Susie Church | Food Fight
Orange Leaf and iYO
Published: Thursday, December 5, 2013
Updated: Thursday, December 5, 2013 09:12
Word is buzzing around campus about something big that entered Davis Square this year. It’s the franchise that started the froyo revolution of the 2000s, the creamy frozen yogurt whose popularity has recently skyrocketed: Pinkberry. But before we start dreaming about eating parfaits surrounded by neon, I want to set the spotlight on the two frozen yogurt old-timers in Davis Square: iYo Café and Orange Leaf. iYo is a local Davis gem, while Orange Leaf is a countrywide frozen-yogurt chain, similar to Pinkberry. These two joints offer a special feature of the frozen yogurt industry that Pinkberry does not: the self-serve, pay-by-weight system. This week, I decided to bring these two establishments head-to-head by trying a basic frozen yogurt creation at each respective store: an original tart flavored froyo with blueberries, strawberries, mango and mochi.
First up: iYo. I walked in the door and was a little confused. Was I in the right place? I felt like I had stepped into a hip, romantic eatery, not a froyo joint. Ambient music played in the background of the candlelit room as customers ate at stained wooden tables. I walked to the back of the store and checked out the options. iYo serves 12 different flavors of frozen yogurt, along with dry, fruit and sauce toppings. As I was constructing my creation, I noticed one of the baristas changing a sauce dispenser and got a little weak in the knees thinking of the real, warm, thick caramel. I took a minute to pull myself together and paid the 49 cents per ounce for my yogurt. After one bite, I was sold. The tart frozen yogurt was delightfully tangy. The fruit tasted pretty fresh, especially the blueberries. While the mochi was a bit harder than I like, the flavor was perfect. All together, iYo felt like the whole package: the perfect place for grabbing a post-date dessert and the quality ingredients to match.
Feeling satisfied and optimistic, I headed over to Orange Leaf hoping for a comparable delivery. I knew it was trouble when I walked in. My eyes were instantly assaulted with bright lights and clashing colors. The wood and marble of iYo was replaced with orange vinyl and shiny plastic. In terms of the selection, Orange Leaf had 16 flavors to boast and more dry toppings, but was sadly missing mango (and real caramel!) in its toppings bar. After paying the same rate for my cup, 49 cents per ounce, I brought the yogurt over to one of the cushy orange stools and had at it. Oh, no. The original tart flavor tasted milky, almost sour, and the fruit even looked old. The mochi was softer but less flavorful, and the weird taste of the yogurt wouldn’t leave my mouth. I left with my yogurt unfinished and my dreams of endless delicious froyo joints squashed, quite sure that I would never return again.
iYo was a clear winner in this case. Its lovely, sophisticated atmosphere mixed with high-quality ingredients makes it something truly special within our Davis Square community. I hope it survives with Pinkberry around, and I encourage all Tufts students to support its small but meaningful business. I, of all people, know how hard it is to resist Pinkberry’s Gingerbread (with toppings), but I would also be heartbroken to see such a creative addition to our community fall to big business.
Susie Church is a sophomore who has not yet declared a major. She can be reached at Susannah.Church@tufts.edu.