Fro-Yo: The Official Food of Bored Rich White People
By Taylor Tash
The brilliant feminist comedienne Sarah Haskins once stated that yogurt seems to be the official food of women, judging by how companies such as Yoplait and Dannon exclusively feature female-oriented advertisements for their products. While companies producing and marketing store-bought yogurt seem to be only catering to upper-middle class women, the purveyors of the frozen variety want their bland brain freezers to be consumed only by bored rich white people, if New York City is any indication of their marketing strategies.
Frozen yogurt shops have been popping up all over New York for the past decade in the most gentrified neighborhoods. After sufficiently turning Manhattan into the world’s largest and most over-priced strip mall, the scourge has spread to Brooklyn’s affluent neighborhoods. But take a walk through some of the few remaining Brooklyn neighborhoods that are more reasonably priced for lower-income individuals, such as Bed-Stuy or Crown Heights, and the only chain restaurants that have any prevalence are places such as McDonalds’ and KFC. The ‘Racism Still Exists’ campaign adorns bus stops with provocative PSAs stating that these corporations offering cheaper, unhealthier varieties of fast food targeting lower-income areas is an example of racism. Isn’t it just as prejudiced that the frozen yogurt companies are ignoring them?
Granted, it makes sense to put places that sell overpriced frivolities closer to the residences of people who can more comfortably afford quadruple-digit rents, but why does frozen yogurt have to be considered such an extravagant luxury in the first place? It’s not as delicious as traditional ice cream or gelato, and with all the added sugar and chemicals it certainly isn’t good for you in spite of however much fruit or other ‘natural’ toppings you pile onto it. But are New Yorkers so desperate for a treat disguising itself as health food that there needs to be what seems like a dozen different chains on nearly every corner of the city? It was bad enough when it was just a bunch of Pinkberries and Red Mangos popping up everywhere, but now we have 16 Handles, Yoogler, yogomonster, and countless others competing to please the Yuppie palate. Is frozen yogurt seriously that high in demand that we need so many options?
But I understand that this is just capitalism, pure and simple. All of these other suits and ties saw how successful Pinkberry and Red Mango were doing and wanted in. But that’s what’s so depressing about this situation. I moved to New York to live in an exciting, cultured city. With so many companies selling the same product and utilizing practically the same design scheme, I feel like I’m back in the suburbs but with half of the space or the luxuries. Most people are saying it’s just a trend, and the fact that a lot of these branches aren’t succeeding and shutting down is a good indicator of that. But I fear that when frozen yogurt dies out something just as annoying and useless will take its place, and the increasingly higher rents will just move those trends out to other boroughs and neighborhoods, contributing to an even greater feeling of homogeneity. I suppose New York has always been a city dedicated to finance and capital just as much, if not more, to art and culture, but it’s upsetting that now more than ever we have so many reminders that in the end greed will often prevail.