Friday, February 26, 2010

My Pinkberry Experience: An Anecdote on Lust, Gluttony, and Frozen Yogurt

I’ve always hated trends, particularly food trends that are overpriced and tainted by celebrity endorsements, however unofficial in nature. My first trip to Pinkberry was a reluctant one: I worked incessantly last summer, and made a point of spending my free time doing something constructive. Having nothing else to do before the next work day, I agreed to go on an evening stroll with my mother and cousin. As we began our walk, the suggestion of going to Pinkberry arose and I instantly rejected it. In my mind, Pinkberry had become the edible equivalent to Paris Hilton toting a Chihuahua in her purse. And while Paris and I both own a Chihuahua, my reason has more to do with the fact that I'm Hispanic, and Hispanics love Chihuahuas. Furthermore, I didn’t see the purpose of walking over 10 blocks for frozen yogurt when I had a supermarket next door. Truth be told, I hated Pinkberry because of all the “hype” that it had received and wanted no part in it.

My mother and cousin were used to my stubborn nature and blindly calculated judgments for anything mainstream. Naturally, they insisted that we just "give it a try". I had nothing else to do that night, so I reluctantly followed them to the nearest location located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. The moment we stepped inside the store, I was assaulted by a barrage of bright colors, white cloud-like swirls, and expensive looking "space chairs". My first thought was, "What kind of silly gimmick is this?" My second thought, which came immediately after, pertained to the ridiculously long line. Even worse, everyone seemed to be oblivious to this. I heard loud chatter, and even laughter! The patrons were actually enjoying themselves and seemed excited to be revievng their overpriced cups of yogurt. Skeptical but powerless, I waited in line anxious to try this newfangled product that merited such attention.

As it was my turn to reach the counter, a bright-eyed cashier asked me which flavor I would like. Thrown off by the ridiculously long line and the cashier’s seemingly genuine perkiness, I chose coconut with granola, honey and shredded coconut. I liked coconut, and having coconut twice in the same dish didn’t seem redundant to me. Everyone else opted for fresh fruit, but I insisted on keeping fruit separate from my Pinkberry experience. We managed to find an empty table and sat down immediately. As I put the spoon to my lips my first reaction was, "This is it? This is what the hype is about?" It was ice cold, tarty, and not at all sweet, as I expected. "What's the point?", I thought. I wondered why people paid so much money for this miniscule cup of yogurt. Yet by the time my cup was finished, to my bewilderment, I was left longing for more. Thus the cycle begun.

In the weeks that passed, I visited Pinkberry every chance time afforded itself. I would get off the train at certain stops just to get Pinkberry. I would set aside 15 minutes before work to enjoy my daily cup of frozen deliciousness. The addiciton was immediate and unrelenting. If left without my frozen yogurt fix, I would crave it all day. Somehow, I couldn't stop myself from speaking about Pinkberry to my friends, who couldn't understand my obsession. It was as if cupid struck me with his arrow, but instead of falling in love with the first man I saw, I became smitten with frozen yogurt. In the first weeks, I was as loyal as a sick puppy and refused to eat anywhere else but at Pinkberry. However, once I recieved my debit card statement, I decicded to explore thriftier options.
I began to 'shop around', as one would say, and survey less expensive Pinkberry alternatives. While I saved over a dollar a cup on my frozen yogurt by seeking out different places, my expedition quickly went from being a budget concern to a survey of each and every frozen yogurt store I encountered. I wound up frequenting a dozen or more yoogurt shops including the blatant Pinkberry knockoff 'Berrywild', and the fierce Pinkberry competetor 'Red Mango'. Strangely enough, my loyalty to Pinkberry expanded to a wide appreciation of frozen yogurt. While not each frozen yogurt sample was a success, (NEVER, ever try Tasti-D-Lite's fro yo) I felt like a frozen yogurt consesueir and prided myself in my extensive knowledge and experience.
Once I left my job, it became increasingly harder to get to the best yogurt stores. Slowly, I began to lose interest in frozen yogurt like a lover who had passed the infatuation phase of a relatonship. Suddenly and unrelentingly, it was over. Looking back on my obsession, I couldn't stomach the thought of eating another cup of the overpriced stuff! Still, I get the occasional craving, but I've convinced myself that it would be way more practical to go on a Pinkberry spree in the warmer months than in the dead of winter. My appetite is funny that way. It can be piqued, instantly obsessed almost indefintely, then shut off like a light switch.

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