Sunday, April 1, 2012

Spring Break: Do You Fro-Yo?

Spring break has never been something for me where I've planned a long trip and I have to pack up and leave the moment finals are done. That is, until this year. I planned well ahead of time to visit my boyfriend in Athens, Georgia where he's going to the University of Georgia for graduate school.

Now, I love my boyfriend - obviously, I spent good money on a plane ticket to see him - but he is as picky as a five year old when it comes to food. He hates vegetables - will only eat corn, potatoes, and some peppers - and absolutely loathes onions with a fiery passion. I knew it would be a difficult trip eating wise, especially after getting so used to eating vegetables all the time by myself. But one of the best things about him is he will try new places to eat - which paid off when we saw Menchie's frozen yogurt.

In Georgetown square, which is the largest shopping center near him, we passed this brightly colored store. Stark white tables made the bright purple and kiwi green pop. It looked inviting with indoor and outdoor seating and a cute cartoon character as their logo. I wanted to try it. I couldn't help myself. I had heard and seen all of the frozen yogurt craze in Chicago, but the locations never looked as big or open or fun as this one did.

So one night for dinner we strolled in, grabbed a cup, and looked at the huge wall of selections for frozen yogurt flavors. Vanilla, chocolate, chocolate covered strawberry, Georgia peach, cake batter, Irish mint, blueberry, strawberry banana, there were so many that I had a hard time and could never pick just one. Luckily it's made for you to mix and match whatever you'd like. First time around I had cake batter swirled with strawberry banana. It's even more fun because flavors rotate and differ on the store, so it's an adventure every time!

The Boyfriend @ Menchie's

Then you stroll over to the long toppings counter. First are plastic bins like you'd see in a candy store, but in addition to candy they have cereal, sprinkles, nuts, pretzels, coconut, and any other dry toppings you might like to sprinkle on. Another lower set area of the toppings counter had fresh fruit, cookie dough pieces, cheesecake pieces, and cooler options to toss on. Then, of course, the end has silver containers where you can squeeze caramel, chocolate, fudge, or marshmallow toppings. Just the toppings bar made me feel like a child - wanting everything, but unable to choose. My strawberry banana cake batter was topped with fresh strawberries and cheesecake pieces. Besides the cake batter and cheesecake, this was a low-calorie and low-fat treat.

How it works is you put as much or as little of all the flavors and toppings into a bowl or a cone bowl and then, when you're done, you weigh it and pay around 42 cents per ounce. Let me tell you, it's more fun and cheaper than most ice cream shops. Brandon even loved it because he could avoid the fruits he thought were nasty and mix together a mint and chocolate treat with cookie dough pieces and caramel. He was just as giddy as I was picking out his flavors.

When I looked Menchie's up online I saw they have a smileage club. It's a rewards program you can join online or in store and use a rewards card or your phone number to get points for every dollar you spend. If you spend $6.78 you would get 6.78 points - they do everything down to the penny. Then when you reach 50 points you get $5 free. But for signing up you get 25 smile points and if you use your card within the first week of signing up you get another 10 points free. Of course, I did both those things to get 35 free smiles. Plus, I'm looking forward to my free frozen yogurt on my birthday.

The smileage club sent us back two more times to stock up on points and get our $5 free. I tried vanilla and georgia peach the next time - which was wonderful - and got georgia peach the next time too but with blueberry and marshmallow topping. It was always fun picking what flavors I wanted and what kind of dessert or treat I wanted. It could be fruity, healthy, dairy-free, or a thick tasty dessert.

For those of you who love options, trying new things, or have picky eaters that like to pick and choose, I'd recommend Menchie's frozen yogurt. While there's a lot of fro-yo out there, this place is friendly, well designed and just too cute.