Over the past few weeks, my husband, son, and I have been consuming, well, a bit too much frozen yogurt. But, truly, we were doing it as a public service.
Yogurt Castle (selections pictured above right) has been around for a while, at least since the 1980s, in its neo-Baroque brick structure at the corner of North California Boulevard and Bonanza Street. From what I remember, frozen yogurt was terribly popular in the late 1980s and early 1990s--with ice cream lovers latching onto that crazy idea that a non-fat vanilla fro-yo with Oreo cookie and M&M mix-ins was somehow healthier and less fattening.
Lots of fro-yo establishments have come and gone, but, in my recall of downtown Walnut Creek retail history, Yogurt Castle has remained. It has even survived the more recent era of deluxe ice cream mix-in establishments, such as our dearly departed Maggie Moo's.
Speaking of Maggie Moo's, its storefront on Locust Street in Plaza Escuela, has been taken over by the trendy Red Mango (pictured above left), whose poster boy is none other than Yul Kwon, the affable winner of the 2006 season of TV's Survivor. Kwon grew up in Walnut Creek, has become a health nut and proclaims Red Mango to be "literally the healthiest yogurt out there." The reason? As he says in this interview on Diablomag.com, "It's fat-free, it’s low calorie, it’s gluten-free, it’s kosher, it’s been certified by the National Yogurt Association as having live and active cultures (probiotics). ... Our yogurt is shipped from the dairy farm and its flash-frozen so it preserves the probiotics. It was the first yogurt that was certified with the live and active culture seal which means that it actually is real yogurt—and it takes good."
Have you tried Red Mango fro-yo? Do you think it tastes good? My husband likes it, especially the "original" flavor, which is Red Mango's version of vanilla. My son says the Red Mango "original," with all those live and active cultures, tastes a bit like blueberries. Both he and my my husband topped their originals with chocolate chips and oreo cookies.
Meanwhile, we've decided that Yogurt Castle, with its perhaps less healthy fro-yo, is the place to go if you really want something akin to soft-serve ice cream, if you really want something that is dessert, plain and simple.
And, pretty soon a new fro-yo operation will open a block away from Red Mango: Coco Swirl, which has a shop on Pleasant Hill's Crescent Drive. Coco Swirl is going into the space formerly occupied by Moonstruck Chocolates.