11 Cool Facts About Frozen Yogurt

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iStock

When frozen yogurt hit the commercial food scene in the U.S. in the late '70s and subsequently boomed in the early 1980s, it was a huge hit with health-conscious, workout-obsessed Americans who were thrilled to have a lower-fat alternative to ice cream. Even though its popularity chilled out in the '90s and aughts, frozen yogurt has returned on the scene en masse in the last few years in the form of the soft-serve shop with an extensive toppings bar. But however you enjoy your froyo, you’ll be sure to enjoy these cool facts about it almost as much.

1. IT DOESN’T JUST COME FROM COWS.

Like regular yogurt, cow’s milk isn’t the only milk that is used to make frozen yogurt. The milk of sheep, goats, and water buffalo are sometimes used in the froyo process in the U.S., while camel and yak varieties are available in the Middle East and Western China, respectively.

2. IT’S FAIRLY NEW IN TOWN.

Yogurt itself has been around for ages, with origins in the Middle East and India about 5000 years ago, but the idea to freeze it, at least as far as we know, came about fairly recently: The first commercial brand, Frogurt, was introduced in New England in the early 1970s, and was served in scoops, in the style of ice cream.

3. IT DIDN’T TAKE LONG FOR MANUFACTURERS TO FOLLOW THE POPSICLE MODEL.

Yogurt giant Dannon was among the first to jump on the blossoming trend, with its 1979 release of “Danny,” a packaged, fruit-flavored frozen yogurt pop on a stick with a chocolate coating. Dannon's pop became the first perishable frozen treat to be distributed nationwide.

4. TCBY HELPED REPLACE THE SCOOPS WITH SOFT-SERVE.

In 1981, Arkansas’s TCBY changed the yogurt game when it began offering yogurt in soft-serve format, dispensed by a machine at the point of sale. When TCBY started out, the acronym stood for “This Can’t Be Yogurt,” but a 1984 lawsuit by competitor I Can’t Believe It’s Yogurt inspired the company to create a back-ronym, so now it stands for “The Country’s Best Yogurt.” And they're still making froyo innovations, like being the first to offer Greek frozen yogurt, dairy-free, and vegan options.

5. DON’T CALL IT A COMEBACK. (IT'S BEEN HERE FOR YEARS.)

It’s true that frozen yogurt experienced a lull in popularity for a couple of decades, but it has surged right back, and then some! In 2012, sales of frozen yogurt were $194.9 million, with 121 million servings of frozen yogurt sold—totally decimating its peak sales of $25 million in 1986. (Adjusting for inflation, $25 million would be about $54.3 million in 2016 dollars, so it has more than tripled its earnings today when compared to 30 years ago.)

6. IT HAS BEEN HONORED WITH ITS OWN MONTH-LONG CELEBRATION.

As of 1993, June is National Frozen Yogurt Month in the United States (in close pursuit of its obvious natural rival, National Ice Cream Month, which happens in July). It also has the more specific National Frozen Yogurt Day on February 6 (not during a month many of us crave frozen treats, weirdly). Many yogurt shops celebrate the day, as well as the month, with free froyo and discounts.

7. THE COMPETITION IN THE FROZEN YOGURT MARKET IS STIFF.

Although TCBY ruled the froyo roost for decades, it’s no longer number one, despite recent attempts to rebrand itself with new décor and updated self-serve machines. As of 2015, the front-runner is California-based Menchie’s, with 13.5 percent of the market and 300 U.S. locations—which is no mean feat, considering it was only established in 2010. TCBY trails with 10.8 percent of the market and 518 locations, and then Yogurtland, sweetFrog, and Red Mango round out the top five.

8. YOU COULD BUY IT DRY.

Originally, frozen yogurt was made using—unsurprisingly—real yogurt as a base. But these days, it can begin in powder form, which is then mixed with water or some other liquid and poured into a soft-serve machine.

9. IT’S NOT NECESSARILY MADE OF YOGURT.

Although yogurt, when unfrozen, is regulated by the FDA and requires a Live and Active Cultures seal, frozen yogurt is not, and it legally may or may not contain live cultures, so you may want to check your labels.

10. IT HAS POWERFUL ALLIES.

Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan clearly can’t resist froyo—she was responsible for the installation of the first frozen-yogurt machine in the Supreme Court cafeteria. As such, Kagan joked that she’ll be remembered as the “frozen yogurt justice” in the annals of history. Not that that’s a bad thing, Your Honor.

11. IT REACHED NAMESAKE STATUS.

And it’s not just Justice Kagan who has a soft spot for the soft-serve. Continuing its adorable theme of naming each version of the Android OS after a dessert, Google’s Android 2.2 release, unveiled in 2010, was codenamed “Froyo.” How sweet.

All images via iStock.

The Disputed Origins of Publix’s Chicken Tender Subs

Josh Hallett, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0
Josh Hallett, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

After Popeyes released its new chicken sandwich last week, a heated battle broke out on Twitter over which fast food chain offers the best one. Favorites included Chick-fil-A, Wendy’s, and KFC, but the Publix chicken tender sub was mostly absent from the dialogue. Maybe it’s because Publix is a supermarket rather than a fast food restaurant, or maybe the southern chain is too specific to Florida and its neighboring states to warrant a national ranking.

Either way, the chicken tender sub is a cult culinary classic among Publix customers—there’s even an independently run website devoted to announcing when the subs are on sale (they aren’t right now), and affiliated Facebook and Twitter accounts with tens of thousands of followers. So whom do sub devotees have to thank for inventing the Publix food mashup from heaven? A Facebook user named Dave Charls says, “Me!,” but Publix begs to differ.

The Tampa Bay Times reported that in May of this year, a man named Dave Charls posted a message on the “Are Publix Chicken Tender Subs On Sale?” Facebook page recounting his origin story for the menu item, which allegedly took place in 1997 or 1998. At Charls explains it, he and his co-worker Kevin convinced their friend Philip, a deli worker at the Fleming Island Publix location, to assemble a sub with chicken tenders and ring it up as one item—something that deli workers had refused to do for Dave and Kevin in the past. According to Dave, Philip then convinced his manager to make it a special, publicized it via chalkboard sign, and the idea spread like hot sauce.

“You’re welcome,” Charls said. “It was actually Kevin’s idea and Philip brought it to life.”

Publix, however, told the Tampa Bay Times that its recorded documentation for a chicken tender sub recipe and procedure goes all the way back to 1992 or 1993. Based on that information, Publix spokesperson Brian West confirmed that Charls's heroic account of the origin is more fairytale than fact (though West, unfortunately, doesn’t have an equally thrilling origin story—or any story at all—with which to replace it).

Charls didn’t respond to a request from the Tampa Bay Times for comment, so we may never know how much of his claim is actually true. It’s possible, of course, that Publix’s 1992 (or 1993) chicken tender sub recipe hadn’t gained momentum by the time Kevin’s moment of culinary genius struck in 1997 (or 1998), and the lack of date specificity suggests that neither party knows exactly how it went down. What is incontrovertible, however, is the deliciousness of Publix's beloved sub sandwich.

"I'm just happy to live in the same timeline as this beautiful sandwich," says die-hard Pub Sub fan (and Mental Floss video producer/editor) Justin Dodd. “Copyright claims aside, it's truly a wonderful thing."

This London Pub Might Be the Most Ethical Bar in the World

Ridofranz/Getty Images
Ridofranz/Getty Images

Pub owner Randy Rampersad is doing his part for sustainability. In June, he opened the Green Vic—a play on the fictional Queen Vic pub in the soap opera EastEnders—in the East London neighborhood of Shoreditch. The Telegraph reports it’s aiming to be the world’s most ethical pub: Rampersad eschews plastic and paper straws and opts for gluten-free wheat “straws.” He sources the bar's 100 percent recycled toilet paper from green-minded company Who Gives a Crap, and the communal wooden tables are upcycled.

“I wanted to make the world a better place and run my own business, but I was waiting for that eureka moment,” Rampersad told The Telegraph. He discovered no one had done anything like this before.

There’s no meat on the menu—the food is totally vegan, healthy-ish pub grub. You can add CBD oil to the “chkn" bites appetizer, and the burgers are made from ingredients like soy, seaweed, and sweet potato. The beers are produced by ethical brewers, too: Toast Ale uses unsold loaves and crusts of bread; Good Things Brewing crafts its beer from 100 percent renewable energy; South Africa’s Afro Vegan Cider donates money to an organization that funds equal pay for female farmers; and Brewgooder donates to water projects.

In fact, everything the Green Vic does has charity in mind. “We don't care about the money, I’m planet first and profit after,” Rampersad told The Telegraph. Up to 80 percent of its profits will go to charitable causes, including local food banks. As for the staff, one in four are from marginalized groups. The Green Vic plans to operate as a three-month pop-up pub while scouting for longer term investment.

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