(Fro)Yo, Check This Out!
Frozen yogurt may emerge from the confectionary scrap heap after all
By Patrick Graham
In the spring of 1987, I decided to dip my toe into the foodservice pool with a position with “The Country’s Best Yogurt”. At that time, southwestern Ohio was getting swept up in the fervor of a new confection masquerading as a healthy alternative to ice cream—frozen yogurt. Determined to avoid a summer job’s environmental perils, I decided to become a yogurt jockey. A barista I was not, as working at TCBY had about as much hipster appeal as Mark Ratner’s cinema position in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, save for the possibility of wearing a tuxedo every night. Frozen yogurt was hot for a little while in the ‘80s, but like stand-up video games, the phenomenon faded.
But what happened to video games may happen to frozen yogurt. Video games were never bad, they just needed a little retooling, and their popularity surged. Frozen yogurt just fell out of favor for a long time, but it could be experiencing a renaissance. Enter Sweet CeCe’s, a Nashville-based group that is asking if froyo can have another shot at the big-time.
Regional Manager Ken Calabro left New York City and the Manhattan culinary scene to try his hand at something completely different from running the line at a well-known steakhouse. Sweet CeCe’s allows its patrons not only to select their favorite yogurts and toppings, but to create their own bowls of delight with their own hands (the concoctions are weighed by the ounce).
“The product is so much better nowadays, [it’s] pretty much indistinguishable from high-end soft-serve ice cream,” raves Calabro. “It’s presented in a different way, and it’s a lot more fun. I like to describe it as creating your own sundae…it’s more interactive.”
The reason why it’s so hands-on is because of the wealth of toppings that can be experienced. The “silos” are filled to the top with everything from the old-hat crushed Oreos and M&Ms to Cap’n Crunch (hello, with Crunchberries!) to Golden Grahams and gumballs. By creating it themselves, patrons can take ownership of their dessert in a way few other establishments can. The freshness and consistency of the toppings even earned the store a rating of kosher by Rabbi Moshe Davis of Charleston’s Brith Sholom Beth Israel synagogue.
And then there’s this: froyo has shown marked improvement in the formulation of fat-free flavors. We all remember our own dealings with fat-free anything. Fat-free yogurt incarnations were pretty lame, as all but the most discriminating calorie counters used to turn up their nose at such feeble attempts of zero-fat offerings. As a former aficionado of all things froyo, I can tell you that the turnaround has been nothing short of miraculous. Of particular interest that day were the flavors of South Market Strawberry and Colonial Cheesecake, both with no sugar added.
The fact that Sweet CeCe’s is found in Charleston’s bustling Market Street area is no accident, not just because of the tourist traffic, but also because foodies have found that the upper-echelon ingredients and their prerequisite freshness mean a product of a much better quality.
“What the foodies love is that…they can easily recognize that we have a fresh product…they can come in here, they can make it themselves and customize it down to the sprinkles,” beamed Calabro.
If nothing else, remember this: it just flat tastes better.
Sweet CeCe's Frozen Yogurt & Treats
99 South Market Street, Downtown Charleston