So cupcakes are no longer the hot thing. (Don't worry Muddy's, I'll stay faithful to you). Instead, it has apparently been replaced by frozen yogurt. The rest of the country has known this for a while, as a variety of yogurt places have opened up outside of Memphis, places like Pinkberry, Yogurtland, and Red Mango. Memphis is a bit behind schedule, but just recently, we jumped on the train as YoLo Frozen Yogurt opened in Collierville square. In an effort to conduct a review of this hot new place, and to please our growing blog audience, Neel and I trekked all the way out there to try YoLo out. No worries though, another location in East Memphis is scheduled to open in a few weeks, near the Huey's on poplar. YoLo also has a facebook page, which probably has more info on it than their website does.
The gimmick at YoLo is very similar to Yogurtland: you serve yourself and control how much yogurt and toppings you want. You are then charged based on the total weight of your selection. Basically, you walk in and pick up a generous sized cup. I'm pretty sure you can only get one size. That is part of their strategy to make you buy/spend more. Of course you don't have to fill up the cup, but for most people, it's hard not to. The cup is probably equivalent to a large or extra large at TCBY.
After grabbing your cup, you then proceed along the wall where there are yogurt machines with about 8 flavors of yogurt. You "pour" it yourself. So you determine how much yogurt you want, and you can also mix and match yogurt flavors. Then, you keep walking and there is a huge selection of toppings from all over the map: fresh fruit, cereal, granola, chocolates of all kind, candy of all kinds, etc, etc. Basically, if you can imagine it, they have it. So, you pick which toppings you want and how much of each topping, mixing and matching to your heart's desire. Finally, you get to the cashier, put your cup on the scale, and you are charged appropriately. It is a flat rate, X cents per once. I forgot the exact amount.
Now, in light of this set up, there is a huge strategy element to getting your money's worth. You shouldn't just fill up your cup to the brim with yogurt because you won't have room for toppings. You might want to think about which items weigh less than others. You are charged the same thing for every flavor and every topping. It is all based on total weight and that's important to remember. Now, besides stategy, there is also a time factor because there is a line and who waits to back up the line? Ah, the joys of self-imposed social pressure. (See below, with the humerous facial expressions).
Anyways, when Neel and I went, it was pretty crowded. It seemed everyone was excited about the place because of the concept and because it had just recently opened. The yogurt flavors were Vanilla Bean, Strawberry, Triple Chocolate, Blueberry Tart, Birthday Cake, Pomegranate, and Mango Sorbet. One flavor was out of order. I had already been to Yorgurtland; so I was somewhat prepared for the experience. I got a blend of Strawberry, Pomegranate, and Blueberry Tart. I filled up my cup with too much yogurt but not all the way. Thus, I left room for my toppings: strawberries, blackberries, and gummy bears. Unfortunately, I failed to mention any of my strategy tips to Neel. So she filled up her cup with almost all yogurt --- triple chocolate and vanilla bean --- and had little room left for toppings. But she added what she could, a few chocolate toppings. At the cashier, we rang up a total price around $13. Now that is clearly much more than we would have spent at TCBY, but that is partly our failure to understand the process and to be efficient as possible.
Now, onto the evaluation. I love the concept of YoLo. It's genius on their part because they have invented a way that is guaranteed to get people to spend more on their product. By using one large cup size and then having the customer select their own toppings, they are basically banking on the gluttony of the American consumer. There is no way the average person is going to say no to all those toppings they have laid out there.
Kids are also going to love this place. But this place isn't just for minors and the incompetant. I'm a big fan too because I'm relatively self-disciplined, and I love the fact that now I can mix and match yogurt flavors and choose my topping to yogurt ratio. That is a huge advantage over TCBY.
As for the actual yogurt, YoLo is good but not amazing. It's on par with TCBY but maybe a tad better. I think the big advantage will be the tart flavors. When I went, they had blueberry tart, and it was good. I'm guessing/hoping they are mimicking Yogurtland in this regard and will vary their yogurt flavors on a regular basis and always have a variety of "tart" selections: tart blueberry, tart strawberry, etc. To give you an idea, I would suggest going to the Yogurtland website and checking out the wide variety of flavors they have, including many funky flavors and tart flavors. Of course, this is just my hope; so we will have to wait and see how they execute. But overall, the yogurt quality was good.
Ironically, the draw of this place is not the yogurt per se but the toppings. You can tell all their toppings are very fresh and, as a result, are very good. A special shout out needs to go to their fruit selections. These are not your standard yogurt fruit selections: ie frozen and syrupy. Nope, they actually tasted like fresh fruit, and they had a great variety: blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, kiwi, etc, etc. Moreover, the topping selection is huge. Even bigger than the Yogurtland that I want to. Thus, you are guaranteed to find numerous toppings that you will like. Once this great variety is combined by your unlimited control, you can make your experience different each time, from fruity to sweet to everything in between.
As for price, it's a bit of a mixed bag because it all turns on self control. I'm pretty sure you can get out of there at a reasonable price if you are wise about about much yogurt used and how much toppings, etc. Of course, the whole system is set up to get you to spend more. So, if you just go in there and add stuff uncontrollably, then it's going to be more than most other yogurt/ice cream places. But even then, you are probably getting what you pay for.
Overall, though, YoLo is a great concept and it is executed very well. For that reason, I can heartily endorse the hot new yogurt trend and am excited that it has finally reached Memphis. Thus, we give YoLo 3.5 stars.