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Hawaii goes through different fads as quickly as its weather changes, from sunny to rainy to sunny again. Locals say, “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes,” and it seems trends like pogs and polyester Aloha shirts lasted just as long. But it’s not the least bit surprising for an island where word spreads quickly.
The yogurtmania in Hawaii started with this place, Yogurtland. It now has several locations throughout the island, including Waikiki.
Lately, Hawaii has been frozen yogurt obsessed. Also known as “froyo” or “frogurt,” frozen yogurt arrived here in 2008 and continues to gain popularity as a low-fat alternative that’s sure to satisfy any sweet cravings. Froyo’s made with milk and yogurt. Unlike ice cream, which adds heavy cream – and extra calories – to the mix.
Yogurt entrepreneurs agree that it’s the customers’ involvement in the frozen creation that keeps them coming back for more. Customers start by filling their cups with a variety of flavors offered at the self-serve machines. There’s the classic vanilla and chocolate combo or seasonal ones like gingerbread and pumpkin pie. Top it off with some fruits, cookies and candies, weigh it and pay it by the ounce.
(Top) Step 1: Choose yogurt. (Left): Choose toppings. (Right): Weigh in and pay up.
The cultural phenomenon started in South Korea almost 10 years ago before entering the U.S. market. I was one of those who patiently awaited the grand opening of Hawaii’s very first yogurt joint – none other than, Yogurtland – near the University of Hawai at Manoa. I must have been there more than 50 times since, and can attest to what many others have claimed: It’s not Yogurtland but “Yogurtcrack.” It’s so darn addictive…and don’t even get me started on the chocolate hazelnut and cheesecake combo. Mmm, so good!
The frozen yogurt market has since expanded across the state in a craze that’s here to stay. For some, coffee dates have become froyo dates. A quaint little hang out with an extra sweet vibe that most coffee shops don’t have. See for yourself. Here’s a list of local favorites to check out next time you’re in Hawaii:
1) Yogurtland • Oahu: Honolulu, Waikiki, Hawaii Kai, Pearl City; Neighbor Islands: Big Island, Maui • www.yogurt-land.com
Fresh funky flavors color the pale pink walls of Yogurtland. They’ve become the number one self-serve yogurt brand in America, and the only place in Hawaii with locally-made yogurt. Try root beer float next time it’s in season. The flavor got more than 700,000 “Likes” on Facebook.
2) Tutti Frutti • Oahu: Honolulu; Neighbor Island: Maui • www.tfyogurt.com
More than 50 flavors available and change on the daily. It’s one of the few yogurt joints that have lactose-free options, such as the orange sherbet.
3) Menchie’s • Oahu: Honolulu, Kapolei, Mililani • www.menchies.com
The cute little dude wearing a yogurt swirl hat welcomes all kinds of froyo fanatics. Don’t only fill up your cups but a limited-time collector’s card as well. Get an actual collector’s stamp with every yogurt purchase and complete the card by matching stamps with the correct characters.
4) Orange Grove • Kailua, Kaneohe, Waianae, Waipahu; Neighbor Island: Kauai • www.orangi-yo.com
The Kaneohe location has got a sort of chic vibe, with cute paisley chairs and tables on which to enjoy yogurt or freshly-baked macaroons. Orange Grove in Hawaii was one of the first places here to offer the popular flavored mochi ball toppings.
5) Yogurt Mama • Kailua • www.yogurtmama.com
“Yogurt Mama loves Obama” is what always comes to mind when I think of this place. The little Kailua shop put this sign on its window when President Barack Obama was in town for the holidays last year. Catchy, but I don’t think it was enough to draw the Prez to this yogurt haven just yet…maybe next Christmas?