Warm Days, Cool Treats

Frozen yogurt eatery Red Mango offers healthy sweet desserts

Apr 13, 2010

For those unfamiliar with the new frozen yogurt craze in many urban areas, the first bite of frozen yogurt at Red Mango may leave your taste buds confused. Don’t expect it to taste like ice cream or custard, but rather, a literal translation of the term frozen yogurt.

The Dallas-based frozen yogurt chain, which touts its product as one that “really embraces healthy living,” opened its first Wisconsin store on State Street in late January.

Set against a glossy black storefront, Red Mango’s logo pops out at those passing by, enticing them to come in to try something new, different and healthy for them.

“What I saw in Madison was this frozen custard place,” says Red Mango CEO Dan Kim, referring to a popular local chain. “It was good, but I felt like I was going to get a heart attack after I ate it.”

Store manager Rachel Yang says Madison was an ideal location to open a new store where there’s a college-aged crowd and health-conscious population. What makes Red Mango’s frozen yogurt unique is its tart, yet creamy taste. Clocking in at just under one hundred calories for the smallest size, their yogurt is all-natural, nonfat, gluten-free and kosher. When paired with fruit and granola, the dish makes for a refreshing dessert.

According to Kim, Red Mango was the first frozen yogurt store to receive the Live & Active Cultures Seal, which means it meets the National Yogurt Association criteria for live and active yogurt with probiotics to help maintain a proper balance of good bacteria in the immune system.

Red Mango offers three flavors: original, tangomonium and POM pomegranate, and cocoa, a seasonal flavor. Curious customers can choose toppings ranging from Fruity Pebbles to granola to diced mango.

“People really just want to come in for the experience of it,” Yang says, adding that most new customers enjoy trying different and unique flavor and topping combinations.

As a customer who’s had similar tangy frozen yogurt, I went out on a limb and strayed from my usual order (original yogurt with mango and raspberries) and opted for cocoa with granola and Newman’s O’s (an organic Oreo-like cookie). My first bite was an unusual combination of tart and chocolaty.

When deciding what to throw into your frozen yogurt concoction, you can rest easy knowing that the fruit is chopped fresh each morning and eight to ten times a day, Yang says. In addition to yogurt, Red Mango also offers three probiotic iced teas: wildberry hibiscus, lemonade green and vanilla black, and smoothies made with any combination of frozen yogurt and toppings.

I enjoyed a smoothie with POM pomegranate frozen yogurt, blueberries and mangos. It was a filling but light treat.

With cool browns, soothing creams and red accents, the store certainly makes you feel like you’re in a hip, urban café in New York or San Francisco.

“The stores are really designed to engage all senses, whether it be touch or feel or what have you,” Kim says. “We think customers want a store environment where they can linger and rest with others.”

In a state like Wisconsin, where ice cream and cheese dominate the market, Kim is confident his brand will succeed and added they are aggressively franchising in the Midwest.

Whether you’re looking for a sweet dessert or refreshing smoothie, Red Mango is sure to leave a lasting impression on your senses.

Red Mango is located at 627 State St. Hours are Sun.–Thurs. 11a.m.–10p.m., Fri.–Sat. 11a.m.–midnight. redmangousa.com

Becky Vevea is an editorial intern with Madison Magazine.

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