Over the past two weeks, the frenzy over Menchies frozen yogurt has been going strong. On opening day, Saturday, April 21, I stepped into the shop complete with white walls covered in Menchies character decals, a large circular blackboard and a few tables and chairs with rounded edges.
Fixing my gaze to the back of the shop, there was a line of maybe 15 people who rounded the cashier kiosk in the middle of the shop. But every so often, when the line would shift, I saw glimpses of mini-signs placed above these frozen yogurt contraptions that said things including “Pineapple Dole Whip” and “Red Velvet Cake.” What kind of flavors are these? I had to know and could not wait to find out.
Once I had filled my cup with $5 worth of goodies — a pretty hefty cup — I sat in the smooth, slippery chair taking in my surroundings.
Children, college students and adults were caught up in the possibilities of frozen yogurt combinations and the myriad toppings to choose from. I see all these Bellinghamsters enjoying this shiny new frozen yogurt shop and think, “I wonder who’s at Mallards right now?”
A tale of two shops
During freshman year at Western, exploration of the campus and Bellingham was a common weekend practice. One of the most common things I was told by the Western veterans was “OMG! You have to go to Mallard!” And so I did.
Going to Mallard was nothing like any Baskin Robbins or Dairy Queen I had gone to before. Plastic ducks, board games and couches were around the vast ice cream shop.
When I walked to the counter toward the back, there was a huge wooden board hanging overhead with at least 25 different flavors etched on removable place cards. My mouth watered as all the flavor options were staring at me, and then my mouth went dry. Then, I see the sign that stops my taste buds in their tracks – “Cash Only.” I stepped out of line, grabbed my wallet and began to count my quarters to see if I could scrounge up enough for the $4 scoop of ice cream. Thankfully, I had $2 in change, and a friend could spot me for the rest.
I was even more thankful to have experienced such rich and creamy goodness like Mallard ice cream for my first time.
The battle begins
Menchies and Mallard. Different in approach, but similar in overall concept – feed the people frozen treats. Soon, the Menchies “Just Opened” sign will no longer be relevant, and Bellingham will have to choose which shop is better. Here is my perspective on the issue.
Mallard Ice Cream
After making sure I had some cash, I decided to visit Mallard first. Once it was my turn to choose my scoop, I asked what their most popular flavor was at the moment. “Mocha breve,” replied the women working the cashier. With a total of $4 and some change, I had to — again — ask my friend for some cash since I only had $4. As a girl who lives by her debit card, cash is not something I often have. Finally, I get my one scoop of mocha breve on a small waffle cone. Typically, I get rainbow sprinkles on my ice cream, but sprinkles were not a part of Mallard’s short toppings list.
Four friends and I sit down at a table near the large window that covers the front of the shop. I have mocha breve, one friend has avocado and carrot cheesecake, two others have bowls of carrot cheesecake and the last one has mint chocolate chip. My ice cream did not sell me at first; it was an acquired taste of coffee beans and creamy espresso foam.
I am a sucker for mocha ice cream, but the breve part was too much. The flavor tasted too much like a real cup of home-brewed coffee.
I did have the privilege of mooching a few licks and spoonfuls of the carrot cheesecake ice cream and verbally described it as “it tastes like orange” – not the fruit, but the color. It was delicious and I regret not getting it for myself.
In the end, I can say that Mallard is more of a Bellingham staple, but not necessarily the epitome of amazing ice cream. For the amount I spent there, I could have gotten a pint of Ben and Jerry’s. The ice cream is pretty good, but the cash-only policy and slightly disappointing mocha breve was kind of a letdown.
A few days later, it was time to go to Menchies. While Menchies serves frozen yogust and Mallard serves traditional ice cream, another difference between the two is Menchies is self-serve.
With three friends in tow, we encountered what looked like the manager while waiting in line to choose our frozen yogurt. I asked him what their most popular flavors were at the moment – since they change every day – and he told me cake batter and mud pie, which is a mocha and chocolate mixture. I swirled both flavors into my cup about half way.
Next was my favorite part: the toppings. Two spoonfuls of rainbow sprinkles, a dozen maraschino cherries and a few crumbles of Oreo cookie completed my colorful masterpiece. As an avid believer in fruit and dessert separation, I stayed away from the strawberry slices and kiwi cubes.
Another difference between Menchies and Mallard is that Mallard charges by scoop and Menchies charges by weight – you are in control of your destiny…I mean price of your frozen yogurt treat. My cup cost me about $5 – a little more than Mallard. I even got to use my debit card!
With my lime green baby spoon in hand, I dug into my creation. The contrast of mud pie to cake batter, and sprinkle to Oreo crumb kept my taste buds guessing what the next spoonful was going to deliver. I felt a sense of ownership for my frozen yogurt creation, and that made me enjoy it 10 times more than the cone passed over the counter at Mallard.