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Between Coldstone, the Creamery, Happy Valley Freeze and Rita’s Italian Ice, Penn State is certainly not lacking in the cold dessert department. But, seeing as how this a health column and all, there is one establishment in particular that we just had to praise for miraculously merging delicious and guilt-free – Kiwi Yogurt.
We talked with one of the founders, Matt Mealey, to find out to secret behind the “fresh, flavorful, fun” frozen yogurt chain that’s satisfying sweet teeth throughout both Pennsylvania and New Jersey (their 12th store opens soon!). Here are some of the reasons why we’re going krazy about Kiwi Yogurt.
In June 2009, Matt (a Penn State alumnus) and his sister, Ryan Mealey (a Villanova grad), opened the first Kiwi store in Cherry Hill, N.J.
“We really thought frozen yogurt was a great thing because of the trend toward more healthy eating,” Matt says. “It’s a healthier option to other dessert alternatives, specifically ice cream.”
Not only have the sibling entrepreneurs incorporated nutrition into their professional lives, but Matt says they both try to maintain a healthy diet and regular exercise regimen, with Ryan even participating in competitions like Ironmans and triatholons.
In addition to being guilt-free, variety is another one of Kiwi’s strengths. Overall, the company produces more than 60 flavors of yogurt (you can check out the whole list at www.kiwifrozenyogurt.com), though the Penn State location offers about 16 at a time.
While the original tart is the only organic option, “most of our flavors are non fat or low fat,” Matt says.
As the company’s slogan proclaims, Kiwi prides itself on being fresh, flavorful and fun. And to make sure all that dairy stays that way, Kiwi maintains strict cleaning procedures.
“The yogurt has a shelf life, so a few days prior to the expiration date we clean out that machine so that we don’t take any chances,” Matt ensures.
If you thought 16 yogurt flavors was a lot, you’ll go “nuts” when you see all the toppings available – which include way more than nuts. From cheesecake to candy to fresh fruit (delivered about three days a week), Kiwi is topping central.
Speaking of fruit, “We’ve never had any frozen fruit,” Matt says. “[Fresh fruit’s] tough to get during the fall and winter months, but the benefit far outweighs the costs.”
He adds, “You can go the healthier route [with] granola, walnuts or peanuts and dark chocolate chips…or you can also get the cookie dough and brownies.”
Now, since this is Weighing In we’re obliged to advise: when it comes to the toppings, try to stick with moderation. Sure, dark chocolate chips might be better than cheesecake chunks, but not if you’re throwing in an entire cup of them!
Then again, it’s okay to go crazy with the brownie bits and chocolate syrup every now and then. This isn’t Willy Wonka – you won’t turn into a giant blueberry.
Matt says a big part of Kiwi’s success is the “ability to make and do whatever you want with your creation.”
Some of the suggested “kreations” include Crazy for Cake, a concoction of birthday cake yogurt topped with fudge brownies, rainbow sprinkles and chocolate fudge. The PSU White Out is a bit more fruity with Hawaiian coconut yogurt, coconut flakes, yogurt chips and marshmallow cream. Check out Kiwi’s website for more ideas or get “kreative” and make up your own!
As for the owners’ top pick, “Probably our favorite flavor now is the Seasalt Caramel Pretzel,” Matt says. “Ryan [also] really likes the Organic tart [but] I usually get a lot of different flavors and toppings.”
With all the delicious options, how could you not?
Photo by Brittany Trappe