Yogurt Revolution Hits Chicago

Berry Chill

It seems as though the chilled yogurt and smoothie trend has finally hit Chicago. After years of reading about celebrities visiting California-based Pink Berry in the tabloids, Chicago finally has its share of yogurt shops all boasting products with live active cultures.

I stayed away until today, mainly because most of the stores are located downtown and every time I pass one the line is out the door. This afternoon as I was walking home in the sticky humidity I decided to stop at Berry Chill at State and Ontario, the first of at least three planned stores in the area.

The store itself is very sleek with flat-screen TVs along one wall, and a digital menu board that was constantly scrolling. While a cutting-edge display, I found it frustrating to follow as a first-time visitor because the options were changing so quickly that I couldn’t get a good grasp on how and what to order. Luckily, the employee taking my order was patient and tried to be helpful despite the annoyed sighs of the customer behind me. Also, there seemed to be three times as many employees as necessary and most were just standing behind the counter not actually doing anything.

The options were either a cup in three sizes (5, 8, and 12 ounces), or a smoothie (called a blender or blast) in small or large. They also had three different flavors of yogurt: original, which is offered everyday; and chocolate and peach-mango which are specials. There were also a lot of choices in toppings but I didn’t get to see them all because the screen kept changing, and you have to pick them when you order which is before you reach the display part of the counter. I do know they source some of their toppings locally, including granola from Milk & Honey.

I chose a cup of chocolate that came with three toppings - Girl Scout Thin Mint, strawberries and blueberries – and cost nearly $6. Overall I enjoyed the treat. The yogurt was tangy and almost reminds me of sheep’s milk yogurt except that it has more of a fruity taste and is not quit as tart. The texture is smooth but seemed especially cold. It was interesting, though, how subtle the chocolate flavoring was. It really didn’t taste all that different from the original as it had the same tang and fruit characteristics.

The most pleasant surprise was the claim that their yogurt is lactose-free. So, deciding to trust the folks at Berry Chill I did not take a lactaid as I normally would. The jury is still out on that decision…

Berry Chill also claims nutritional benefits to its yogurt. Aside from containing “live active cultures” (by the way, isn’t that the same claim made by Jamie Lee Curtis on those Activia commercials?), on its website they write: “Numerous studies have shown the benefits of yogurt, including increased metabolism, boosted immune response, lowered LDL (bad) cholesterol, and raised HDL (good) cholesterol.”

I’ll also add this, Berry Chill can definitely be a low-fat, low-cal treat if you don’t get carried away with some of the unhealthy toppings: 1 ounce of original flavor contains 20 calories, 0 grams fat, 4 grams carbohydrates and 1 gram protein.

One last random observation: the blue plastic spoons used at Berry Chill are temperature sensative and change colors when in the yogurt.

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  • Barryj posted: 04 Aug at 12:18 am

    Jackie,

    My friend Muzz is very good friends with the guy that owns Berry Chill… I personally was not very impressed when I had it – guess I’m not as big a fan of sheep’s milk yogurt as you are

    Barry

  • Jackie posted: 04 Aug at 9:37 am

    I don’t know if this yogurt is made from sheep or cows milk but it does have a tanginess that is common in Greek yogurt (traditionally made from sheep’s milk). While I did enjoy the yogurt at Berry Chill, I thought the price was steep for the product.


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