If you recently went looking for Häagen-Dazs in the Cherry Creek mall, instead you no doubt found a sleek frozen yogurt vendor with a line of self-serve dispensers and a toppings bar floating oddly close to the flow of passerbyers.
Cherry On Top is the latest entry in a string of frozen yogurt places opening across the city (with more slated for the summer), and since it's been a few years since we visited the pioneering competition, we thought it was time to sidle up and give the self-serve model a go.
The concept is simple: Load up on as much frozen yogurt and toppings as you can handle and your end result is weighed and charged at $.44 per ounce. And judging by the massive hot pink tubs that hold your yogurt, they're hoping you go whole hog. The franchise started in California, building on the success of the "Korean style" frozen yogurt craze that's now showing signs of dying down on the coasts. Cherry on Top debuted in the Cherry Creek mall three weeks ago and while the website touts the availability of more traditional Asian-leaning flavors like lychee, taro and green tea, on the day we visited, we saw cake batter and peanut butter cup. Luckily, two tart flavors --original and blueberry -- were available, so we took a swirl of those.
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The toppings, too, reflect a meshing of cultures. We skipped the Nerds, caramel sauce, and a mysterious pink and blue gravel simply called "cotton candy" and instead piled on a selection of chopped fresh fruit and a few colored mini mochi balls. Our fairly reserved serving -- toppings and a partially filled small tub -- came in just over $4.
Cherry On Top's tart frozen yogurt was much sweeter than other brands we've tried. The blueberry, in particular, was akin to eating a sugary cup of Yoplait -- not bad, but not light and refreshing. The original tart was nice and tangy, though still sweeter than we would have liked. Pairing it with the fresh fruit turned out to be a good idea, since the fruit's natural acidity helped balance the overall flavor. The overly chewy mochi balls, however, were a disappointment. They felt like a gelatin hybrid, and the dye caused a bitter aftertaste.
The self-serve concept -- swirling the exact amount of yogurt you want with the exact amount of toppings -- is great, but the place misses the mark with its overly sweet product and kiddie toppings.
Self-serve frozen yogurt with toppings: $.44/ounce