogurt, so I asked about the pricing. They told me that there are four different sizes (small, medium, large and cone), costing from $3.50-$6.50, but that’s without toppings. Each size is $1.45 more for toppings.
Keep in mind that you can get a large, on which you might be able to fit five toppings, for $1.45 instead of a small, on which you can fit only three.
Located on 2381 Fair Oaks Blvd., Yogurtland, like Pinkberry, makes its own yogurt.
With eight machines and 16 flavors, Yogurtland is known for its multitude of options, including its two dairy-free choices, rocket pop and strawberry lemonade.
Unfortunately, the taste of the yogurt is a slight step down from the others. The chocolate is less rich than its competitors’, and the vanilla is less creamy. As far as the other flavors go, none were out of the ordinary.
It’s clear that they spent more time coming up with the name Alphonso Mango Tart than perfecting the flavor.
Yogurtland has six fruit toppings and the smallest number of candy toppings.
Actually, the best thing about Yogurtland is the comprehensive labeling. For example, above strawberry lemonade was written “dairy-free,” “gluten free” and “nonfat.”
Yogurtland changes its theme – which involves changing the spoons, cups, and decor – every two to three months. Past themes have included Kung Fu Panda, Super Mario, and Candy Crush.
Big Spoon, located on 3644 J St., is one of six shops in Sacramento. Big Spoon has three machines and six flavors.
To be honest, nothing at Big Spoon was impressive. The two most interesting aspects are the root beer float machine (also at Crazy for Yogurt) and the different pie filling toppings, including apple and cherry.
As someone who loves pie, this looked like heaven to me. But it was not. After only one bite of the apple pie filling, I decided to avoid the rest of them. There are hardly any fruit toppings but lots of candy.
Big Spoon also buys its yogurt from Big West Distribution. The yogurt at Big Spoon is surprisingly bland – every bite is the same thing.
The only tart flavor was the dairy-free option, sour green apple, which overall symbolizes Big Spoon entirely. Somewhat runny and truly unpleasant, the sour green apple was by far the worst dairy-free option I tried.
The yogurt costs 52 cents per ounce but should be less for the quality.
The only single-shop business I visited, Yo-Yo Yogurt was also the only shop with the feel of a non-mass producer. Located in Lyon Village Shopping Center (2580 Fair Oaks Blvd.), Yo-Yo makes the space feel open and inviting with its tall glass windows.
Inside, there are four machines and eight flavors. Owner Marque Molodanof said “the machines are cleaned every other day,” the most frequently of all the yogurt shops.
Yo-Yo gets its yogurt from a variety of distributors, including Terranova, Gold Country Distributors and Big West Distribution. However, the refreezing doesn’t seem to affect its flavor. The vanilla is subtle and creamy, and the chocolate is dense and fresh.
There are usually two dairy-free yogurt flavors, too. Dole Pineapple tasted as it did when I visited the Dole Headquarters in Hawaii. The tart is sharp, and there are plenty of fruit toppings to go on top of it.
There’s also plenty of candy and nuts to go on the yogurt. And Yo-Yo’s sauces include hot fudge, marshmallow, caramel and chocolate shell. In addition, you can put your yogurt into a cone.
—By Jackson Margolis