This Froyo is hollow, just like my soul
Frozen yoghurt leaves JOE GOODMAN feeling empty, in more ways than one.
I knew I wasn’t going to like Froyo a long time before I tried it. Peering across the street from my 5 items or less, I could see Chill wasn’t the place for me. No, not with it’s cryogenic chamber-cum-apple store interior and its abstract shapes-cum-children’s doll house picnic tables. I’d stick to the frozen foods aisle, I thought; a trendy abbreviation isn’t enough to tempt me away from 2 for 1 Neapolitan.
But I gave it its due, and forgave my friends when they came back with sticky lips and stone-cold eyes. As long as it kept a respectful distance from me I would happily keep mine.
By early March, however, I was sick of the saccharine instagrams that clogged up my newsfeed and tired of the white and blue pots that lined every public bin. Things had gone too far. It’s not that I wanted to deny people their fun, I just didn’t want to feel it was being imposed on me.
One afternoon I bumped into a friend in the queue for Sainsbury’s self-checkout. We got chatting in that way friends do, and when it came for me to scan my 4 cans of spaghetti and meatballs, it seemed unnatural to say goodbye.
“Do you want to get a coffee?” I asked, expecting a general affirmation.
“How about Froyo?” was the response. “It’s just across the road”.
The obvious answer was ‘No’, but in that moment of terror something confounded me. A cold chill, like the dying breath of an overworked dairy cow, exuded from my nostrils and hung in the air spelling the letters Y-E-S, and before I could control myself I was nodding vigorously and walking down Green street.
But that’s when the weirdness ended. I imagine my experience of Chill was actually underwhelmingly similar to everyone else’s. You walk in and pay £3.50 for a McFlurry and some jelly beans and then sit in the window like a hunched Wallace and Gromit character so people can see how trendy and modern you are.
I imagine you had the same problem with moving the ceramic chairs (conoid is so ‘in’ right now) and if you were as stupid as me to have chosen the wrong topping first time round, they would have tried to charge you an extra 20p just for coming back.
After about 10 minutes my friend had to run off and I was left alone and lonely staring at a bland purple slop-in-a-cup and thinking about death. The shop had fulfilled my every expectation and I was left wondering how, in a consumer culture as pervasive as ours, we are left desensitised to the fact this is really just an expensive bit of milk in a cup.
So when I sat down to eat and my spoon pierced the yoghurt’s simple façade, it seemed entirely fitting that it should be hollow inside. I doubt I could have thought of a better metaphor if I’d tried.
Fads like Froyo seem to occur on a cycle but the principle is always the same. The whole point is to make something out of nothing. A simple dairy product becomes a social media sensation with the addition of some colourful bells and edible whistles.
The branding of these products screams ideas at us that we invariably want to buy into. With Chill, it is ‘cool’ and ‘relax’ and ‘fun’, but with other products it might be ‘sexy’, ‘sophisticated’ or ‘confident’.
In reality of course you can’t buy these things (not least through the medium of frozen yoghurt) and when you break it down you’re really getting nothing.
And I mean it really is nothing. They might as well be telling you to your face. ‘Fat-free’, ‘low-calorie’, these are hardly even foods. You’re not only going to be left feeling just as inadequate as when you walked in, but you’re also still going to be hungry.
I hate to burst the bubble, but silly little things like yoghurt aren’t going to make you feel better. Get out. See your friends. Play in the sun. Run naked across front court of King’s. Whatever it is as long as it’s real, not the empty promises (and products) of marketing directors.
Overpriced frozen yoghurt, I’m fro-ing yo in the bin.