I have a very difficult time committing to long-term relationships with businesses. Punch cards wear holes in my wallet for years until I finally realize I’m never going to achieve that tenth punch to get a free Item X. I sign up for the email lists only to guiltily send them to my spam folder after a few days. I tend to mix up my preferences so much that I just can’t tie myself down to any one place.
One newly-opened business in Green Bay warrants an exception from this personal rule. Smart Cow Yogurt Bar gained an enthusiastic recurring supporter from the moment their sweet frozen yogurt (“fro-yo”) crossed my lips. By the time I got to the register at my first visit, it wasn’t even a question in my mind whether I would join their electronic loyalty program.
I was a bit wary about the whole obsession at first. My friends who came home from college before me were already talking about this mysterious Smart Cow place from the day I arrived back in the area. I’m not much of a dairy person, but I agreed to check it out.
The construction on South Oneida street in Green Bay where the store is located nearly deterred us. Almost turning into the wrong lane whilst weaving between orange cones and traffic signs and makeshift lights was slightly terrifying. The bumper-to-bumper traffic became irritating after not making it through a few stoplights because of diminished speeds. But we soldiered on, and eventually reached Smart Cow.
The scene looked a little bit like a sold-out concert. Groups of people were standing outside the store, even more were sitting on the patio furniture provided by the business, and the line inside stretched from the register in a giant loop back out the door. However, it was moving quickly and people looked happy, so we joined the queue and eventually wound our way up to the fro-yo dispensers lining the brightly-colored walls.
The sheer number of available flavors was overwhelming. The spectrum of fruity flavors from Orange Sorbet (my new favorite) to Watermelon Sorbet (a little sour) and Blueberry Tart (tastes just like Yoplait yogurt except ice cold) were tempting, but I went for the more dessert-y flavors like Birthday Cake (party in your mouth), Red Velvet Cupcake (a very bold flavor) and Sea Salt Caramel Pretzel (this was a very confusing palatal experience, but salty ice cream is actually amazing.) That’s the thing about a self-serve fro-yo bar: you can literally create any combination to fit any mood you’ve ever had. And I haven’t even started on toppings yet.
There are the staples, of course: brownie pieces, cookie dough and Oreo along with many kinds of granola, cereal, candy and fruit. A few surprises hid amongst the regular toppings, though, as I soon found out. Those innocent strawberry-flavored yogurt clump things? There are Pop Rocks inside. After a terrifying ten seconds of thinking something in my mouth region had burst open, I realized it was just the rocks crackling and flying around. Whew. There were also fruity boba as an option, which are the capsules that rest at the bottom of bubble tea. I’d never considered putting them on fro-yo before.
I’ll admit, I’ve been back to Smart Cow a few times by now (at least five) and am proud to say I redeemed my free yogurt after reaching enough points. All my hard work (driving to the store and agonizing over flavor choices) paid off. And now, at least 20 percent of the time, when I receive a text from a friend in the afternoon, it simply says “FY?” No further words needed, my friend. I’ll see you at Smart Cow.
My favorite concoctions I’ve made thus far:
1/2 Orange Sorbet
1/2 Tahitian Vanilla fro-yo
Spoonful of gummy bears
Spoonful of strawberries
Spoonful of mango boba
Spoonful of cookie dough
It’s your birthday
1/2 Birthday Cake fro-yo
1/2 Sea Salt Caramel Pretzel fro-yo
Spoonful of brownie pieces
Spoonful of Twix
Sprinkle of graham cracker crumbs
Squirt of Ghirardelli chocolate syrup
—By Marina Oliver