Where Did All the Fro-Yo Go?

By Gia Bharadwaj and Annie Fisher

The 2010s were a decade characterized by pattern prints, chart-topping pop hits like Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe,” and frozen yogurt shops on nearly every block. From Pinkberry to Yogurtland, the fro-yo craze was unstoppable. Though the defining elements of the 2010s may have seemed permanent, the trend cycle demands that all fads must come to an end. Bold prints gave way to uniform colors. Pure pop music evolved and blended with other genres. And frozen yogurt has descended from wildly popular to a mere memory. So, what happened to frozen yogurt and the rest of the 2010s’ fads, and how do some trends die while others survive the ruthless cycle?

As its name suggests, the trend cycle, estimated by Forbes to repeat every 20 years, relies on the consistent collapse and return of trends across generations. So, trends from the 2010s swiftly faded as the decade neared its end, and frozen yogurt is a prime example. According to Restaurant Business, an established culinary magazine, Pinkberry closed 74 of its locations in the United States from 2014 to 2018. Within the next two years, the International Frozen Yogurt Association reports that 468 more U.S. frozen yogurt stores had shuttered their windows. “I remember getting frozen yogurt all the time when I was younger,” said Aoife Beswick ’24, adding that “I wish it hadn’t lost its popularity, and I wish we did what we liked instead of just following a cycle.” Beswick also expressed her concern that people are losing their individuality by blindly subscribing to pop culture.

To thoroughly investigate the influence of the trend cycle on the near disappearance of frozen yogurt, we conducted some high-stakes research. Tom Enselek, owner of Yogurt Beach in Newton, spoke to us about the rise and fall of frozen yogurt’s popularity in the past decade. While large chains such as the aforementioned Pinkberry struggled to keep their doors open toward the end of the 2010s, Yogurt Beach has remained an integral part of its community since 2014. Mr. Enselek shared that the store sees about 5,200 new young customers alone each season, its primary demographic being middle school-age kids. Highlighting Yogurt Beach’s success from the start is a framed Boston Globe article from 2014 on one of its walls praising the store for its laid back atmosphere and “cool servings of nostalgia.” 

So, what is Mr. Enselek’s secret? How has he outlasted some of the biggest names in the fro-yo business? For one, Mr. Enselek is a well-known and beloved member of his community, having been a Newton resident for over 30 years. With kids of his own and years of coaching local sports under his belt, he has become a friendly face around the neighborhood. After spending just a short time in the store, it was evident to us that Mr. Enselek was familiar with many of his customers and even knew several by name. He said of his close relationship with the regulars, “they know me, I’m established.” 

Unlike impersonal chain stores that lack connections to their customers, Yogurt Beach’s community-oriented nature has allowed it to survive the national demise of frozen yogurt. Posted on a bulletin board in the store is even a cheerful reminder that “Yogurt Beach is not a national franchise… we are a local, family owned business.” When it comes to maintaining business and outliving fads, Mr. Enselek’s familiar face and warm reputation give his establishment a serious advantage. 

The trend cycle might be able to control corporations on a larger scale, but we believe that passionate, local businesses ultimately transcend its influence. Watching countless friends and families walk through the doors of Yogurt Beach, we realized that frozen yogurt, and the rest of the 2010s, lives on in the places that matter. Moving forward, let’s ditch the trend cycle and stay true to ourselves and what we love. Our frozen yogurt tasted pretty amazing for a forgotten trend, and we will definitely be coming back for more.