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Manchester’s Frozen Yoghurt Phenomenon

Kathryn Woodcock takes a frozen yoghurt induced tour of Manchester city centre

Written by . Published on August 10th 2012.


Manchester’s Frozen Yoghurt Phenomenon

FIRST came the cupcake phenomenon.

Umpteen cupcake shops simultaneously sprouted out of nowhere, each attempting to sell a unique range of, erm, exactly the same product.

With a new season comes a new sensation and this summer Manchester city centre is being hit by the full force of a fro yo phenomenon.

Frozen yoghurt bars have been popping up on every street corner, begging the all-too-obvious question: Does Manchester really need this much frozen yoghurt?

Small plastic spoon in hand, Kathryn Woodcock set about the Manchester fro yo journey...


SNOWY JOE'S

History:

Snowy Joe’s is on the upper floor of Manchester Arndale, with another parlour in Blackburn. It’s been open for 15-20 years, making it an exception to the recent frozen yoghurt mania, though it has to be said it looks a little outdated now compared to the rest. Despite this, the place is obviously popular, given the extent to which my interview was interrupted by eager customers in need of an ice cream or two.

Snowy Joe's in Manchester ArndaleSnowy Joe's in Manchester Arndale

What does it taste like?

To my slight disappointment, there were only two flavours of frozen yoghurt on offer: berry mixer and natural (one scoop £2.10, two scoops £2.80, three scoops £3.50). Berry mixer is the most popular, but I was a little let down by the blandness of the yoghurt in comparison to competitors. The yoghurt is served in a cone, so you don’t get the option of smothering it in gloriously calorific toppings. Instead, Snowy Joe’s selling point is its wonderful and wacky ice cream flavours, from standard vanilla to rhubarb crumble and candy floss. Or those who want to skip the cold treats altogether, there’s also cupcakes (£1.75 or four for £6.50) and donuts (£1.20 or three for £3.10) covered in everything imaginable.

Is it healthy?

Since Snowy Joe’s sells mostly ice cream and only has two flavours of frozen yoghurt, there aren’t many fat-free options for those of us watching our waistlines. When asked if there was anything else healthy on offer, the optimistic staff said: “the doughnuts also have a hole in the middle!”

You can’t argue with that.  

Yoghurt or doughnuts, yoghurt or doughnuts...Yoghurt or doughnuts, yoghurt or doughnuts...

What happens in winter?

To keep business flowing during colder months, staff at Snowy Joe’s don a selection of Christmas fancy dress outfits so that your freezing cold treat is served by Santa himself. Though we all love the Christmas spirit, I don’t think this would encourage many of us to buy a cold dessert on an even colder day. But then perhaps I’m just being a Scrooge.

Snowy Joe's for yoghurt, ice cream and moreSnowy Joe's for yoghurt, ice cream and more

What makes it different?

Staff at Snowy Joe’s say their defining factor is the wider variety of products they have on offer. From Slushies and ice cream to doughnuts and cupcakes, it would be hard to find such variety elsewhere. I have to admit I was sceptical when I first heard this claim, but after visiting other competitors Snowy Joe’s was the only one to sell warm treats as well as cold. Go there to be spoilt for choice.

Snowy Joe’s (Upper Level, Arndale Centre, Manchester M4 3AQ, telephone: 0161 839 1182)

YOFRO

History:  

YoFro, also found on the upper floor of Manchester Arndale, is celebrating its year anniversary on 1 September, meaning it sprang up in the midst of the fro yo invasion. Frriendly owner, Stephen, started the business from scratch. His obvious enthusiasm for the trade was nice to see, and the staff’s friendly rapport with customers right in the middle of the mall was impressive.

YoFro in Manchester ArndaleYoFro in Manchester Arndale

What does it taste like?

Stephen gave me two servings of frozen yoghurt (small £2, medium £3, large £4.50 per topping). The naughty serving was chocolate flavoured yoghurt piled high with creamy Nutella and crushed nuts, which frankly tasted amazing. The Nutella had become slightly chewy against the coldness of the dessert which gave it a great texture in contrast to the smoothness of the yoghurt. It was basically everything you could expect from a dessert that calorific and I couldn’t put down the spoon. The healthier natural yoghurt was just as heavenly; the texture and flavour resembled ice cream, which provided the wonderful illusion that you were treating yourself without the impending flab-fear. This healthier option is the most popular at YoFro and I can see why: a guilty pleasure, minus the guilt.  

Is it healthy?

YoFro’s frozen yoghurt is zero per cent fat, with a small serving having the same calorific content as an apple. Baffling, I know. Stephen said:  “Some customers come by simply because they love the taste.” This means there’s endless amounts of scrumptious Nutella, crushed Oreos, chocolate buttons and so on, as well as fresh fruit for the health nuts.   

Heavenly YoFro offeringsHeavenly YoFro offerings

What happens in winter?

YoFro have some pretty original ideas for the winter months. The idea of mulled wine flavoured yoghurt had me drooling; it would taste perfect with crumbled mince pie topping. Hot-bottoms – a layer of hot cake wedged underneath a layer of frozen yoghurt – sound divine, and the notion of hot toppings is just the icing on the cake. Roll on December.   

YoFro, the fun without the fatYoFro, the fun without the fat

What makes it different?

YoFro is as original and wacky as frozen yoghurt can get. Themed days include ‘Monday Madness’, which involves the choice of some crazy and questionable toppings, the wildest example of which is salt and vinegar crisps. Don’t ask. ‘Totally Topping Tuesday’ gives a free topping to customers fulfilling a random criterion such as wearing pink shoes that day. For ‘Secret Word Wedsnesday’ a witty password is put on YoFro’s Facebook page so those brave enough to announce the embarrassing phrase over the counter will have their bravery rewarded with a lower price or larger serving. Finally there’s ‘YoFro Challenge Sunday’ where staff are set random yoghurt related challenges that are videoed and uploaded to Facebook the next day. These guys definitely have a sense of humour.

YoFro (Upper Mall Arndale Centre, Manchester, M4 3AQ, telephone: 07949 178408) Website: www.yofro.tv, Twitter: @yummyyofro

FRURT

History:

Frurt in Spinningfields is a family run frozen yoghurt place with only two in the country, the other on Whitworth Street West. It’s another of the newly created frozen yoghurt businesses and it offered the first non-dairy yoghurt in the UK. In addition, their yoghurt has been certified Kosher by a Rabi and also contains twenty billion friendly bacteria according to the owner. Luckily for us, they’re looking to expand and also introduce a self-serve yoghurt section so we don’t have to waste all that time deciding at the counter.

Frurt in SpinningfieldsFrurt in Spinningfields

What does it taste like?

Among the standard variety of fresh fruit and naughty treats, there were a few toppings I hadn’t seen elsewhere – Hershey’s cookies and cream, Reese’s Pieces, Agar jelly – but the best of the bunch was a selection of marble-sized fruity juice balls that burst in your mouth like some kind of fruity bubble explosion. These really complimented the fruit toppings, filling your mouth with a geyser of flavour. The yoghurt itself came in natural, lemon, strawberry and mango flavours (small £2.50, large £3.50, 50p per topping) with lemon being the most popular as a result of its zesty kick.  

Is it healthy?

Frurt’s claim that their yoghurt is low in fat was once challenged by a rather bold customer who argued that most sweets are just as low in fat, but still rack up a large calorific content. Frurt however, insist on making their own yoghurt fresh in-store rather than buying large quantities of pre-made product. This is great news for health-freaks everywhere, given the lower sugar and calorie content. Syed, my interviewee, said: “It’s not only a treat but a lifestyle.”

A fresh fruit example at FrurtA fresh fruit example at Frurt

What happens in winter?

Given that our winters are painfully long, in a month’s time Frurt is introducing yoghurt frappes and a porridge selection with hot toppings to match. Hot toppings seem to be a recurring winter theme in all frozen yoghurt venues but the yoghurt frappes at Frurt are a pretty original touch.

Toppings at FrurtToppings at Frurt

What makes it different?

Frurt has a particular edge over its competitors, an edge that takes the form of a celebrity clientele – they’ve had JLS, British star Chipmunk, Coronation street and Eastenders actors all guzzling down their delicious treats. If it’s good enough for the s’lebs...

Frurt (Hardman Street, Spinningfield, Manchester, M3 3HF, telephone 0161 312 4303) Website:  frurt.com Twitter: @frurtfroyo

FROYO BERRY

History:

The newest member of the frozen yoghurt brigade, FroYo Berry on Cross Street, has been open a grand total of one day. The frozen yoghurt phenomenon is clearly far from over. It’s a family run business, the owners having researched the market for a while before setting up, and their first 24 hours of business have been pretty successful so they say.

FroYo BerryFroYo Berry

What does it taste like?

The first thing I noticed was that FroYo Berry’s yoghurt (small £2.45, medium £2.95, large £3.45, one topping 50p, two toppings 90p) was far more… well, yoghurt-y. Most of the other frozen yoghurts I’d tried had a sorbet type quality to them, but FroYo Berry’s was thicker, smoother and much less like ice cream. Some might think this is a bad thing but I think frozen yoghurt should be exactly that. The most popular flavour, watermelon, had a luscious sweetness and fruitiness to it, while still maintaining that great yoghurt-y texture.

Is it healthy?

Again with the recurring theme, FroYo Berry’s yoghurts are fat and gluten free, packed with probiotics for the extra healthy gut. But something rather different that caught my eye was a curious weight loss drink, Neuro Trim, that apparently expands in your stomach to keep hunger at bay.  While this is great for excessive dieters, the allure of the nearby fro-yo alternative would distract the majority of us far too easily.

FroYo Berry, the most yoghurt-y of them allFroYo Berry, the most yoghurt-y of them all

What happens in winter?

Everyone loves the Manchester Christmas market so you can imagine my glee when I found out that FroYo Berry is thinking of going there to sell healthy festive crepes with frozen yoghurt fillings this winter. Another hot treat and curious creation on offer - Matcha Tea – is the equivalent of having fifteen cups of green tea in one serving and contains 70 times the antioxidants of orange juice. Talk about a health boost.    

FroYo Berry toppingsFroYo Berry toppings

What makes it different?

Alongside the crazy weight loss drink, FroYo Berry stood out for its collection of low calorie Neuro drinks. Neuro Sport provides fast rehydration, Neuro Sonic improves mental performance, Neuro Sun is packed with vitamin D, and Neuro Bliss is meant to promote relaxation. Everything your average superhuman needs to keep on top of things.

FroYo Berry (86 Cross Street, Manchester, M2 4LA) Website: www.froyoberry.com, Twitter: @froyoberry

And Finally, Coming Soon...

THE FRUIT EXCHANGE

Opening soon, this latest addition further proves that the frozen yoghurt phenomenon still has legs. Found on Deansgate, it looks like it’ll be selling… you guessed it, frozen yoghurts and smoothies. Just like its competitors, it’s going to need its own unique selling point, but my sceptical self can’t help but wonder if everything’s already been done. I guess only time will tell...

The Fruit Exchange (103 Deansgate, Manchester) Twitter: @thefruitxchange

Coming soon... The Fruit ExchangeComing soon... The Fruit Exchange

Manchester Frozen Yoghurt Phenomenon Verdict:

After taste testing what felt like gallons of frozen yoghurt-y goodness I have to admit I never got sick of the stuff. And miraculously, each fro yo bar really did have something unique to bring to the table.

So does Manchester really need that much frozen yoghurt? Probably not, but we all know we’d miss it if it wasn’t there.

Follow Kathryn on Twitter @kittywooders

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15 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

MoFo-FroYoAugust 10th 2012.

Good article because I thought this was just a USA fad, but it's converted me to want to try some! Never knew there were so many places in Manc to get the stuff.

Sorry to be pedantic...

"American Star Chipmunk"? Nope, British.

And "neuro Sport provides fast dehydration" Now that's a usp! REhydration I hope??

EditorialAugust 10th 2012.

Thanks MOFO-FROYO. We almost vommed into our fro yos at the sight of those glaring errors. Now fixed :-)

1 Response: Reply To This...
MoFo-FroYoAugust 10th 2012.

:)

Pints in the sunshine at lunch provide fast dehydration. I'm sure i;m not the only one who wants to bunk off this afternoon and carry on boozin.

SmittyAugust 10th 2012.

Frurt is lovely! I remember being amazed by frozen yoghurt when I went to the US in 1994 (I was a mere child, of course).

Melissa KayeAugust 11th 2012.

I love Frozen Yoghurt and have tried many frozen yoghurt bars. Have to say i would have loved your job!

Frurt stands out for me - you state its low in Fat but actually its Fat Free. There Dairy Yoghurt is really nice and Creamy.
Their Soya one is a refreshing take on Sorbet but with many health benefits and not a lot of Sugar. They also make customer requests which to me makes it a more personal USP!

Yofro was too sweet for me. Although it was Fat free it lacked what other frozen yoghurt bars had. It had way too much sugar for me. Their portions were also very small.

I have tried many in London and America and each Frozen Yoghurt bar is too it's own. Although ideas and branding looks copied in alot of places.

I still have to try FroyoBerry & Fruit Exchange so can not comment. Let's see if they will stand out from the rest?

AnonymousAugust 11th 2012.

When can we get a Pinkberry?!?

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousAugust 21st 2012.

When someone opens a franchise. They've got a few down south, but I'm with you on the Pinkberry, no one else comes close to that level of awesomeness.

Matthew MeadowsAugust 12th 2012.

Frurt is my favourite!

CaraAugust 12th 2012.

Isn't there a frozen yogurt place in Withington?
Also, pinkberry is king. Closely followed by Yogland in London. Not fat free but got to love self serve. Especially when it's peanut butter flavour.

Katie LawAugust 12th 2012.

frurt is my fav too! constantly changing flavours and lovely staff:)

AnonymousAugust 14th 2012.

Looks like the staff from Frurt have been on!

1 Response: Reply To This...
tattygirlSeptember 12th 2012.

Actually nope. I work at Frurt and none of the above comments come from staff members.

Thanks every one!! New winter toppings coming soon.......

Laura KettleAugust 14th 2012.

I had a strawberry soya from Frurt and it was delicious however having just been to FroYoBerry and it being sat on my desk (fat free strawberry flavour) as I type, I have to say it is just as nice, if not better as slightly cheaper for a larger portion! Bit of a frozen yoghurt covert now!

AnonymousMay 14th 2013.

Frurt give you a large pot with a small portion inside. Rip off

AnonymousJuly 22nd 2013.

Such small portions for the amount you pay, £5 for a large pot with two toppings.. you could buy 4 pots of yoghurt for that. In Spain they have Llaollao frozen yoghurt bars everywhere (llaollao.es) and the portions are huge with a minimum of 3 toppings on the medium and large for a fraction of the price. If the people want to bring these business ideas home to the UK then it's about time they lived up the portion sizes and stop being so stingy. There is nothing exciting about a £5 pot of yoghurt that's no bigger than a small supermarket pot with a few crumbs and fruit in. Come on guys, tower it up and then people will say how awesome it is.

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