An interesting little ditty came
back to mind the other day,
one I used to often repeat as a kid: "You
scream, I scream, we all scream for ice cream!"
No clue where it came from;
not sure why, really. I do know that my
whole family loved ice cream -- especially my father -- and, as a
kid, we used to make a trip every Sunday to an ice cream parlor for
our weekly treat. By the way, I still love ice cream and eat a
portion at almost every opportunity I get. Perhaps though, the
memory was invoked just prior to a conversation I had recently with
the owner of a new business venture in St. Charles. It will be
an iteration of "Forever Yogurt" (frozen yogurt) and
will take up residence on the southeast corner of Main Street (Route
64) and South Second Street (Route 31) in Saint Charles.
Curious about the
new store and at the same time interested to see just what motivated
him, I called David Brown, lifetime resident of St. Charles, owner
and franchisee of the new venture and asked if I could get a few
minutes of his time to ask a few questions. He graciously
consented, and the several-hour conversation left me anxiously
anticipating the opening and wanting to try some of the frozen
treat. But I am getting way ahead of myself...
A bit of
background information might be of assistance here. OK... so,
although the actual origins of the product are unknown, people have
been both making -- and eating, obviously -- yogurt for a very
long time. It is, according to information provided by Mr.
Brown from Forever Yogurt:
culturing dairy ingredients with the bacterial cultures
Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus...
in a... perfect environment for the bacteria to grow."
"The manufacturer also adds additional cultures such as Lactobacillus
lactis and Bifidobacterium when making yogurt. We never
heat treat yogurt after it is made. Heating would kill the
cultures and you would lose the potential benefits."
it is made is probably a description for another article and likely
not what is of interest to most who will eat the frozen variety.
However, according to Wikipedia:
nutritionally rich in protein, calcium, riboflavin, vitamin B6
and vitamin B12. It has nutritional benefits beyond those
of milk. Lactose-intolerant individuals can sometimes tolerate
yogurt better than other dairy products..."
And therein lies
so much of the good news. Suffice it to say that yogurt is a
healthful and tasty dairy product that, even in its low-fat version,
is also very good for you, for a number of reasons; in
a time where diet is of great concern, yogurt is a wonderful
simplest of several spellings) has had several go-rounds in America,
going all the way back to the '50s and '60s. For the
frozen variety -- according to a frozen yogurt industry report --
the first wave of frozen yogurt fandom was actually in the 1980s.
But frozen yogurt now seems to be enjoying a renewed surge in
popularity; a concept now referred to as FroYo, "The Freeze" is
really beginning to take hold across the country. I did a very
rough count and found almost a dozen different frozen yogurt
franchise names totaling over 600 stores (at least) in the United
States alone. With numerous corporate franchise names,
the Chicago area seems to be no stranger to the frozen fad, and the
FroYo wars for turf and fans are heating up as we speak.
People have been making yogurt for
over 4000 years. The frozen variety though,
has recently exploded onto the food industry scene because of
the known health benefits and delectable taste; years
of studies have established the benefits of yogurt in the digestion
of milk proteins, lactose intolerance and calcium supplementation.
More recent health studies have also
determined that yogurt produces a gastrointestinal bacteria that may
protect against cancers of the colon and breast. All
of Forever Yogurt's frozen
yogurt varieties are gluten-free, non-fat or low fat and contain
active, live cultures.
Getting back to
David Brown, his decision to start a Forever Yogurt franchise in St.
Charles seemed almost -- at least to hear him talk about it -- a
sort of revelation. He and his wife Lisa were in Boulder,
Colorado where their twin daughters were enrolled as college
freshman. After dinner one night, the twins said there was a
great place they wanted to go for dessert. Destination?
A small storefront in a strip mall. The line was literally out
the door and a half-block long at a FroYo shop
(needless to say, Boulder residents love the product!). David
said he was surprised to see that the line actually moved fairly
quickly. The "gimmick" was the fact that one could serve one's
self, loading a cup with as much of the frozen treat -- and as much
of the available toppings -- as desired; it was all self-serve and
the resulting cost was a simple calculation based on a
price by weight for the sweet and delectable goodness.
It wasn't just the
tangy and delicious flavor, though (there are actually close to 100
different flavors that can be combined with over 60 possible
toppings), or the product concept of self-serve frozen yogurt that
got Brown's attention; it was the format that he found interesting.
And "When we learned that there was a new Chicago-based
self-serve frozen yogurt franchise (Forever Yogurt), we were intrigued."
Even though the Browns originally had no plans to open or run a
franchise, after visiting several stores (lines in Chicago stores
were always out the door, too) they became enamored of the product
and its quality. The fact that Forever Yogurt was a
Chicago-based company also factored into their decision. "... our curiosity ultimately turned into
enthusiasm, and St. Charles seemed to be the perfect fit for the
concept and a great addition to the downtown area."
The rest will be
determined come mid-April, when the Brown's St. Charles
Forever Yogurt franchise is scheduled to open. Their
store will definitely have its own unique character and identity; no
two Forever Yogurt locations are identical.
According to David, "we will rotate through up to 70 different
froyo flavors, offering 16 at time along with over 50 toppings."
Other than that, David said that he and Lisa are taking things one
step at a time, "wanting to make certain that the new St. Charles
store is a success in every possible way and that additionally it
will provide a great place for young people to work and have
positive life experiences while learning important life skills."
Forever Yogurt store was founded in the Wicker Park
neighborhood of Chicago in 2010, and the City boasts over
half-a-dozen stores, each with its own look and personality.
(By the way, Forever Yogurt is now listed in the top
five of Chicago's best frozen yogurt.) The number of locations
is growing quickly and the brand is spreading outward to the
suburbs, as well as to numerous other states. David and Lisa
Brown will soon have something new in St. Charles that no one else
in the local area has, and they're betting that their own
Forever Yogurt store will garner success and a huge fan
base. I'm still a pretty big ice cream-aholic...
But I gotta tell you, after sampling the product, I'm betting the
Browns are right. and I may soon be chanting: "you scream, I
scream, we all scream for... Forever Yogurt!"