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Is Pinkberry Fakeberry?

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Call it overpriced. Call it overrated. Call it crappy, sour-priced crud. But call it deceptive? Bryan Williams thinks so, and that's why the West Hollywood "legal recruiter" is suing Pinkberry, the newest craze in frozen dessert treats.

Williams' lawsuit does not ask for punitive damages. He simply wants the wildly successful yogurt chain to tone down its claims that the product is frozen yogurt.

A statement from a California Department of Food and Agriculture spokesman seems to back him up. "You can't call a product frozen yogurt unless it's mixed off-site and delivered to the site as frozen yogurt," says Steve Lyle. If this is true, doesn't it apply equally to all frozen yogurt purveyors and not only Pinkberry?

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Personally, I hate Pinkberry. I think it tastes disgusting and sour and gross, but that's merely a matter of personal taste. What can't be denied is the way this chemically concocted product is marketed as a "healthy" "all natural" treat, when it is in fact made from powdered milk, chemicals, flavoring agents and sugar.

The most interesting aspect of Pinkberry's success is how it proves that when you slap terms like "natural," "low calorie," "no fat" and "sugar free" onto any food product, a nation of people who probably can't answer yes to the question Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader will think that crap is healthy. Your average scoop of gelato or high-end ice cream -- the kind made only from milk and ingredients like genuine fruit/chocolate/nuts/etc. -- is a hell of a lot more natural!


Frozen or otherwise, real yogurt -- a dairy product produced by the bacterial fermentation of milk -- bears little resemblance to the sweetened, frozen ice milk that Pinkberry is pimping.

For a funny filmic tie-in, check out the 1985 film The Stuff, a movie about an addictive, yogurt-like goo that Americans literally eat up without realizing that it is taking over their brains and turning them into zombies. Written and directed by the great Larry Cohen, The Stuff is most obviously a metaphor for cocaine. But given Crackberry's rabid devotees -- lines often stretch out the door and around the door at Pinkberry's flagship WeHo locale -- the film looks eerily prescient.

The underlying message of The Stuff seems as apt today as it did in 1985: the products may change, but the will of people to be deceived by them never does.

Pinkberry photo by Ned Raggett