Recently I found myself at the register of a Pinkberry with a pretty swirl of coconut frozen yogurt topped off with a load of sticker shock.
"It's just one small," I said upon seeing the price, gesturing behind me that I was alone and wondering how many swirls she just charged me for. She didn't crack a smile and just repeated herself: "It's $5.36."
I had to find out how one simple swirl of frozen yogurt couple possibly cost over five dollars. Granted it had strawberries on it, but they weren't even that good.
But I'm also all about giving a company the benefit of the doubt. Maybe Pinkberry has some special process or ingredients that justify the price tag, like unicorn horn dust. It was, after all, some tasty and smooth yogurt. But so is my usual scoop of Cappuccino Chunky Chocolate frozen yogurt from regional frozen treat purveyor Braum's, which costs $1.46.
So I lined up their ingredients side by side, to see what I was paying for: A small Pinkberry weighing in at $5.36 versus Braum's at $1.46.
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Milk products and sugar are the in the lead-off positions for both. Then each product gets into flavoring: a coconut puree for Pinkberry and a cappuccino base and chocolate chunks for Braum's, all of which have natural flavorings and sugar.
Pinkberry has xanthan gum, guar gum and carrageenan, which all aid in thickness and binding. Braum's uses the same stuff, just a little further down in the ingredient list. And lastly -- we're talking very small amounts at this point -- there are agents used as preservatives, starch and cream.
They're basically the same thing, minus differences for specific flavors. One just cost a lot more.
Back in 2008, Pinkberry got hit with a class action lawsuit for not publishing its ingredients, which the plaintiff contended was needed to verify the yogurt maker's health claims. After paying $750,000 in a preliminary settlement, Pinkberry decided to put the ingredients all online, albeit in six-point font. So, maybe the extra money goes toward a magic ingredient that aids in eyesight. Unicorn horn dust does that, right?