Fro-yo-lo: Pinkberry, Qoola, and Menchie’s

Note: froyo = abbreviation for frozen yogurt, as used throughout below.

As you may have already heard, this past Thursday, February 6th was National Froyo Day! Hooray! What does that mean? Free 6oz Froyo at Menchie’s with presentation of a valid coupon!* Props to my friend Michelle for letting me know about this (what a great ex-employee of Menchie’s). YOLO indeed, as indicated in my title, because this week has been one of the coldest Vancouver has seen in 60-70 years. -7°C surely does not stop Vancouverites from lining up to get free Menchie’s. (For once, this year there was a Menchie’s conveniently located nearby for me, so I didn’t mind the short commute there. Otherwise, I would’ve been perfectly fine without froyo on such a cold day). Therefore, in celebration of National Froyo Day, there is no better post than this one to compare all of the big Froyo chains across the Lower Mainland: Menchie’s, Pinkberry, and Qoola.

Before I jump into that though, here’s a quick blurb about the free one I got: after trying Blueberry Cheesecake and Red Velvet Cake, both of which I found were way too artificial in flavour, I decided to settle for the Cake Batter and the newly introduced, Chocolate Strawberry. Quoting Michelle, Chocolate Strawberry tasted like “strawberry Pocky”, on which I couldn’t agree more. For the toppings, I selected my favourite swirl pearls (they have varying names at different chains but I’ll just stick with the Pinkberry term), cheesecake bits, Reese Peanut Butter Cup chunks, graham cracker bits, and yogurt chips. I don’t know why how I managed to forget strawberries this time around, but maybe that was because I felt like I had lingered around for far too long.

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Now, onto the comparison. All 3 Froyo chains have their own separate loyalty and rewards program – Menchie’s has the Smileage reward program, Pinkberry has its iconic green stamp card, and Qoola has something called a “Qcard”. Also, be sure to keep an eye out for Groupon deals, because all 3 of them participate occasionally. In terms of price range, Personally, my ranking of the 3 would be in this order, from most favourite to least favourite: Pinkberry, Qoola, and Menchie’s. I’ll explain further.

Although Pinkberry offers a limited variety on frozen yogurt flavours, they regularly offer my favourites: green tea (matcha) and mango. Qoola and Menchie’s both offer substantially more, but sometimes I feel quality > quantity. I also like the sizes they offer, especially the mini option – that is always my go-to choice if I am simply trying to satisfy a craving without bleeding my wallet to death. The situation is not much different for topping selection. The main reason I probably enjoy going to Pinkberry more is that there is no self-serve; everything is done by the employees, so our cup of frozen yogurt doesn’t look like a pile of poop. If you were to argue, however, this could be annoying for the customer because there is a limit on how many toppings you are allowed to have. Regardless, here is a Pinkberry froyo I had this past summer using an expired Groupon, which costed me a total of 10 cents:

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Isn’t it beautiful!? Swirled with Chocolate Hazelnut and Cookies N’ Cream, the toppings included strawberries, swirl pearls, pizelle cookie, almonds, and cookies n’ cream (crushed Oreos). Seriously the best treat for yourself after a day of biking around Stanley Park in the summer.

Qoola comes second because of their store layout, and also because they are proudly Canadian! I love how Qoola is always brightly-lit, with inviting round-shaped chairs that allow you to sit and catch up with some friends over froyo. My most recent Qoola consisted of Red Velvet Cake, New York Cheesecake, Strawberry Banana and Sweet Coconut-flavoured froyo, topped with green tea mochi, cheesecake bits, strawberries, crushed almonds, kiwi, peanut butter candies and Oreos.

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Fun fact about Fiona: I unsuccessfully applied to Qoola when the new location near my house was hiring, and to this day I still laugh at myself for having put “I am extremely passionate for frozen yogurt” in my cover letter because I was that desperate for a job. Yes, this is verified by me. I don’t disagree with that statement though.

I must say, the best spoon award goes to Menchie’s – their spoons are not just some ordinary plastic spoon; they feature Menchie the mascot at the end of the magenta-coloured utensil. I also enjoy their whole marketing concept around creating “smiles”, such as their rewards program I mentioned earlier. After all, frozen treats are meant to cheer people up anyway!

Another (Canadian) chain I must mention in this post is Yogen Früz – I feel like this brand has been around for ages because I’ve virtually grown up with it (and according to their website, since 1986, which is way before I existed). However, I feel that the only time I see Yogen Früz around is at the cinemas nowadays.

Where do you like to get your froyo?

* I went over the free 6oz at Menchie’s because I’m just that good at weighing/estimating food. In the end I only had to pay an extra $1.18, which was still really worth it considering the normal price for a similar size would’ve been around $7-8. Froyo is expensive in Vancouver… Then again, everything is expensive here.

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