As my visits to Tasti D-Lite became increasingly frequent, I realized what kept me coming back was the excitement and intrigue that comes with the flavors of the day. Why every flavor looks like chocolate or vanilla is as much a mystery to me as it is to you, but this blog aims to serve as a repository for reviews on and pictures of each Tasti flavor--enjoy!

Have pictures, reviews, or news? E-mail!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Tasti Launches Flavor Alerts

It's been a while since we've had a post at Tasti D-Lite--as we're stuck in New Haven without Tasti, we aren't able to review frequently, and Tasti news has been quiet.

But today there was a pretty nifty new feature on Tasti's website worth mentioning. Tasti Flavor Alerts will text or e-mail you when a nearby location is serving your favorite flavor. When we're in New York, we'll be sure to set it up for all of our four-star reviews.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Wall Street Journal Takes a Look at Tasti Expansion

The WSJ's Ellen Byron took a look today at the state of Tasti's worldwide expansion. The article noted some new details of the expansion plan, including that new products will be introduced such as baked goods.
James Amos, who, along with New York private-equity firm Snow Phipps Group LLC, acquired the New York-based frozen-dessert business for $21 million last year, is forging deals to expand the chain nationally and internationally with new store formats, additional flavors and new products such as energy drinks and baked goods.
The Journal notes that Tasti's success and appeal is thanks in large part to a group of devoted fans, who have given the brand a cult-like status. Byron raises the question of if this "distinctly New York phenomenon" can resonate across the country and across the world.

The article noted some impressive statistics about the geographic distribution of the expansion.
Two Tasti D-Lite stores opened this month in Seoul; expansion into Israel and Mexico is in negotiation. Late last month, Tasti D-Lite signed franchising deals for a minimum of 16 stores in Tennessee and at least 40 in Texas, including San Antonio, Austin and Houston. It is working on expanding into California and adding to the seven stores already in New Jersey. Next month, Tasti D-Lite plans to open two flagship stores in New York, including one on the ground floor of the Empire State Building.
Lastly, the article covered Tasti's effort to redesign and revamp the several run down locations currently in operation in New York. The program is surprisingly expensive.
Since closing the deal, Mr. Amos has been working to persuade Tasti D-Lite's existing store owners to transition from their previous licensing arrangement to a franchise, which gives the company more control over stores' appearance and operations. He has been selling the idea by promising financial incentives, updated store designs, as well as marketing and back-office support. Each franchise requires an investment $230,470 to $439,600, depending on factors such as size and location, the company said. Royalty fees of 5% of a store's gross sales are required weekly. Franchises also can expect to pay to build their brand. Contributions to a "marketing fund" amount to 2% of gross sales every week.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Rocky Road

Rocky Road is a pretty standard Tasti flavor--except the infusion of nut flavor leaves a pretty bad aftertaste. It's got a nice, rich chocolate taste nevertheless. As there isn't much to say about the flavor (which probably isn't worth ordering), it seems like a good time to comment on the Danoo TV screens I've spotted in a few Tasti locations. I've seen similar screens at The Coffee Bean when I was in Las Vegas. The content on the flat-screen monitors are customized for the location--news, weather, scores, events, nearby attractions (powered by Yelp), YouTubes, and more. They really add a sense of class to Tasti locations--it will be interesting to see if more screens will be deployed in the coming years.

D-LIST (2 of 4 stars)

80 calories/serving

Thursday, July 10, 2008

New Haven Location Still Closed...But Not For Long?

We've been enjoying our summer in New York, but in no time, we will be heading home to New Haven, where the only Tasti location in Connecticut still hasn't reopened after closing for the winter. The previous owner of the store, Carole Chu, had to close to store for medical reasons, but Tasti is confident a location in New Haven (whether at the old location or not) will soon be a reality. Director of IT BJ Emerson said:
We have been responding to inquiries for the New Haven area. It is just a matter of time before a new franchise location is opened.
Here's hoping!

PB Moosemellow

In May, with much promotion, Tasti launched two new flavors: Green Tea and PB Moosemellow. Yesterday, I was lucky enough to try PB Moosemellow (basically another name for Moose Tracks ice cream--"Vanilla ice cream with peanut butter cups and famous Moose Tracks® fudge"). Tasti's newest flavor was still being promoted with the placard pictured here--and it did not disappoint. As mentioned many-a-time, Tasti's peanut butter flavors are generally the best and the added chocolate component was great. The taste, however, was not that different from Peanut Butter Fudge, which we gave three stars. (And, on this post, commenter Laura noted that all the peanut butters tend to taste the same, which is definintely somewhat true.) While Green Tea was a natural thing to add to the repitoire (as Pinkberry's Green Tea becomes increasingly popular), it's unclear why PB Moosemellow was necessary. But, nevertheless, I'm happy it was invented, because I thoroughly enjoyed it.

TASTI (3 of 4 stars)

100 calories/serving

Toasted Almond

There's something less satisfying about going to the non-Tasti-branded outlets--the stores which serve Tasti, as well as other things. This particularly location was a candy shop on Madison Ave., which sold candies, Tasti, and weird animals such as this sheep. And you get your Tasti in a plain white cup instead of a cool Tasti one. The whole experience is just somewhat dampened. Yet, out of the dreariness emerged a surprisingly great flavor--Toasted Almond. It's sweet, but with a real tang and kick to it. The first bites are startingly good, but the kick loses its impact by the end, preventing it from getting four stars.

TASTI (3 of 4 stars)

80 calories/serving

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Goji Smoothie

I figured it was finally time to start trying Tasti's newest products. I tried a sundae a few weeks ago and was impressed, so yesterday I moved onto the new line of Jamba Juice-like smoothies. I got the Goji Berry Smoothie--which has frozen strawberry, fresh banana, Vanilla Tasti, and goji berry mix. Given that smoothies are an important effort by Tasti to diversify the menu, let's break this one down:

1. WTF is a goji berry!!???? I think the customer is supposed to just be like, "Hmm... it sounds Asian and trendy--must be good for you and delicious!" Wikipedia informs that the most common name is actually "Wolfberry," which sounds much less Asian, trendy, and delicious. Rather, it sounds kind of hairy--I see why they went with goji. It turns out that Tasti is part of a pretty interesting trend:

Renowned in Asia as a highly nutritious food, wolfberries have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for about 1,900 years (Gross et al., 2006). Their undocumented legend, however, is considerably older, as wolfberries are often linked in Chinese lore to Shen Nung (Shennong), China's legendary First Emperor, mythical father of agriculture, and herbalist who lived circa 2,800 BC. Since the early 21st century in the United States and other such developed countries, there has been rapidly growing recognition of wolfberries for their nutrient richness and antioxidant qualities, leading to a profusion of consumer products. Such rapid commercial development extends from wolfberry having a high ranking among superfruits expected to be part of a multi-billion dollar market by 2011.

Who knew Tasti could find inspiration from China's legendary First Emporer. Superfruits are fruits with crazy awesome nutritional value and keep you healthy and are delicious. Tasti clearly read the memo on superfruits as a multi-billion dollar market--all four smoothie flavors (acai, goji, pomegranate, and mangosteen) are all superfruits. They do not include the more traditional, but less trendy superfruits such as blueberries or cranberries. In any case, these new superfruit smoothies clearly fit in Tasti's healthy but yummy niche and their new brand image. (Side note: The good thing about numbered posts is that you can skip boring stuff like this!)

2. These smoothies are expensive!! A small cost me $5.75! It was very filling and the price is about the same you'll find at Jamba, but this price will keep most from having a smoothie as anything but an occasional treat.

3. The server was definitely not very well trained on these smoothies. He looked completely perplexed when I ordered and then had to leave the counter to go look at the promotional poster to see what was in the goji smoothie. He also didn't know the price and had to look it up in the binder. It appears the smoothies aren't selling too well yet...

4. The process of making the smoothie was very poorly presented as well. The server opened up the fridge and took this huge bottle of "goji mix"--which is syrupy and sugary and kind of gross looking. The whole point of these superfruit smoothies is how fresh and healthy they are--and right in front of your eyes, they show you how processed and sugary they must be. Obviously, they aren't going to import fresh gojiberrry, but don't let me see exactly what the gross mix looks like! Make it where I can't see it! It reminds me of when I was 14 and ran to get my favorite soft serve at a Red Sox game and watched them for the first time pour the lumpy, entirely disgusting mix into the machine.

5. So--I made it to point 5 and haven't yet mentioned HOW IT TASTES. And, in fact, the answer is quite positive. The smoothies are great! Without ice, the smoothies aren't as cold and chunky and Jamba--in fact, I amazingly enough, preferred Tasti smoothies to Jamba Juice. The gojiberry was a unique and good taste, and the strawberry/banana/vanilla Tasti really complemented it well. It's very tart but sweet. Nutritional value was not posted on the poster or online. Do any readers know? Comment away! I'd imagine it's not too many calories. In any case, I'm excited to try the other flavors! And Tasti's diversification efforts are off to a good start!

TASTI (3 of 4 stars)

Monday, June 30, 2008

O Tasti!

This post's title is not only an exclamation, but also the flavor of the day! O Tasti is presumably a spin on the O Henry candy bar and is one of the more amusing Tasti spins on a trademark. While the candy bar has peanuts, caramel, nougat, and chocolate, the server informed me this one was only caramel and (yet another) peanut butter. As always the Peanut Butter was delicious--but the caramel actually hurt the flavor--the two strong tastes battled for predominance rather than complementing one another. So we'll knock the rating down for ruining a good thing. O Tasti!

(This Chase logo was the closest we could find to an 'O'.)

NASTI (2 of 4 stars)

90 calories/serving

Friday, June 27, 2008

Cookies 'n Cream

When I saw Cookies 'n Cream on the day's menu at Tasti, I was perplexed at how it would differ from Oreoes 'n Cream, which is the same thing in traditional ice-cream speak. But props to Tasti for pointing out that there are other kinds of cookies you can eat 'n cream besides Oreos! Cookies 'n Cream basically tastes like chocolate chip cookies (minus the chocolate chips), and it's quite good. I don't think I have a delicate enough pallate to taste the cream, but I trust that it's there. In any case, the flavor ends up being pretty standard and delicious, but nothing out of the extrordinary. It's commentary on the skewering of "Cookies 'n Cream" in colloquial lexicon is interesting but not enough for four stars.

TASTI (3 of 4 stars)

80 calories/serving

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Black Cherry

Unfortunately, this will be our first picture-less review, as our photo of Black Cherry didn't come out well, which is too bad because it has an interesting and distinctive pink color. This pink color, however, is also unfortunate, because it only adds to the Pepto-Bismol/Tums taste. The flavor is strong and sustains itself...but it just isn't good. I am a fan of Black Cherry as a flavor in general, so I was in the target audience, it just doesn't work with this texture. Alas--can't win them all. My friend and I split a large mix-in Tasti--they blend the topping into the Tasti, McFlurry-style. It was quite good and definitely made up for the Black Cherry disaster.

NASTI (1 of 4 stars)

80 calories/serving

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Peanut Butter Fudge

Over the past few months, I've been quite vocal in my support of Peanut Butter Tasti flavors. Today, I had the honor of trying yet another--Peanut Butter Fudge. The Tasti scientists clearly have the Peanut Butter formula down pat--and it's no surprise Peanut Butter flavors are their most popular. Peanut Butter fudge adds a subtle deep chocolate aftertaste to the typical Peanut Butter taste, and it works well. Of course, as I've discussed before, I don't want to give four stars to every Peanut Butter flavor, and Fudge had the bad luck of coming after several of its counterparts and having much more to offer.

TASTI (3 of 4 stars)

90 calories/serving

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Bloggers Reacts to New Tasti Logo

Back in March, we analyzed Tasti's new logo and branding initiative and were generally favorable. Today, Brand New takes a closer look at the new logo and tagline and likes it as well:

That said, the new logo is tempting — sort of like peeping at a dessert through a key-hole. Forms, and elements from the previous identity are reassuringly present; including the sweet pink and rich blue. The dollop holds its own without a thick badge, and the expression is now less Droste Effect without the fancy glass bowl. Avenir is refreshingly light as a support to brand the otherwise slick and generic symbol. The lockup is proportionally top-heavy with the huge dollop of product floating over the loose type.

The comments are supportive as well, although many readers noted the new logo looking a little like...excrement. I'm not sure I see it.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Cake Batter

The act of purchasing Tasti D-Lite today was highly unusual--the closest location to my office is a weird little "Candy Shop" on 38th and Madison. Most suprising? There was a cat in the store! This Tasti Cat (as my friend Sarah called it) was quite cute and clearly had to be in the picture.

The presence of a cat somewhat made up for the kind of bland flavor. I didn't have the highest expectations for Cake Batter--it didn't have much flavor and was just very vanilla-y. It did taste fairly refreshing though on a hot day. I got half Peanut Butter because I couldn't resist myself, and the mixture improved upon Cake Batter--but mostly because it was just a diluted version of one of my favorite flavors. No need to crank up the Flavor Locator for this one.

D-LIST (2 of 4 stars)

80 calories/serving

Friday, June 13, 2008

Banana Pudding

The extent of coincidence in life is sometimes just too overwhelming. Yesterday afternoon, I posted about the new flavor locator feature and included a screencap of my unsuccessful test search. As you can see, I searched for "Banana Pudding," as I had decided it was the flavor I most felt like at the moment out of the hundreds of options.

The bad news is that the Flavor Locator doesn't appear to be fully live for all stores yet. The good news was that when I stopped by the Tasti closest to my apartment that night, they, of course, were serving Banana Pudding. I feel like I must have done something right yesterday in order to receive such a sweet reward.

For the most part, Banana Pudding did not disappoint. The flavor was strong and sweet. However, by the end of the cup, I felt nauseated--which is unusual for a Tasti flavor. The taste just doesn't hold up throughout a whole cup. It would be superb, however, mixed with another flavor--even Dutch Chocolate--to counterbalance the thickness.

TASTI (3 of 4 stars)

80 calories/serving

Thursday, June 12, 2008 Launches Flavor Locator

The Tasti website continues to expand and innovate--this morning, they launched a "Flavor Locator." Users can select a flavor and type in their zipcode, and the locator tells them the nearest location serving that flavor. Unfortunately, most of the ones I tried were not found within a 50 mile radius, so it somewhat serves to remind you of what you want, but can't have. Nevertheless, it's a pretty nifty feature and should be useful for that burning craving.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Chocolate Decadence Sundae

This was my first foray into the complex sundaes offered by Tasti D-Lite--I figured it was about time. It filled a large drinking cup (maybe four or five times a small cup) and had two layers of chocolate Tasti, cookie crumb, and hot fudge. Then it was topped with whipped cream. All for 390 calories! You definitely can't help but wonder how that calorie count is possible. The man behind me in line saw the sundae being made and snarked--"There goes the diet for the week!" (Was he trying to tell me something?) In theory, my "diet" for the week was fine, but it's definitely hard to believe. The sundae was delicious--creamy, rich, and flavorful. It was definitely thick though, and you couldn't order a smaller size. It was a little expensive, too. I'd say it's a great thing to split with friends and probably should be treated with a grain of salt (can it really be healthy?), but probably shouldn't be taken on by oneself.

TASTI (3 of 4 stars)

390 calories/order

Friday, June 6, 2008

Oreos 'n Peanut Butter

Yesterday was the kind of day where the train pulled up right as you swiped into the subway and the guy at ABP put just the right amount of pesto on the sandwich. So it came as no surprise that one of the flavors of the day was Oreos 'n Peanut Butter--which are just about my two favorite foods. As I've discussed before, both peanut butter and Oreo make delicious Tasti flavors--the question was if the mixture would be too much of a good thing... and it wasn't! You could differentiate the two delectable tastes or let your taste buds combine them into a single frozen goodness. They really complement each other well. For creativity and execution, four stars it is!

D-LITEFUL (4 of 4 stars)

80 calories/ounce

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Chocolate Tasti Shake

So Tasti D-Lited is finally in New York! And, best all, our apartment is less than two blocks away from a (rather small) Tasti! And, likewise, reviews should be back on a frequent basis.

For our first trip, we decided to mix it up a bit and try a Tasti Shake on for size--and it fit! (Lolerz, y'all.) While I prefer Tasti to ice cream even without the nutritional factors, I have little taste preference between a Tasti shake and a normal one. Which is a good thing. It tastes rich, creamy, and chocolatey. The taste is rather straight-forward, but I guess that's what one would expect. In any case, I'll definitely be trying some more complicated shakes (and smoothies) in the future.

TASTI (3 of 4 stars)

Friday, May 30, 2008

Berryline Thrives in Harvard Square

So, I'm finally heading to Tasti-land (NYC!) tomorrow afternoon, so flavor reviews will be forthcoming. But, in my last day in Boston, I had to check out Berryline, which I've been hearing from all my friends who go to Harvard. Berryline is the first to market in Harvard Square--which, by the way, would be a great location for Tasti D-Lite (hopefully they'll get there soon). I was fairly impressed with Berryline--it's basically exactly the same as Pinkberry, Red Mango, etc. The taste was the same, the toppings are the same, the name is...similar. But, it's interesting to note how devoted Harvard Square residents are to it already--I went twice today (Oreo with Strawberry and Kiwi, then Original with Strawberry and Blueberry), and it was packed both times. Most people in line who I asked hadn't heard of Pinkberry at all. It will be interesting to see how the whole Pinkberry-like food competition will pan out. None of the companies has too much notoriety or too many locations, and the product is the same. It will be interesting to see if Tasti decides these companies are competition or not--I tend to think not.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Best Customer Quote

The official Tasti D-Lite blog has kindly recognized us again, citing this post as including the "best customer quote on the internet." We headline the top 10 list! Thanks!

The Quote:

"I like to imagine that until the moment I step into the store, the flavors of the day have yet to be decided, and as I push the door open, the frozen dessert gods scan my soul and offer flavors as some sort of karmic redemption."

Tasti Introduces Green Tea, PB Moosemellow

This weekend, over 40 participating Tasti stores introduced the two newest flavors to the Tasti D-Lite community--Green Tea and PB Moosemellow. PB Moosemellow is a snazzed-up name for Moose Tracks ice cream, a personal favorite of mine. I'm quite excited to try the flavor. Green Tea would appear to be a response to the Pinkberrys of the world--Green Tea is one of the two original Pinkberry flavors. The press release acknowledges this, proclaiming that Green Tea "captures one of the hottest flavor trends." In any case, new flavors are always fun.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Tasti Goes International

This past week, Tasti D-Lite announced its first international franchising deal with Coffee Bean Korea Co., Ltd. The deal will bring Tasti D-Lite to South Korea, the first country outside the U.S. to receive Tasti goodness. CEO Jim Amos points out that South Korea is a strong first international location because several "fad yogurt chains" have had great success in the country. It is not specifically noted in the press release that Red Mango, the increasingly popular Pinkberry rival, is based in South Korea and is extremely popular there before coming to New York.

Of course, it's a little hard to believe that Tasti will reach South Korea before, say, Boston, or even Chicago. The deal with Coffee Bean makes some sense, as Coffee Bean fanatics on the west coast are quite similar to Tasti fanatics on the east coast. I doubt it will, but if the deal was extended domestically, I'd imagine it would be quite successful. In any case, the international expansion is certainly exciting for Tasti--I look forward to getting my first e-mail from a Korean Tasti addict.

[EDIT: A commenter points out that there is no connection in the deal between Tasti and The Coffee Bean. It so happens that the main franchiser in South Korea of The Coffee Bean is also working with Tasti D-Lite now. There is no connection between the two companies.]

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Peanut Butter Mounds

It's been quite a while since we've had a flavor review on Tasti D-Lited, but we were able to make it into the city for a morning and stopped by a Tasti. It was interesting to see the prominence of the promotion for the new smoothie and sundae lines, but sadly I did not have time to try them out.

Instead, I got Peanut Butter Mounds, with high expectations. I gave Peanut Butter a four-star review back in October and noted how many more varieties of peanut butter remain. Of course, I'm now running into trouble--Peanut Butter Mounds, as most of the peanut butter flavors will be, was incredible, equal to original Peanut Butter. But I don't want to get set in a precedent of giving four stars to each peanut butter inspired blend!

So, we'll give it three stars, and save four stars for peanut butter flavors that go over the top. But, Peanut Butter Mounds was an excellent way to finally get my Tasti fix.

TASTI (3 of 4 stars)

100 calories/serving

Sunday, May 11, 2008

New Franchising Program Details

Tasti D-Lite filed a very thorough press release on Friday with announcements about the franchising program. The details are fairly promising:

- 36 previously independently owned Tasti stores have switched over to become Tasti franchises. This does not appear to include my local New Haven location. The press release notes that Tasti is currently through over 60 independent stores--interesting to note they only have about half on board at this point. And, of course, these 36 stores are but a fraction of the 500-center franchise planned within five years.

- These stores will be remodeled to fit Tasti's new brand image (paid for by Tasti).

- These stores will have exclusive access to the new flavors and products Tasti will be releasing in the next few months (exciting!).

Exciting stuff! We'll be in New York just for the morning tomorrow, but will be sure to stop by Tasti. So expect the first flavor review in months tomorrow!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Columbia Reacts to Pinkberry Revelation, as Pinkberry Ascends

Last week was a tough one for Tasti competitor Pinkberry with the publication of their (quite unnatural) ingredients, but they seem to be regaining momentum. I hate to see Pinkberry take even one customer from Tasti, so these items are not very inspiring.

- Tasti D-Lited previously covered the Pinkberry v. Tasti battle at Columbia University. The Columbia Spectator reports that students are not deterred by the revelation of Pinkberry's ingredients. In fact, the Spectator goes as far as to claim that Pinkberry is still healthier than Tasti and Yolato.

- Tasti has heralded itself as New York's favorite frozen yogurt/dessert for a number of years now. But, in perhaps the most tangible effect Pinkberry has had on Tasti, Time Out New York's yearly survey has given this title to Pinkberry this year. A sad day indeed.

Look forward to some more Tasti-centric posts soon, hopefully. Tasti D-Lited finally relocates back to New York in less than a month!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Tasti D-Lited Shout Out

Tasti D-Lited was given a shout out today in the official Tasti D-Lite blog. It's quite nice, so many thanks!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Pinkberry's Outing Raises Questions for Tasti

As chains like Tasti D-Lite and Pinkberry have become increasingly popular, there have been concerns about what exactly is in the "yogurt" that makes it taste so good without calories. The drama surrounding the class-action lawsuit continues, now forcing Pinkberry to reveal its exact ingredients, and the results showed why they were so hesitant to do so. Even though Pinkberry markets itself as "all natural," the truth does not lead to that conclusion:
The list includes at least five additives defined by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization as emulsifiers (propylene glycol esters, lactoglycerides, sodium acid pyrophosphate, mono- and diglycerides); four acidifiers (magnesium oxide, calcium fumarate, citric acid, sodium citrate); tocopherol, a natural preservative; and two ingredients — starch and maltodextrin — that were characterized as fillers by Dr. Gary A. Reineccius, a professor in the department of food science and nutrition at the University of Minnesota and an expert in food additives.

The aftermath to the controversy has had interesting ramifications on Tasti. New York Magazine food blog "Grub Street"'s lede to their post about it has to scare Tasti:
Back in those heady days when the small-screen Sex and the City reigned over New York, it was all about skinny girlie-girl Miss Charlotte York and her tasteless Tasti D-Lite. Let’s hope that this summer’s big-screen SATC has caught up with the times, because any body fat–phobic New Yorker knows that today it’s all about that tangy frozen yogurt Pinkberry.

The revelation that Pinkberry is filled with all sorts of gross things has shaded opinion of Tasti as well. Grub Street asked Pinkberry devotees about the news and asked several of them about their opinion of Tasti (none were favorable). The most interesting answer came from Benny Tagliareni, 28, when he was asked if he eats Tasti D-Lite.
Uch, no. I don’t eat Tasti D-Lite. It’s all fabricated — disgusting. There’s nothing wholesome about it. You’re ultimately eating garbage. But I don’t expect any fast food to be healthy at all.

It seems clear that a) perception is that Tasti is composed of non-natural ingredients and b) that this Pinkberry law suit is going to shade opinion of Tasti. Tasti's doing its part with its fresh, very natural new image. Additionally, the "flavor + nutrition" page proclaims "Natural Ingredients." "Tasti Science" explains, "We use natural ingredients and just enough real sugar, because it just tastes better that way."

But, thanks to Pinkberry, the folks at Tasti have to reach out even more stringently to ensure customers that there's nothing unhealthy about eating Tasti D-Lite.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Tasti Socially Networks

As Tasti continues to extend its online presence, it comes as little surprise it's trying to get in on the social networking game. This week, Tasti launched a Facebook page. Users can become "fans," get news, see photos, upload photos, have discussions with other fans, etc. It's unclear as of yet how much value it adds, but we'll have to wait to see what Tasti plans to do with it and how fans use it. An interesting experiment, to be sure.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Pinkberry Is Not Frozen Yogurt

We're a little late on this news item, but Pinkberry settled a suit last week, which asserted their product isn't all-natural frozen yogurt as claimed.

In a class-action lawsuit filed last year, Pinkberry — which operates roughly 50 stores in California and New York — was accused of misrepresenting its product as “frozen yogurt” and making bogus health claims, including that the dessert (which comes in three flavors: plain, which is very sour; green tea, which is chalky; and coffee, uncommonly delicious) was “all-natural.”

In a preliminary settlement reached this week, Pinkberry denied any wrongdoing but agreed to pay $750,000 to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank and Para Los NiƱos. The plaintiff, Lisa Sutton, who said she suffered injuries and undue loss of money spent on Pinkberry products, will receive legal fees and a $5,000 award for bringing the suit.

Under California law, a product cannot be marketed as frozen yogurt unless it is made from milk that is fermented with certain bacteria, mixed off-site rather than in stores, and sold with its ingredients prominently displayed. In the past, Pinkberry had been secret about its products’ ingredients, but it now lists them on its Web site, and it has begun to mix the product off-site.

It's also worth noting that Pinkberry is also considerably more calories than originally claimed. Of course, this isn't anything Tasti hasn't dealt with in the past. Tasti made the switch from "frozen yogurt" to "frozen dessert" a long time ago, and on last week's press release, the PR team finally found a great spin. They wrote, "Not a frozen yogurt because it doesn't contain yogurt and not enough fat to be ice cream, Tasti D-Lite is a uniquely perfect indulgence with just 70 to 100 calories per four fl. oz. serving." This spin still prevents Tasti from seemly unnatural, while clumping its lack of yogurt with a lack of fat.

In any case, it's interesting to see Pinkberry go through the same mistakes Tasti ironed out years ago. Maybe it's not the competitor we thought it might be. For more info on the ingredients in Tasti, check out Tasti Science.

Tasti D is bloggin', press releasin', diversifyin'

The folks at Tasti sent over some interesting news updates to me this weekend.

1) Through, Tasti released a press release, more formally encouraging new franchisers to help them build their 500-center franchise in five years. The release is in line with the franchising strategy previously discussed on Tasti D-Lited. The release focuses on the experience of the managerial team, the devotion of the consumers (like yours truly), and the health benefits. They continue to use "dessert your guilt" as a tagline. The release continues the build up for the flagship store in NYC, which is opening in the next few months. Tasti D-Lited is planning on getting there for opening day, but we'll see how the timing works out. On a more personal note, the new franchising plan has affected me quite greatly--the licensor of the New Haven location still hasn't decided whether or not to renew and thus still hasn't opened.

2) Tasti D-Lited officially isn't the only Tasti D-Lite blog online! Tasti D-Lite has started an official blog, which has minimal unimpressive content so far, but should be utilized more in the future. Interestingly, it's hosted on Xanga rather than on I'd imagine they'll make the switch over relatively soon, as they continue to rollout new features on their new website.

3) Speaking of new features on their website, you may notice some updates on We previously made fun of some of the silly images rotating on the homepage. The girl with the crazy eyes is still there (thank god!), but they replaced the out-of-place beach frolickers with an image of some whipped cream and a smoothie. Interesting to note the prominent placement of the relatively unpopular smoothies--I've yet to try one, but will now. This new smoothie emphasis is reflected in the updated Tasti Treats section as well. It is now broken into "classic d-lite menu," "smoothie d-lite menu," and "d-lite to go menu." The smoothie menu is the most interesting and includes Asian-inspired names for their smoothies and shakes. Sundaes are also featured.Tasti appears to be (smartly) diversifying its menu, beginning to take on Jamba Juice with this new menu. The To Go menu focuses on cakes and special treats, which is yet another branch off from the core frozen dessert offering. And, of course, the classic menu is the one we already know and love. In any case, it's increasingly interesting to see Tasti shape its strategy as it begins its quest to expand across the country. This first update is a good sign of things to come.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Tasti's #1, says Food Experts

There has been quite a dearth of posts on Tasti D-Lited lately, as our local store still hasn't reopened (it's been five months!!?? That is not a "season," folks!), but there's good news! We'll be in New York this summer and will certainly be making up for lost time.

And, in case you forgot just how good Tasti really is, food authors and HuffPo bloggers Jodi Lipper and Cerina Vincent ranked Tasti D-Lite as the best Frozen Yogurt (err... "frozen dessert") in the country. Tasti was followed at #2 by rival Pinkberry.

Of Tasti, they write:

Tasti D is pretty much our favorite place on earth, but unfortunately it's only available in certain parts of the country right now. (However, more of these gems will be popping up around the country soon, so stay tuned.) This stuff is incredibly delicious, has only 20 calories per ounce for most flavors, and is all natural! That means no crazy chemicals, so you can feel good about indulging in this stuff. Plus, it comes in literally hundreds of unique flavors like fluffernutter, cake batter, mudpie, cinnamon crunch, etc. We've found that Tasti D makes a great lunch when you add healthy toppings like almonds or granola, or a perfect snack when swirled on a cone with a few sprinkles. Just be careful about licking your cone while walking down the street - a few construction guys may notice.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

NEW IMAGE: Don't Feel Guilty. Please. Seriously.

The biggest change between the old, ugly website and the shiny, new one is the image Tasti is projecting. Cover up the ice cream scoop in the top left corner, and it's quite hard to tell if the site is for an ice cream change or a health-conscious spa and resort.

The central photo rotates between a determined woman stretching before a liberating work-out, two happy women laughing at a joke, and a young couple barefoot on the beach. All happy, all skinny, all young, all pretty. In addition to the (rather clever) tagline "dessert your guilt," the site features "refresh revive renew," "for your active lifestyle," and "your very own guiltless pleasure." The stock banner that runs throughout the site features kiwis, oranges, and blueberries. It's clear Tasti is branding itself as the place the trendy soccer mom stops between pilates and sushi. Is this necessarily the niche Tasti best fills? Perhaps--but it also might alienate a large portion of its potential base--namely, the entire male gender.

This new image (no matter how you look at it, an improvement on the scattered and shoddy feel Tasti formerly projecting) coupled with the expansion plans places Tasti in the Starbucks/Whole Foods type of brand--the chain that expands and expands, while still desperately holding on to the fresh, high quality feel so important to its customer base.

Be sure to check out the new site in its entirety.

The State of the Tasti:
1. New Website Reveals Big Plans
2. Expansion: Certainly Bigger, Possibly Better
3. New Image: Don't Feel Guilty. Please. Seriously.

Monday, March 10, 2008

EXPANSION: Certainly Bigger, Possibly Better

As the first report in a series about The State of the Tasti, Tasti D-Lited takes a look at Tasti's massive expansion and franchising plans.

What It Is

Tasti D-Lited likes to herald its small-town roots as the brainchild of one typical "New York Woman." But the company has taken a decidedly corporate turn (not that there's necessarily anything wrong with that). Last year, the company incorporated as Tasti D-Lite LLC after being acquired by a New York private equity firm, Snow Phipps Group, LLC. Jim Amos took over as CEO with his goal (which is proclaimed "a good one" in the updated History section of the website) to help Tasti extend its reach across the world as the number one "good-for-you" frozen dessert in the world. Amos recently published "The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Franchising" (Penguin)--but he does have good taste in Tasti--his favorite flavor is Peanut Butter.

Over the next five years, Tasti plans to open 500 "centers" mostly in the United States. The expansion will be headlined by two new "flagship" stores opening in Manhattan this year (Tasti D-Lited will try to cover these stores soon, obviously). Tasti is looking for owners to run all these new franchises, as "Own a Center" receives its own tab and a prominent location on the minimalist homepage. The tab introduces four options for potential owners: single-unit franchises, multiple-unit franchises, area developer franchises, and most intriguingly, international master franchises.

As for the investment for new owners, the request for information asks, "The initial investment for a single Tasti D-Lite center ranges from $229,670 to $433,350. Are you prepared to make an investment in this range?"

To give some perspective on the expansion, 500 shops would put Tasti right in line with the number of locations operated by Ben and Jerry's, make it bigger than Coldstone, but (way) smaller than TCBY.

What It Means

Essentially, this expansion is good for customers and bad for franchisers. On the most functional level, Tasti will be available in many more places, covering more states and streets. Not to mention, the increase in revenue theoretically means more funding for R&D and tasteology (as they call it) and thus a better product.

Current franchisers have been somewhat up in arms about the transition. This e-mail has been making the rounds among franchisers, bringing some of Amos' past transgressions into light. Apparently he's ruffled a few feathers in his past franchising and expansion endeavors, leading to lawsuits and alleged fraud. Not to mention that franchisers, who were used to dealing with small-time owners and individual attention, will have to get used to sharing Tasti's resources much more broadly. Of course, for aspiring franchisers, opening a Tasti location is now easier than ever. It will be interesting to see if this uprising of current franchisers manifests itself in any meaningful ways. E-mail with info.

What this expansion really means to us is still in doubt. All of us love the personalized and un-corporate feel of Tasti shops and certainly don't want it to turn into Starbucks. On the other hand, it's easy to understand that bringing Tasti to the masses requires more funding and more established management. Will these new flagship stores maintain the Tasti feel and environment? Or will it more mirror the new website--which maintains a Tasti feel, while making massive improvements--being more functional, easier-to-navigate, and slightly more professional looking. Only time will tell, but it is a risk most likely worth taking.

As always, we'll be keeping this angle in mind as the franchising plans develop.

The State of the Tasti:
1. New Website Reveals Big Plans
2. Expansion: Certainly Bigger, Possibly Better

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Tasti Launches New Website

Well, it was bound to happen eventually. As Tasti D-Lite prepares to embark on their quite extensive expansion plan, the stone-age website has been replaced by a sparkly, brand-spanking-new one. The update is much needed and a huge improvement. The new site includes a really sweet new favicon, a whole new layout, a new brand logo, a new tagline, and tons of new information. Not surprisingly, "own a franchise" is prominently located on the homepage. In any case, over the next week, we'll take a look at a lot of the new information more in-depth. We'll analyze the new brand image, the massive expansion plans, the history and nutrition. So keep checking back here over the next few weeks for The State of the Tasti series.

The main photo rotates between three options, but this was the clear one to screen cap. Look how crazy the girl on the left looks! No one wants to look like that! It looks like the magic Tasti chemicals finally got to her brain. Or a gun is being pointed at her head, and she's being told she'll be shot if she doesn't smile enthusiastically. Or she just has some mental issues...

Friday, January 11, 2008

Stealing from the Best

Cold and Tasti-free in Massachusetts today, some friends and I descended upon an original and high-brow establishment--"Truly Yogurt" in Wellesley. I was appalled to see the list of "soft serve" flavors--there's truly nothing delightful about this wannabe yogurt. Get your own fun, yet nonsensical abbreviation!