It’s 2012, and Red Mango has heralded a new age for bacterially-fermented milk. If frozen yogurt were an indie musician, it’d be Gotye: three albums in and suddenly it’s omnipresent. The appeal is easy to understand as a comparison of the nutritional information available on Red Mango’s website to that on Cold Stone Creamery’s. Froyo has half the calories and drastically less fat than ice cream. Plus, as Red Mango’s websites, posters and staff will all be glad to tell you over and over, their yogurt contains live cultures that can help your digestion. In today’s increasingly-obese society, it’s tough to argue with these facts, so onward we march towards Bacillus coagulans domination.

If the area surrounding Stony Brook University is any indication, 2012 is the Year of the Yogurt. We’ve had a Red Mango off of 347 for a while now, but recently, two new animal-themed competitors have opened up near campus: Sweet Frog and Cool Monkey. Considering all of them are equally-priced, how is a student to navigate this brave and creamy new world? Fret not, Press readers! I have boldly stepped up and volunteered to do some investigative reporting and eat a lot of frozen yogurt so you don’t have to. Woodward and Bernstein, eat your hearts out. Or maybe just eat frozen yogurt.

[featured-img][/featured-img]Although I haven’t been there since August, Red Mango definitely sets the standard for froyo. It’s consistently delicious: a little tart, but still sweet, and available in plenty of flavors. If anything is clear about Red Mango, it’s that they really want us to think of them as healthy. There are many different types of fruit available in the toppings bar, and, as I mentioned, the company is constantly stressing those probiotics. This makes it easy to convince yourself that Red Mango is a meal and not just a dessert, even if you choose to cover your yogurt with cookies.

That’s hardly the case at Sweet Frog, the new yogurt place across from the railroad tracks. Here, there are no pretenses of health food, despite the low calorie and fat count. Sure, a Weight Watchers listing ranks Sweet Frog’s yogurt with roughly the same amount of calories as Red Mango’s, but it’s not as easy to claim that your combination of cookies and cream, mint cookie and cheesecake yogurts is a “lunch.” This is especially true if you, like me, covered it in Reese’s Pieces and cookie dough. After all, the fruit toppings at Sweet Frog looked a little gross, and were drastically-outnumbered by the types of candy, and the ratio of sweet yogurts to tart yogurts was similar. There also is no information on the presence or absence of probiotics. But if you accept that you’re eating a snack, you could do much worse than Sweet Frog. It’s pretty terrific.

Speaking of doing worse, there’s Cool Monkey, the yogurt equivalent of Scrappy-Doo. Like Scooby’s nephew, this independent yogurt store on 347 is definitely trying its best, but ultimately just reminds you how much you prefer your other choices. The staff is incredibly helpful and friendly, there are a lot of quirky toppings including rainbow cookies, and everyone loves monkeys. But this all falls apart when you actually eat their yogurt. I can only describe the yogurt I ate as tasting “fake,” and reminding me a little of metal. They do have good sorbet, but if you’re going to be riding this yogurt wave by eating sorbet, you’re missing out. As far as I’m concerned, froyo is worth the hype, so get out there and give all three a try. Both new locations present interesting twists to this never-ending craze, but Red Mango still takes the cake crumble topping.