This paper (err…blog post) reviews the common method employed by patrons of Do It Yourself (DIY) frozen yogurt establishments for creating their custom treat and discusses its strengths and limitations. Then a new approach is proposed which completely overcomes the limitations of the currently employed method. Finally, a step-by-step guide is presented to allow for easier transition to this new methodology for both the lay [non-regular DIY froyo consumers] and experienced [frequent DIY froyo consumers] populations.
The frozen yogurt industry took a hit in the late 1990’s but has reinvented itself and emerged as a top diet trend in the past few years [Frozen Yogurt Industry Analysis 2013]. Likely contributors to this include: a more health-focused population who view frozen yogurt establishments as a healthy indulgence; the DIY, completely customizable experience (let’s be real, Dairy Queen never puts enough toppings into their Blizzards); and the trillions (conservative estimate) of potential combinations available thanks to a large variety of flavors and toppings to mix and match. With so many options available it can certainly be an overwhelming experience for patrons, which likely contributes to pervasive utilization of an insufficient and flawed methodology. Therefore, it is important to highlight the limitations of the traditional method utilized and propose a new, improved methodology.
TRADITIONAL LINEAR METHODOLOGY:
After countless observations it is apparent that customers go through the DIY froyo line in a linear manner, 1st- selecting their flavor (maybe 2+ flavors for the more adventurous), 2nd- adding toppings, and 3rd- finishing it off with some whipped cream or hot fudge. While this methodology is no doubt efficient and commonly accepted, several limitations exist which negatively impact the frozen yogurt experience.
1. Unequal distribution of toppings within frozen yogurt. By stacking toppings on top (reinvention of ‘toppings’ verbage coming in next section) two distinct levels are created. The beginning of the eating experience is predominated by the toppings with little frozen yogurt incorporated into each spoonful and the conclusion of the session is characterized by froyo only, as all toppings have been consumed.
2. Limited choices. By employing the linear methodology, the possibilities are diminished. Start with a green tea flavor base, and you have just kissed your chances of consuming some toppings in an enjoyable manner good-bye. Furthermore, you are locked into 1 theme for your entire treat. Want to create a pumpkin pie-inspired dish but you are also feeling game for some Nerd candy or fruit as well? Not possible with the linear method.
3. Risk of incompatible combinations. Years of rigorous experimentation have found this, so it should be common sense, but just so to reiterate the point…Sour Patch Kids and chunks of Snickers bars do not belong in the same bite. The biggest mistake observed in an attempt to overcome the 2nd limitation of the linear method is total disregard for palatable flavor combinations.
Clearly, this methodology is flawed and development of a new technique is of utmost importance.
MIXED METHODS APPROACH:
To resolve the limitations of the linear method
we (actually, just me!) have developed an alternative methodology – the mixed method approach. This approach deviates heavily from the linear approach as toppings are viewed as enhancers or additives, to the frozen yogurt, not just items to be spooned on the top. The steps of the mixed method approach are 1st – additive base, 2nd – frozen yogurt flavor(s) #1, 3rd – transition layer additives, 4th – frozen yogurt flavor(s) #2, 5th – final additives, and 6th – finishing touches (such as whipped cream and hot sauce). It is important to note that this methodology is not set in stone. Flexibility is allowed and encouraged. For instance, items commonly considered finishing toppings can be inserted in any layer as necessary for an optimal flavor profile.
This method overcomes issue #1 of the linear method by creating layers of additives (previously referred to as toppings) within the frozen yogurt. It overcomes issue #2 and #3 of the linear method by creating different domains and thus allowing for multiple frozen yogurt combinations, which are appropriately separated from each other. For example – a base of gummy additives will be separated from the top layer of more rich additives by a layer of frozen yogurt associated with the base, a transition additive layer, and the frozen yogurt associated with the top additive layer. Thus, Reese’s peanut butter cups will not mix with the gummy candy.
While this method may seem straight forward and easy to carry out, at least a few practice sessions will be needed until a customer has gained enough experience to successfully carry out the mixed method approach. The most common pitfall is poor choice of additives for the transition layer. This layer needs to complement the frozen yogurt flavors above and below it as well as the base and top additive layers, in case they do mix slightly in the eating process. There is no one optimal transition layer, as it will depend upon the other choices made. Common flavor sense as well as trial and error should be used to refine options for this layer.
Several completely fabricated tightly controlled laboratory trials and field observations in a variety of populations across the world are in agreement that the mixed methods approach is superior to the linear method. Overall frozen yogurt experience, as well as each individual component (compatibility, flavor profile, texture, and enjoyment at each cup layer) are greater in the mixed methods approach compared to the traditional, linear methodology (p <0.001).
Change can be difficult. Thus, to help ease the transition to the mixed methods approach, a guided case study of successful use of this proposed method is presented.
Step 1: Additive Base
In this particular instance a base of strawberries, mangos, cheesecake bites and whipped cream was first added to the bottom of the cup.
Steps 2 and 3: Frozen Yogurt #1 and Transition Additives
The choice here was for a traditional Country Vanilla frozen yogurt and a transition toppings layer of cashews and peanut butter chips. *Note how this layer goes well with the rest of the cup.
Steps 4 and 5: Frozen Yogurt #2 and More Additives
In this instance, NY Cheesecake flavor was chosen and toppings included Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup chunks, a brownie, and graham cracker crumbs.
Step 6: Finishing Touches
Marshmallow topping, peanut butter sauce, and hot fudge completed this particular order.
In conclusion, the author wishes to suggest that the mixed methods approach to tackling the DIY froyo bar be recognized as the gold standard and implemented immediately across populations. Typically, one would insert a sentence here about how further research is needed, particularly longitudinal trials, using other populations, and/or using different measures to assess ‘superiority’ of the mixed methods approach, but the results presented here clearly indicate that is not necessary.
FYI – in case you never caught on…this was mainly a joke. However, give the “mixed methods” approach a try the next time you are at a DIY fro yo place and you will be converted! 🙂