The Daily Illini

Orange Leaf: A dessert lover’s dream come true

By Annabeth Carlson

I’d like to make a confession: I have a small dessert problem.

Actually, it’s not that small. It’s an “I-can’t-survive-a-single-day-without-it” kind of problem. To me, a meal is just not complete without a sweet treat at the end. Whether it is cake, ice cream, cupcakes, brownies or pie — I don’t discriminate.

But my absolute biggest weakness is frozen yogurt. The fact that you can fill up your cup with as much and as many flavors and toppings as you want is a dessert lover’s dream come true. So naturally, when I learned that a new frozen yogurt establishment called Orange Leaf opened on Green Street on Oct. 4, I had to check it out right away. 

The Experience

When I step through the doors to Orange Leaf, I find myself surrounded by shimmery orange tiles, glowing green walls and modern white and orange furniture. A group of four students crowd together on one of the couches, eating their frozen yogurt with the establishment’s orange shovel-shaped spoons. The bright décor seems like something out of Willy Wonka’s factory, and it instantly puts me in a hungry and happy mood. 

Creating an appealing and happy place for students was the goal of franchise co-owners and Bloomington, Ill., residents, Balaji Ramachandran and Narendhar Ramalingam, according to Ramachandran. He also said that they offer Wi-Fi so students can work and relax.

The back of the store is where it all begins. There is a counter with two different frozen yogurt cup sizes, small and large, cups for smoothies and dividers that can be inserted in the cups so flavors do not mix. A worker wearing an orange apron stands close by with sample cups for customers.

Right away, I was drawn to the flavors “Spice Up Your Life Pumpkin Pie,” “The Dynamic Duo Chocolate Salted Caramel” and “100% Corner Pieces Birthday Cake” (what cute names, right?). This is because they are some of my favorite desserts. Sometimes I find frozen yogurt to be more icy and thinner in comparison to regular ice cream, but I was interested to find that these flavors taste rich and are creamy in texture.

The reason behind this is that Orange Leaf makes its yogurt daily in the store using real ingredients. 

For example, shift leader Alyssa Machinis, senior in Media, said that the “Spoon-In-The-Jar Good Peanut Butter” has real peanut butter in it and the “You’ll Go Monkeys Banana” has actual banana in it. 

In addition, Jeremy Kelley, manager of the store, explained that all of the yogurt options are gluten-free and some are low-fat, fat-free and sugar-free. 

I was also highly impressed by the toppings bar. It includes granola, cereal and fruit for the more health-conscious and a multitude of candies, cookies and chocolate-y options for sugar addicts like yours truly. I especially enjoy the miniature cookie dough and birthday cake bites, as well as strawberries and sour gummy worms. Often I avoid fruit at frozen yogurt places because it looks like it has been sitting out a while, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that the toppings bar appears very clean and the fruit looks like it had just been set out.

Ramachandran said as of right now, he recommends “Melt In Your Mouth Cinnamon Roll” with the topping “popping bobas,” which are tiny pearl-shaped candies filled with fruit juice.

However, one problem that Orange Leaf and many frozen yogurt places in general have had is the lack of customer’s portion control. With large cup sizes and dividers, it can be hard to measure how much frozen yogurt you are getting. Also, the cups are weighed to determine the price, which can really add up. During my trip, I observed a man purchasing $8 worth of frozen yogurt. For dessert lovers like myself, this could become an expensive habit.

The Bottom Line

With its cheery environment, free Wi-Fi, fresh-made yogurt and a variety of both healthy and unhealthy toppings, Orange Leaf is the sweetest new destination on campus.

Oh, and remember when I said I had a “dessert problem”? Is that really a problem?

After all, life is too short to not enjoy the things you love, especially with a place like Orange Leaf right around the corner. So fill up your cup.

Annabeth is sophomore in Media. She can be reached at [email protected]

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