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The Cold War

White Rabbit

Frozen yogurt chains battle on Elmwood Avenue

Within a matter of weeks and one-tenth of a mile, outposts of two self-serve frozen yogurt chains, Yotality and White Rabbit Frozen Yogurt, opened on Buffalo’s Elmwood Avenue. Their unusual proximity and coincidental timing raises the question: How do the froyo emporiums stack up and is there room in the village for both?

The concept behind the stores is identical. Customers take a container, mix and match frozen yogurt flavors and toppings in any amount, and then pay for their creation by the ounce. Each day, the stores offer a rotating assortment of flavors that range from the classic (e.g., vanilla and chocolate) to the trendy (e.g., red velvet and birthday cake). Though the names of flavors differ between stores (for instance, what Yotality calls “go bananas,” White Rabbit calls “banana rama”) the menus are nearly the same in every other way. Both offer their own versions of tart Greek-, espresso-, peanut butter-, sea salt caramel pretzel-, cookies and cream-, apple pie-, and candy bar-flavored yogurt, and both chains tout the health benefits of the active bacterial cultures in their products.

Continuing the parallelism, yogurt varieties from both stores smack of artificiality, though White Rabbit’s versions do taste, overall, more like the flavors they are trying to emulate. In terms of texture and consistency, the products are indistinguishable—smooth but lacking the seductive creaminess of ice cream. And yogurt from both stores takes on an unappealing translucency as it melts.

The similarities extend to the toppings bar, where customers choose from an array of candies, gummies, cereals, chocolates, cookies, and sauces to customize their yogurt. Yotality and White Rabbit have numerous toppings in common and many of those, like the flavorless, oddly textured birthday cake and cookie dough pieces, are so close in taste and appearance that they must be sourced from the same vendor. Fortunately, the stores also have enough Oreos, Butterfingers, Fruity Pebbles, Nerds, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, M&Ms, and rainbow sprinkles to make up for the other toppings’ shortcomings.

On another positive note, both stores offer customers healthy options like chopped fruit and nuts, and, impressively, ground flaxseed at Yotality. Despite their weaknesses from a food enthusiast’s perspective, it is easy to recognize the appeal for children, who would delight in the buffet of sweets and do-it-yourself approach, and for those watching their caloric intake or with certain dietary restrictions. Clearly posted nutritional information; the ability to control portion sizes; and the availability of low-fat, fat-free, gluten-free, and dairy-free yogurt varieties at both locations makes it easy to indulge the occasional sweet tooth without wreaking havoc on one’s diet.

Similar flaws and lack of any significant differences between the two stores makes it difficult to pick a clear winner in a side-by-side comparison; though, if pressed, I would choose White Rabbit for its slightly superior taste. Whether there are enough frozen yogurt fans in the Elmwood Village to support two nearly identical businesses remains to be seen.

Personally, I’d rather treat myself to the real deal, not a factory-made, low-fat substitute. So next time I’m strolling Elmwood and a dessert craving strikes, you’ll find me a few blocks north at Gelateria Luca, happily sacrificing a dose of probiotics and calorie transparency for the rich, nuanced flavors of homemade gelato.

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