Checking out the new TCBY

TCBY bowl

Yo, froyo.

When we saw the sign go up a few weeks ago for a new TCBY next to the Five Guys across from Stuyvesant Plaza, our first thought was: "There is still such a thing as TCBY?"

The idea of a TCBY made us think of the 80s, leg warmers, and the non-fat craze (and that episode of Seinfeld). But frozen yogurt got a makeover during the last decade and somehow became popular again thanks to places such as Pinkberry and Red Mango. Last year TCBY re-tooled its image and approach, switching to the self-service model.

So, with that in mind -- and because we do love ourselves some frozen dessert -- we stopped by the new TCBY here to check it out.

TCBY_interior.jpg

The new-look TCBY borrows a lot from the fro-yo trendsetters. It's self-serve. You can scoop your own toppings. The interior is bright, with candy-colored furniture and stainless steel.

TCBY_yogurt_dispensers.jpg

You take a cup -- which are huge, leaving room for toppings and, uh, overfilling -- and head for the wall of yogurt dispensers. The flavors are paired in combinations that could work together: peanut butter and chocolate, cake batter and strawberry, and so on. You pick your yogurt, and then head for the toppings bar.

TCBY_toppings.jpg

The toppings are more-or-less divided into categories -- healthy things like fruit, stuff like sprinkles and other typical ice cream toppings, chunky stuff like cookies and pop tarts, and nuts. Scoop. Scoop. Head to the registers.

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You place your yogurt on the scales because you're paying by weight -- 49 cents an ounce. These two cups, which were a combined 9.8 ounces, ended up being $4.80 before tax.

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Our selections: chocolate and peanut butter with chocolate sprinkles and peanut butter cup topping, and strawberry and cake batter with sprinkles and crushed pop tarts (our first and last time for pop tarts as a topping).

How's it taste? Not bad. The flavors are strong enough -- the peanut butter really does taste like peanut butter. And the texture is smooth. But, you know, it's not ice cream. It's all smooth and sweet at first taste before trailing off. It's a pretty good substitute for soft-serve ice cream, though.

TCBY is still touting its product as "a wholesome snack that's as delicious as it is nutritious." And it says its yogurt is "Super FroYo," meeting criteria for nutritious content and actually being yogurt (this may be a subtle dig at Pinkberry). Four ounces of the frozen yogurt is around 110 calories (the same amount of Haagen-Dazs will set you back 260 calories). But that doesn't take into account the toppings, which range from healthy (fruit) to less so (Snickers pieces). And it'd be easy to overfill that huge cup. So, your nutritional mileage will vary.

TCBY_exterior.jpg

Would we go back? Sure. It tasted fine. And the price wasn't bad. The location is inspired, right next to a Five Guys (you know, if you can still think about eating after Five Guys). And we bet kids would have fun here, being able to pick their flavors and toppings.

Elsewhere:
+ There was already a new-style self-serve froyo place in Clifton Park called 16 Handles -- Ashallann checked it out this past spring. It looks like TCBY shares a lot in common with that place.
+ And in downtown Saratoga, there's Plum Dandy.

Find It

TCBY
1512 Western Ave
Albany, NY 12203

Comments

I can walk here from my work, and I see gummy worms. This could be dangerous.

You know where else you can find a TCBY? Austin!

Update from ten minutes ago when I left the last comment: I suggested this to my office and we now have a field trip planned for this afternoon. Gummy worms on yogurt, here I come!

Thanks so much for the tip! I love the self-serve idea and am a fan of 16 Handles. TCBY is closer to us, so I will definitely check it out.

i would eat this.

as a semi-related aside: it was thanks to AOA that awareness of Stewart's Pumpkin Pie ice cream was raised, a few years ago. Went to get some at my local Stewie's and they said the WHOLE company was sold out (this was a few weeks ago). Enter Price Chopper Central Market brand Pumpkin pie ice cream. Packaging looks scary--bright orange etc. Hubs took the risk. It was...delicious (and not bright orange) . Whatever you do, don't buy it, put whipped cream on it (like pie), and oh, maybe some chocolate sprinkles. You will want to be alone with it. take THAT, Austin!

but I digress....

Be careful. I think these places play some kind of mind control music or something because every time I go in to one I tell myself I'm just gonna get a little bit but end up walking away from the counter with this heaping cup of various yogurts and toppings. A little of this, a little of that... oh, I have to have some of that.......

Update on my update: I got the plain/sour yogurt, mountain blackberry yogurt and red grapefruit sorbet topped with fresh mango, kiwi, blueberries, red and black raspberries. it was just over four bucks. The fresh fruit was too good to waste with the gummy worms. Sorry gummy worms. Maybe next time.

How big is the inside of the place?

Wondering if it would be a fun place to do a preschooler's birthday party. You know, all of the fun, none of the clean-up? :)

@abby: I would guess the inside is approximately 14.5 preschoolers large. It's probably worth a call to see if they'd do a party.

So weird to see the picture of that place now.
Last I was there, it was a Denny's.

This post inspired me to go and try it. I squirted out a number of flavors, but added no toppings since I wanted to judge the fro yo on its own. I'm kind of a purist on this stuff anyway. Don't want gummi bears in my ice cream or what have you.

The golden vanilla and coffee flavors had nice, strong flavors. The 3 fruit flavors I tried -- strawberry, raspberry, and blackberry -- were simply sweet in different shades of pink. The different fruits were not really distinguishable. A lot of Red dye 40. A spin through the ingredients list online for all the flavors creeped me out some.

The best things I sampled were the ruby red grapefuit sorbet and the "classic tart" fro yo. The fact that I liked these best is an indicator that the product line is too sweet for me. But the Classic Tart (which does contain sugar + corn syrup so don't imagine it's sugar-free) lets you taste the tang of the yogurt, almost like a bit of sour cream. I want my fro yo to have some yogurt taste, not just be a "diet" substitute for ice cream, heavy on the sugar and frankenfood flavorings. Classic Tart had the cleanest taste and I can see myself going back and topping it with fruit. In the summer (when I do crave soft serve), this would be a better choice.

TCBY's promotional literature in the shop suggests their yogurt "even aids in weight mnagement." Well, not with the Super Size Me buckets they give you to fill with the various yogurts and toppings. All their nutritional information is based on a theoretical 4 oz serving, when the containers could easily accommodate 16-24 oz of frozen product. Sure, it's in your hands how much you sqeeze out, but you are being engineered to pig out with those giant containers. It would be better to have small, medium, and large containers.

Update. Went to try it out last night. The place was packed!

The good:
- Lots of toppings. The fresh fruit bar looked very, well, fresh.
- The ruby red grapefruit sorbet was really good. Tangy and not too sweet.
- Cake batter flavor was surprisingly good
- The staff was very friendly. They will help you with tasting any flavor you want.

The not-so-good:
- The place is too neon-ee for me. Going with two kids, I felt a bit out of place. Kindda like I am too old or not hip enough for this place.
- Chocolate flavor was sub-par. Maybe it's just me. But, it was not flavorful.

@abby: the place might be able to squeeze in 14.5 preschoolers like Greg suggested. But, that would be it. Well, maybe 2 more adults. Only 5-6 small tables with a handful of chairs and one long bench. Personally, I won't hold a preschooler party there even when you have the whole place for just your group. Preschoolers + sweet (as much as you can have) + no place to run around.... you get the idea.

Overall, I like this place and would say it is worth a try. Find a flavor you like and load up with fresh fruit.

We went on Monday. One of the things I used to love about TCBY was the cones -- no more cones was a disappointment.

Plus, four kids were sliding around the floor in their socks, and it wasn't even a party (well, not officially).

Oh, and that lady with the laptop was sitting there when we went, too.

Great review! I just tried the place yesterday (sweet tart flavor) and thought it was pretty good. I swirled it with strawberry and added strawberries, kiwi, and mango; the strawberry flavor wasn't memorable, but then again, I didn't have a ton of it. The fruit was good too, especially the strawberries! And I agree the decor might be a little neon but i also think its fun and modern.

Im planning to host a fund raiser there in January. Is it okay to quote some of this post?

The white chocolate was great, but this place is tighter than a clown car, and the night we went all the SUNY students were raising their noses at anyone over 22 or under 18 like they were interlopers of their new hip digs. That's funny to me, since where I come from out West TCBY has been around so long it's considered a senior center for the Wednesday evening after-church crowds.

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