On a February afternoon, a light snow falls steadily from the sky and the temperature hovers in the low 30s. But to peek in the front window of Yogi Castle in Ellicott City, you’d think it was a steamy July afternoon. Every table is occupied, and members of a girls rec league basketball team and their parents stand in the back, eating yogurt and celebrating a victory.
“I don’t know what it is about Howard County residents and their frozen yogurt, but they love it,” says owner Jenna Kwan. “It doesn’t matter if it’s 10 at night, below freezing or pouring rain — there are always customers in here.”
Five years ago TCBY was the lone yogurt establishment in Howard County. Today there are six frozen yogurt shops serving the creamy dessert and dozens of toppings ranging from the exotic (see sidebar) to standards like candy, fruit and sprinkles.
Here is a glance at the local frozen yogurt scene and what is popular:
Tutti Frutti Frozen Yogurt
9191 Baltimore National Pike
Ellicott City • 410-480-1830
6250 Columbia Crossing Circle
Columbia • 443-546-4602
Flavors available each day: 15, can be swirled together
Most popular flavors: Vanilla, chocolate and cookies & cream
Number of toppings: 40
Most popular toppings: Boba poppers, mochi & cookie dough
“Tutti Frutti is the world’s largest frozen yogurt franchise, with over 400 stores in the United States and 1,000 worldwide,” Tony Paek, owner of the Columbia Tutti Frutti, says proudly.
Although frozen yogurt has been around for many years, it wasn’t until the last decade that advances were made that mellowed yogurt’s traditionally tart flavor and allowed for a much creamier product.
“For a long time the taste wasn’t comparable to ice cream, but now it tastes very similar or even better,” Paek adds. “Some people can’t even tell it’s frozen yogurt.”