Thursday, January 3, 2008

Ice Cream: the Gateway Drug to...Froyo?

Once upon a time, it was a balmy September week in Boston: orientation time. As the freshmen scurried along from one social event to another, one thing stayed constant: Herrell's. Though distinguished with its rows of "Best of Boston" plaques, the Boston institution was omnipresent:

Back tables of Annenberg? Check.
Dorm social? Check.
Club raffle? Check.
The pile of $1 coupons I got off the street? Check.

As a young, eager freshman, I remember the feeling. It was only a few months ago that my September consisted of Herrell's, Herrell's and more Herrell's (and thankfully not the effects of the freshman fifteen). I must have had Herrell's ice cream an average of six times per week. After the first day of orientation, I knew that in Herrell's flavor-speak, malted chocolate really meant "haute Ovaltine" and oh! that chocolate pudding flavor was to swoon for. Not to mention the thick, almost chewy-caramel texture of the ice cream...and the fact that their peppermint flavor looked natural (that is, it sure wasn't green like what I had been used to). I unabashedly pronounced Herrell's the best ice cream in Boston - nay, the world.

Well, that opinion hasn't flip-flopped yet...but my consumption has.


In mid-September, I received an invite (through Facebook) to try out Berryline. A new frozen yogurt store that had recently opened, it looked like a Pinkberry knockoff to me.

I wasn't impressed. After all, my first time trying "legit" froyo was at Yo!Berry. Which was refreshing, but sour and "healthy-tasting" enough for me to imagine that active cultures were gnawing my way through my intestine. And this place had even incorporated the "berry" into their name, again. In any case, I halfheartedly emailed my sister (a Yo!Berry fanatic), and she decided to try it.

She ended up hooked.

And...well, me too. The colorful paintings lining the walls made the place feel like the hip Harvard version of the Digital Bean, in which I once envisioned spending my peppy, Disney-saturated adolescence. (The Digital Bean is to Lizzie McGuire as Central Perk was to Friends.) Thanks to the 125-calorie-for-five-ounces small serving and the "buy ten, get one free deal, " I reasoned that I was probably losing calories and getting a free froyo on the ten-minute walk over.

Let's not forget the yogurt, too: the crust was icy, but the interior was so creamy that it almost felt like ice cream. But not typical ice cream goodness: flavors I sampled over the semester included mango (my personal favorite), green tea, acai (the new, trendy berry), blueberry and pomegranate. Sweet and healthy.

Later towards the holiday season, they handed out their first non-fruit flavor besides original vanilla: peppermint. (In fact, upon discovering this, I jumped up and down and screamed "peppermint!" My roommate hasn't stopped telling this little anecdote.) And yet the draw for many of my friends was the fresh fruit: after fighting each other for the remaining grapes at Annenberg, they suddenly found that they could get mango, raspberries or even blackberries on top of their froyo - in December.

So it's suddenly easy to understand the addiction: all the 10 pm rendezvouses, study breaks and roomie trips you can imagine (that's right, at one point pulling in at five times a week). And with their promise of free Wi-fi access, I suddenly had an excuse to go by myself. (Even if I didn't bring anything except my wallet, which at this point was being used exclusively for Berryline expenses. By the way, thanks to Peer Advising Fellow - PAF - John, who funded one random trip when he saw my roommate and I there on a Thursday night.)

In essence, I started - to put it bluntly - stalking Berryline, finding out what their flavors were and memorizing store hours. I wasn't the only one: the owners (post-docs at Harvard and MIT) and the store got press, press, press. (The story of how Berryline happened to be is feel-good. I daresay the froyo's better.) When I headed to Berryline at night, there'd be a line stretching outside the door. In one case, a 10:30 pm Friday craving with my roommate put me behind a inebriated girl who needed two extra larges to satisfy her and a couple friends' own cravings.

And now I have a purpose for my Secret Santa gift certificates, because of this week's specialty flavors. Despite being at home, I immediately sent out an email to a few dormmates:

"Um, could we schedule a Berryline run sometime this weekend? Current flavors are original, raspberry and choco cookies 'n cream..."

The result: immediate responses within an hour.

"How do you know that?? Is there a website or something? and YES i NEED
raspberry!!!! HURRY AND COME HOME!!!!!!!!!!!"


"I would really, really, like to experience the RASPBERRY flavor..."

You said it.


I don't mean to say that Berryline has converted me into anti-ice cream...or anti-Herrell's. But in Ec10, we learned that frozen yogurt and ice cream are essentially substitutes for one another. It's hard for me to say goodbye to Herrell's, so I won't. (In a case of dairy polygamy, I might get some pumpkin cheesecake ice cream when I return. It's hard to say though; I didn't check their flavors like I did with Berryline.) But the raspberry froyo beckons me: hello, hello again, Berryline!

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