This is the land of the free and the home of the brave. If you're brave enough to mix cake batter-flavored frozen yogurt with pomegranate, peanut butter and bubble gum-flavored frozen yogurt, and top it all off with brownie bites, peaches, butterscotch syrup, crushed mint cookies, cold cereal and jelly beans, you're free to do so.
Want to add frozen custard or ice cream to the mix? It's possible.
Self-serve weigh-and-pay frozen dessert stores are all about customer choice.
"I thought it was kind of nice that I could pick how much I wanted, and nice that I could get as many flavors as I wanted, for just one price based on how much it weighed," said Kris Nelson of Plain City. "I liked that I was in control."
These trendy shops are a recent arrival to Utah.
"It really started about two years ago ... but a lot more locations started popping up within the last 12 to 18 months," said Bryan Hunsaker, who partnered with his wife Carolyn to build Frogurt frozen yogurt shops in Utah. "As is typical with most trends, it started in California. ... It's been going in California for about a little more than five years now."
Hunsaker, who was involved in traditional frozen yogurt shops in the 1980s, was impressed with the new concept.
"I realized that it would solve a lot of problems we had with portion control," he said, noting that not all employees fixed orders exactly the same size. "From a management perspective, I liked it better."
And many customers like it better, too.
"It affords the customer the opportunity to go into a food service establishment and literally pick and choose, including the size of the portion," said Michael Farr, president of Asael Farr and Sons Company. "It's not like when you go to a restaurant and then take what the chef sends out from the kitchen -- however much, with too much of what you don't like and too little of what you do like. ... The customer gets to choose."
Farr says the trend isn't limited to frozen yogurt.
"If you go back to New York, you see it in other food categories also --sandwich shops, salad and soup shops and even cereal shops," he said.
But frozen dessert shops are leading the way.
Customers choose the size cup they want to fill, and in many stores whether they want a waffle bowl, then step up to a wall of soft-serve frozen yogurt machines. Shops typically have 10 to 24 flavors to choose from at a time, with dozens of additional flavors rotated through the machines on a regular basis.
"We encourage patrons to tell us which flavors they like," said Gale Armstrong, whose family owns and runs Yo!gurt in North Ogden, adding that favorites are put in the rotation more often.
Most shops offer a selection of about 50 toppings. Choices run from cookie dough pieces to cold cereal, chopped candy bars and cake sprinkles. Healthy eaters can choose fresh fruit, nuts or granola. Syrups and whipped cream are also available.
When you're done filling your cup, put it on the scale and pay by the ounce.
The cost of freedom
Most local shops charge between 35 cents and 39 cents per ounce.
"I couldn't go completely nuts, because I was really conscious of the price," Nelson said.
It can add up, if you use the biggest cup and try a little of everything.
Armstrong said one customer complained about the final tally. "An elderly gentleman said the price was too high, and that he won't be back," he said.
Hunsaker counters that it's a good value.
"The cost is actually much less than at a traditional ice cream store -- about half price or less," he said, adding that a typical ice cream store sells its product for about 75 cents per ounce.
And some folks save money, because they're happy to just pay for a taste instead of a standard serving size.
There are a few California-based chains with stores in Utah, including Menchies Frozen Yogurt in Layton.
Most frozen yogurt places north of Salt Lake are Utah-based chains or independents.
Frogurt is headquartered in Draper, but has a store in Riverdale. Yogurt Stop, with shops in Syracuse and Bountiful, is also based in Utah. North Ogden's Yo!gurt, and Yogotogo in Kaysville, are family operations.
Asael Farr and Sons Company, an ice cream business born in Ogden, jumped into the craze with Farr's Fresh Ice Cream and Frozen Yogurt Cafes in South Ogden and Clinton, as well as other locations.
Michael Farr says the Farr's Fresh shops offer customers triple the choice with soft-serve ice cream and frozen custard, in addition to frozen yogurt.
"Not everybody wants frozen yogurt," he said. "We provide the entire family an option."
Pursuit of happiness
Yogurt Stop customer Carlo Patalinghug, of Syracuse, tries a new flavor or combination every visit.
Sheri Shibuya, of Layton, sticks with her favorites, and always tops them with just one thing -- Captain Crunch cereal.
Farr loves watching customers experience the freedom of choice for the first time. He was at the Clinton store when in came a family that was accustomed to Ogden's traditional-style Farr Better Ice Cream scoop shop.
"There was a little boy, probably 10 or 11 years old -- his mouth fell, and he opened his eyes as big as they can be. ... He said, 'Mom, it's a Farr's heaven,' " he remembered. "As dopey as it sounds, I got a little emotional. ... It's our goal to try to create an experience, and here was a little boy who was living the experience we'd been trying to create."
We found these shops in the Top of Utah.
* Farr's Fresh, 4013 Riverdale Road, South Ogden. Open noon-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, noon-11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; (801) 689-1226.
Also at 800 N. 1912 West, Clinton, open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, and 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 801-614-1211.
Sixteen flavor options at a time, including frozen yogurt, frozen custard and ice cream. Cost per ounce: 39 cents.
You can relax by the fireplace.
* Frogurt, 4197 Riverdale Road, Riverdale. Open 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 801-627-1248.
Sixteen flavor options at a time. Cost per ounce: 35 cents.
Large spaces, with couches and coffee tables. Live music Tuesday evenings.
* Menchie's, 765 W. Antelope Drive, Layton. Open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, and 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; (801) 416-8280.
Fourteen flavor options at a time. Cost per ounce: 39 cents.
In addition to frozen yogurt, the shop sells items featuring the logo of the California-based company, including yogurt-flavored lip balm and mascot dolls.
* Yogotogo, 240 N. 300 West, Kaysville. Open 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, and 9 a.m.-11 p.m. Fridays.
Ten flavors at a time. Cost per ounce: 39 cents.
In addition to frozen yogurt, the shop, run by a local family, sells Hot Yogolate. A portion of proceeds are donated to community causes.
* Yo!gurt, 428 E. 2600 North, North Ogden. Open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturdays. 801-782-1888.
Ten yogurt flavors at a time. Cost per ounce: 39 cents.
A family-run shop with a drawing board for kids and adults.
* Yogurt Stop, 1089 W. 1700 South, Syracuse. Open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 801-776-9029.
Also at 463 S. Main St., Bountiful, open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, and 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 801-295-5787.
Ten yogurt flavors available at a time. Cost per ounce: 35 cents.
Syracuse location has happy hour 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, when frozen yogurt is 20 cents per ounce.