If you are a woman of a certain age..actually if you are a woman, period, there is a certain reaction you are expected to have when someone mentions the word Pinkberry. It goes something like:”Omigod, I luuuuuv Pinkberry” with the final syllables trailing off into an orgasmic mini-squeal. Basically, you should act like you just spotted a pink-cheeked baby in an Easter suit walking a fluffy golden retriever puppy while consuming a coyly decorated red velvet cupcake. Or something like that. Although I walked by several Pinkberries the last time I visited NYC in March, it was too chilly really to eat something frozen in a little cup. But today was perfect, sunny and hot. So I took a drive down Colorado Blvd. to Denver’s first Pinkberry store, which just opened.
My reaction will not include high-pitched noises.
First, the weather and the time of year (no school) combined to create a line, something we just don’t *do* in Denver. I mean we barely do reservations; things are just not that crowded here and if they are you are probably doing something like getting your drivers’ license renewed. In this line were about 20 women and girls (mostly girls) all of whom had apparently succumbed to the indecisiveness that descends upon so many members of the female species when faced with a Big Bad Dessert. (Should I eat it? No way it’ll make me fat. I mean yes. Okay! I mean she’s having one. And it’s yogurt, right, it’s healthy. But should I really be ordering the large? Maybe I should just skip it..) Combine this with the kids working there, who had obviously been instructed to offer everybody a chance to sample each of the five or so flavors of the exotic, new NYC/LA import and you end up with quite a wait. During this wait, you get an opportunity to listen to music that sounds like it should be playing at a high school drill team practice. And absolutely nobody was sitting in the chairs inside the store, which looked like molded plastic versions of the horsehair chair my grandmother made us sit on when we misbehaved as kids.
Finally it was my turn. After waiting so long, I was peevish. So yeah, I did a taste test too, Cherry Creek High School class of ’10 behind me be damned. I tried pomegranate and coconut. It was absolutely fine. Familiar, in fact. Actually, it tasted very similar to TCBY. And Dairy Queen. And Tasti De-lite. I did detect a tinge of the trademark “tart”ness. But it was very slight. Mostly I tasted fake sweetener. The coconut–which I ended up ordering in the cleverly-named “mini” size (“I mean it doesn’t even COUNT as a dessert–I only had a mini!”) tasted like just about every frozen coconut product I have eaten in my life, from 1980s-style FrozFruits to cruise ship Daiquiris..i.e. It tasted like suntan lotion smells.
Which is fine. I love suntan lotion. In any case, I suspect the real draw is the large selection of toppings you can use to pimp your berry. (“I mean the cheesecake topping doesn’t really count as, like, cheese cake if you, like, eat it on a yogurt, right? Because yogurt is healthy. I’ll take a mini.”) I ordered mango, which was so fresh and delicious I longed to trade the entire yogurt for an entire “mini” of the fruit. Still, after working across the street from a TCBY where I ate at least two meals a day one very hot summer in Florida, I do have to wonder how great that fresh kiwi and wide assortment of breakfast cereals will taste in a year or so when the Pinkberry novelty wears off, the line dwindles, the weather cools and the pace of sales declines. I imagine it might get a little bruised and/or stale without the constant turnover of days like today.
I’m not saying I wouldn’t return–especially if the day were hot and I happened to be in the neighborhood. But, come on ladies, Pinkberry is nothing new. The name is cute. The savvy marketing and design perk up the place which is more than I can say about Tasti De-lite stores, which cultivate about as much ambiance as a subway platform. But in the end, it is frozen yogurt. It is cold. It is over-priced. ($3.03 for a mini.) And, yes, it is a dessert.