By now you likely know about the latest trend in cold confections: pay-by-the-weight self-serve frozen yogurt. If the last time you went out for froyo was at a TCBY circa 1988, it’s time you venture to one of a handful of Des Moines-area shops that generally have a fruit in their name: CherryBerry, Lemon Tree, Orange Leaf, or Menchie’s.
What’s that? You’ve never heard of the rare Israeli menchie fruit? Kidding aside, all you really need to remember is Menchie’s. While the others all follow the sevenish-year-old coastal trend of coming up with a fruity name, setting out ulta-mod furnishings, serving up about a dozen wild yogurt flavors and even more toppings, CherryOrangeLemonShop, or whatever they want to call themselves is missing something: Menchie’s.
Now some of you may have already found your non-Menchie’s favorite, and that’s ok. The others out there are not bad. They are just not as good. Menchie’s flavors tend to be richer, more creative, and leave no sour aftertaste. Some of my favorites have been roasted pistachio, sweet Georgia peach, green apple tart, and pecan praline. The topping selection, which is half the fun, always seems a bit stronger at Menchie’s. Most of these stores carry a wide variety of fresh fruit, nuts, candies, and sauces, but as of my most recent visits, only Menchie’s carried peanut butter sauce. Trust me on this one – you’ve got to try it.
So what’s with the name Menchie’s? Is it really Jewish? Word on the street is that while the local franchisees are not Jewish, they get this question on occasion. All of the yogurts are certified kosher and are even labeled “Chai (in Hebrew), I’m kosher!” The name for the store, according to the San Diego Jewish Journal, came from a nickname co-founder Adam Caldwell gave his wife Danna—the other co-founder—while they were dating. She corrected him on his Yiddish usage—a girl can’t exactly be a mench—but the name stuck. Even their executives have some pretty Israeli sounding names: Yotam Regev, Amit Kleinberger, and Elie Balas! But really, is that what you care about when you are out for yogurt? You should care about the taste and the experience. A+ on both of those fronts.
Here are five tips for your first—or 100th—visit:
- The cups are HUGE; you don’t need to fill them up.
- Gummy bears and gummy worms freeze into hard nuggets. Maybe that’s Jewish karma as these are two of the only non-kosher items in the store (if you view gelatin as treif).
- As tempting as it may seem, don’t mix every flavor in your cup. Get a second serving or come back again if you really can’t narrow it down to two or three.
- Do you really need that heavy banana slice? You are charged by the weight, so try the much lighter raspberries instead.
- Remember to sample the flavors before you go big—that’s what the mini-cups are there for!
And finally… Menchie’s has the best spoons of all the yogurt shops. They’re shaped like kid’s characters—which clearly adds to one’s yogurt enjoyment. You can collect them all, but I suggest enjoying your dessert with the new puppy dog spoon, which has an uncanny resemblance to the cutest puggle in the whole world, Wilbur.
That last paragraph was the first of potentially many collaborations with my wife Lil. She clearly has a knack for this writing stuff.