As a kid, I clearly remember going to TCBY (The Country's Best Yogurt) for a soft-serve treat. It was pretty simple: Tell the person at the counter what size and which one (or two) of the half-dozen or so flavors you want, and that was that. It was basically a classier version of the Wendy's Frosty (which I love, by the way).
When I was in college, I recall there being a TCBY on campus. And while that shop had an expanded menu offering hand-dipped varieties and other specialties, it was wildly unpopular. There was never a soul there, and I just figured that frozen yogurt had run its course.
But just when we thought soft-serve froyo was a thing of the past, it's back with a cool new style. Self-serve, soft-serve frozen yogurt shops have been popping up all over Central PA faster than you can say "Instagram." These colorful and modern venues are more what I would consider froyo boutiques, and they're a dream for kids as well as us big kids. For the record, I noticed that even TCBY jumped on the self-serve bandwagon a few years ago to fit in with these shops.
Here's how it works: Walk in the store. Get charmed by the vibrant colors, both in the decor and in the toppings. Grab a paper cup. Ponder the dozen or so flavors of frozen yogurt. (This is difficult, given varieties such as cake batter, sea salt caramel pretzel, pumpkin pie and dulce de leche. Need I say more?) Help yourself to as many flavors as you like. Then take a trip down the toppings bar — with anything you can imagine, from fresh fruit to gummy bears and cookie dough. (This is where I learned about popping boba, the little pearls that burst with fruity liquid in your mouth.) Lastly, place your cup on the scale at the register and the cashier will tell you what you owe. For those gluttonous types, beware, as your dessert might turn out to be a lot more expensive than you expected.
I've been to several froyo shops in the area, and I must admit that they're all uniquely inviting, no matter their size or color scheme. You have the larger places like Bamboo Frozen Yogurt Cafe, which has a swanky, coffee shop feel with couches and contemporary wood accents. Then you have the smaller, candy shop-esque Kiwi Frozen Yogurt Harrisburg, which is bright white with orange accents.
But one thing is certain: The crowds are flocking for the frosty goodness. Last night, I was at the Kiwi in Harrisburg from around 8:45 to 9:30 p.m. (it closes at 10 p.m.). Even at that time, there was a steady stream of customers, and I was lucky to get a tiny table in the corner. And this is on a weekday when the temperature outside was a bit chilly. You get the picture.
So what are you waiting for? Stop in one of the froyo places below, and let me know what you think. I bet you're gonna like it!
Bamboo Frozen Yogurt Cafe, 5001 Carlisle Pike, Mechanicsburg
Froyos, 6391 Carlisle Pike, Mechanicsburg
SweetFrog Camp Hill, 1104 Carlisle Road, Cedar Cliff Mall, Camp Hill
SweetFrog Carlisle (coming soon), 40 Noble Blvd., Carlisle,
SweetFrog Mechanicsburg, 6416 Carlisle Pike, Suite 1100, Mechanicsburg
Kiwi Frozen Yogurt Harrisburg, 4640 Hight Pointe Blvd., Harrisburg
SweetFrog Hershey, 265 Hershey Road, Hummelstown
Berries Frozen Yogurt, 2347 Oregon Pike, Suite 107, Lancaster
Froze N' Yo Café, 1947 Fruitville Pike, Lancaster
Kiwi Frozen Yogurt Lancaster, 2350 Lincoln Highway E., Lancaster
SweetFrog Lancaster, 1655 Lititz Pike, Suite B, Lancaster
Yofro Sweets, 2405 Covered Bridge Drive, Suite 105, Lancaster
Yogurtworks Cafe, 108 N. Reading Road, Ephrata
Yofresh Yogurt Cafe, 721 Quentin Road, Lebanon
SweetFrog Hanover, 141 Wilson Ave., Hanover
SweetFrog Shrewsbury, 14605-C Mount Airy Road, Shrewsbury
SweetFrog York, 2071 Springwood Road, York
SweetYo, 2960 Whiteford Road, York
Yo Berries Frozen Yogurt, 2195 York Crossing, York