Pro: Alex Kain
When I interned for Merrill Lynch in New York last summer, I developed the habit of assuaging my job-induced stress by walking to the Pinkberry on 81st Street (alone), waiting in line with all the UES tweens and mothers (alone), and walking home (still alone) while eating my frozen yogurt and ignoring any judgment warranted by my lonesome excursion. Pinkberry was always there for me, no matter how much my eyes ached from the glare of Excel spreadsheets or my boss attempted to sexually harass the interns.
When I got back to school, I wondered how I would tolerate the pain of the world without regular consumption of my favorite comfort food. But the absence of quality frozen yogurt in New Haven is no longer a problem. Last week, a discreet and nameless frozen yogurt store opened in the former location of the loathsome Tasti D-Lite. I happened upon this location with a friend while walking back from Crown Street. Without a sign or awning to mark its existence, the store lured us in with the same anonymous magnetism that attracts shoppers to an unmarked VIP sneaker store.
For the frozen yogurt layperson, Pinkberry began in Los Angeles in 2005. The West Hollywood location became an instant sensation, attracting customers who drove across town and waited 45 minutes in line for the dessert. Capitalizing on the first store’s success, Pinkberry franchised throughout Southern California and in 2007 opened its first store in New York, which soon generated similar obsession.
All Pinkberries feature sleek, minimalist interiors that could double as the insides of trendy day spas. Pinkberry distinguishes itself from other frozen yogurt chains by offering diced mango, strawberries, kiwis and other fresh fruit toppings and by serving a frozen yogurt that actually tastes yogurty.
While Pinkberry has thrived, it has also spawned imitations. I had tried one in Seattle called Yoberry — it was a waste of time — so I was skeptical at first of the new no-name New Haven location. How could any imitator live up to my profound love of Pinkberry, especially when the place doesn’t even have a name and is located in the shell of a former culinary wasteland?
Despite my reservations, I was delighted to find a reliable frozen yogurt that satisfied my dessert cravings. Hello again, comfort food. Unlike Pinkberry, which serves only its signature yogurt, this new place offers gelato, soft-serve ice cream and frozen yogurt. The green tea gelato I sampled was too sweet and flooded my mouth with excessive green tea flavor. The soft serve is comparable to what you can find in Commons, provided the machine works. But the store’s real hallmark is its frozen yogurt, which balances creamy, tangy and fresh elements. It’s indulgence and refreshment packed into a paper cup.
Compared with Pinkberry, the New Haven version is slightly creamier with a less tart taste. The new store doesn’t replicate the original, but its yogurt still provides the same type of dessert experience for which I will no longer yearn while at Yale. The yogurt is served with a choice of sliced fruit toppings or more conventional crumbled candies. Fresh fruits — specifically mango and strawberry — best complement the yogurt. Soft fruit chunks provide strong flavors without overpowering the smooth texture of the frozen yogurt—there’s a reason you don’t find Toblerone at the bottom of your Dannon cup.
As I left the store, I immediately called a friend from Los Angeles who was an original enthusiast in West Hollywood. Though it will never be the real thing, I told her, Nameless-D-Lite is as close to Pinkberry as anything I’ve found.
Con: Nicolas Niarchos
One wants to hate the new frozen yogurt/ice cream shop on High Street. Perhaps it is due to the fact that the only customers spotted on its premises so far seem to have been screaming sorority girls. Maybe it’s because it doesn’t have a name (you can find it under the sign of the crossed ice cream cones). But mainly it’s because it replaced the cool freshness of Tasti D-Lite, the Ashley’s of the south side of Old Campus.
Indeed, after the splash that Tasti-D (as students affectionately called it) made on campus four years ago, the only attention that “Unnamed” is getting is comparisons with Pinkberry, the three-year-old Frozen Yogurt sensation that has swept both coasts of America like a two pronged Hurricane Ike. Students have even been heard calling it “Fake Pinkberry” and “That Pinkberry Place.” But if the name “Pinkberry” conjures images of gaudy-coloured additives, 10-year-olds vomiting on the street and loud techno-teen pop, Unnamed does not live up to this reputation.
It’s more of a Pinkberry for postmodernists.
The shiny silence that greets one upon entering Unnamed conjures images of conditions, shattered narratives and the end of history. There is simply a choice. Frozen Yogurt, Ice Cream, Gelato. Nothing else matters anymore. The vision focuses and the noise of the outside world is broken off. Euclidian perspective is shattered only by the colours of the ice-cream, the limited flavours. No one is behind the desk, but as you approach, the great machine of iced chaos humming in the background, you feel as if, when you tap the wall and call the server, some unstoppable force has been offended. You stand still. Fear takes over; only the strawberries have reacted. They have congealed in terror.
It is only after the lady has rifled out your change, only after the ice cream enters your hands, that you realize the choice you have made. You sit, glancing at the window, wondering if you’ll ever get away from the soul-destroying views of white walls and clean surfaces. You feel small against the universe on those red benches and hazard your hard-won treat.
The reward of any quest to Unnamed shatters the taste-buds.
The frozen yogurt is the highlight of the experience. I believe the product exceeds that of Pinkberry. It tastes fuller, richer, healthier than its West-Coast counterpart. The rice cakes that define the Pinkberry brand are made to perfection here. These glutinous hubs squash more perfectly against the teeth than any competitor’s rice cake and complement the flavour of the yogurt with unprecedented intensity. For a moment, you feel whole, and then you feel sated, and, perhaps, if you are greedy, you will later feel sick.
The gelato and ice cream are good, but not nearly as good as the yogurt. Braving the white abyss deserves a better treat than average ice cream. The yogurt is the only way to, for a while, replenish your spirits before you have to leave the frozen tomb and somehow reconcile a universe-shattering aesthetic experience with the world outside.
If the late Jacques Derrida still taught at Yale, Unnamed would be his favorite spot.