07 June 2007

In N Out

If you thought Pink Berry's (or Red Mango's or Kiwi Berry's) were set to take over the world, get a load of Yogurt World. Fad foods come in cycles and the latest craze -- if you've haven't seen the lines -- is low-fat yogurt. I personally think Pink Berry's and Co. is way overrated. Stand in line to buy overpriced frozen yogurt that tastes like regular yogurt? Pass.

James informed me however, that there was a new self-serve yogurt place in Convoy which was the talk of San Diego. Upon first inspection, the idea of a whole store dedicated to self-serve yogurt is pretty lame. I can get self-serve yogurt with customized toppings any time I want; it's called Souplantation. Or my old college dorm's dining hall. What's the big deal?

There are plenty of stand alone frozen yogurt places (Froglander's and TCBY comes to mind) still around, even if they seem on the verge of financial freefalls every time you neglect to get extra toppings. I almost feel bad for these once crowded yogurt places, who rode high on the wave of frozen yogurt in the early 90's but are now faced with extinction like those tie-dye puffy paint T-shirt places.

It must kill them that the next trend of yogurt domination will be a little corner store that has virtually no staff, low overhead, and has customers serving themselves. We visited Yogurt World on a Tuesday night and the place was jam packed with a line stretching way out the door. The crowd of forty was mostly college students with plenty of time to spare; college students willing to spend twenty minutes in line are the target demographic apparently.

For 38-cents an ounce, you can get as much yogurt as you want (in tart and sweet flavors), dump on as many toppings as your eyes desire (get the mochi balls, it's killer), and then get the faux satisfaction of having had a healthy dessert.

This set-up is a financial gold mine. A staff of three collects and cleans, the yogurt serves itself, and the money just comes pouring in. It's ridiculous. We overheard a few enterprising college students remarking about how easy this idea was and how they should just do it. It's that simple. The crazy thing about it all is that only one out of a thousand people will actually man up and start a self-serve yogurt shop -- getting rich in the process -- while the rest of the world still tries to figure out what we want to do for our "careers."

The worst thing about it all is that I don't even like frozen yogurt -- much less waiting in line for it -- but since two days ago, it's been my number one food craving. It's addictive like boba and that's about the highest praise I can offer any food item.