Saturday, January 17, 2009

Red Mango vs. Pinkberry: another showdown

I've mentioned the plethora of froyo places that have popped up over the past two years. We've got the 'original,' Pinkberry, and then a whole bunch of local places including but not limited to Berryline (Boston), Mr. Yogato (Washington, DC - the owners are friends of Berryline and my friend Caroline worked there), and redcherry (Minneapolis - though it's part of a chain, it's still localized).

I've only mentioned Red Mango (um obvskis, they have a myspace page like woah. Also, note how redcherry looks like a ripoff of Red Mango) once, I believe, but it's the nearest competitor to Berryline. It started up in South Korea (in fact, the photo above was taken in South Korea last summer, more photos from that trip will be in a later post). Its North American head is a former investment banker who believes in the nutritional power of froyo. In any case, they face the same consumers, and this time in the Bay Area:

The giants of the tart "fro-yo" craze — Pinkberry and Red Mango — are opening across the street from each other at Santana Row and Valley Fair, the first stores in San Jose and among the first outside the Los Angeles and New York markets.

Having been to both malls, I can see that both stores might be trying to split the demographic. Santana Row is the "classy outdoor mall" with designer stores, while Valley Fair is your typical mall. But...Valley Fair's Red Mango owner is Yul Kwon, winner of Survivor. WIN. I say it again: FTW!111!1eleventy!

Other than that, two facts that I thought were pretty cool:

...the dairy delight, a 2.0 version of the soft-serve type of frozen yogurt introduced in the 1980s...

The article just had to mention 2.0 in a Silicon Valley local article, didn't it?

Also, I didn't realize that soft-serve froyo began in the 80s, though now that I think about it, it makes sense. Weird neon-colored flavors (cotton candy, I'm looking atcha) sputtering out of a soft serve machine? Also, Yumi Yogurt (San Mateo) has definitely got that kitschy decor goin' on (although my friend Jon, who lives there, commiserates with me on this) - but it is a lot cheaper than 2.0 yogurt.

Each company has Korean roots: Red Mango originated in South Korea but has a separate, American branch headed by Kim and based in Southern California. Pinkberry was founded in L.A. by two Korean-Americans, Shelly Hwang and Young Lee.

Froyo is an American thing - since Korean-American is American as well - but not necessarily the way we think about it. Awesome. Also, the yogurt thing makes sense, because during my childhood, I was one of many Asian kids to drink liquid yogurt (different from yogurt smoothies sold in American grocery stores, much thinner and non-fruit-specific-flavor: an actual drink).

The article also has a table for a side-by-side comparison, so I say definitely a showdown.


test said...

Interestingly, I remember the "fro yo" craze from 1994 or so in San Diego... the most popular chain was Heidi's Yozen Frogurt. Everything old is new again!

Anonymous said...

tcby has been around for decades