Timeout New York : Red Mango and Pinkberry throw-yo down

Posted on 10 December, 2008  in Press

Time Out New York
Red Mango and Pinkberry throw-yo down
By Zach Feldman

When we heard that both Pinkberry and Red Mango were debuting pomegranate as a new flavor, we weren’t surprised at all couldn’t have been more surprised! How could two frozen-yogurt companies that serve essentially the same product to essentially the same clientele come up with the same new flavor for their rosters?

Red Mango CEO Daniel Kim explained the process behind selecting the fruit: “Pomegranate is more than a simple flavor; it symbolizes a lot of things…like healthy living.” Kim acknowledged that by joining forces with pomegranate peddler Pom Wonderful, they were building off of that company’s already recognizable brand as an arbiter of good health. Meanwhile, Todd Putnam, Pinkberry’s VP of marketing, noted that pomegranate was a natural conclusion, “given the popularity of pomegranate seeds [as a topping] that we’ve been doing for three years.”

Both companies swear to have come by the flavor honestly, but there’s a bit of crossfire as to who thought of it first. According to Kim, “Pinkberry has a ‘me too’ attitude, but we don’t pay them any mind.” He went on to say that Pinkberry moved up its release date by several weeks in an effort to float on the pomegranate trade winds. Putnam scoffed at the mention of rivalry: “I don’t even think about them; what we’re doing is completely different. We’ve been working on a pomegranate flavor for 12 months…and we get our yogurt mix from Italy.” PB also works the charity angle: For every pom yo purchased through the holiday season, the company will donate 25 cents to Food Bank for NYC.

Conflict aside, how do the fruity fro-yos stack up? For both taste samples, we ordered a small with dark-chocolate chips and pomegranate seeds (the combination recommended by both gentlemen). So, how did they fare?

Red Mango:
Red Mango’s offering was more creamy-sweet than tart, had a nice smoothness to it and left a bit of richness on the palate. The pom-on-pom interplay between yogurt and fresh seeds was necessary to get the full flavor profile of the fruit.

Pinkberry threw a lot of magic in our grill. Their slightly acidic product benefited from an off-the-menu booster shot of pomegranate juice concentrate (Putnam would not reveal the source of the juice).

Final judgment:
There were really only subtle differences between the two flavors. Red Mango had the more pleasing pomegranate quality; Pinkberry’s yogurt is already tart, so the addition of pomegranate juice made it almost pucker-inducing (it was saved by sweetness). But in the world of pomegranate frozen yogurt, there can be only one winner. And in this battle, Pinkberry takes the honors for little touches like that booster shot, an option of not one but three kinds of chocolate chips, and their nod to philanthropy.
Still, we’ll stick to our Chubby Hubby.—Zach Feldman