Demi Lovato-Bigg Chill feud gives us an excuse to celebrate L.A.'s punniest fro-yo shops

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Lucas Kwan Peterson
·6 min read
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ECHO PARK, CA - APRIL 24: Lavender blossom frozen yogurt at Yoga-urt on Saturday, April 24, 2021 in the ECHO PARK mirhgborhood os Los Angeles, CA. This is a new soft serve concept that offers a healthier soft serve / frozen yogurt made fresh daily.(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
Lavender blossom is one of the rotating flavors at Yoga-urt, with locations in Glendale and Echo Park. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Is it just the nature of the business? Or that the owners are just particularly ... cultured? There’s something about frozen yogurt shops (along with pho restaurants) that makes them particularly prone to funny, punny names. Here’s a less-than-exhaustive list of L.A.’s punniest frozen yogurt shops as well as a few tips on what to order:

Humphrey Yogart

Humphrey Yogart was in the news recently when Meghan Markle told Oprah that she worked there as a teenager. Makes sense to me, because this place is certainly yogurt royalty and makes me wish there could be an entire line of fro-yo stores dedicated to riffs on the names of old-timey actors: Rita Whey-worth or Dairy Pickford. When I used to live in the Valley, I remember the business occupying its own space in a Sherman Oaks strip mall. It’s now been relegated to operating inside a Gelson’s, which isn’t ideal but still does the trick.

A swirl of raspberry frozen yogurt from Humphrey Yogart with multicolored sprinkles.
Tart raspberry fro-yo with sprinkles at Humphrey Yogart, where one of the menu items is a shake called the Maltese Humphrey. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

The service when I visited last week was top-notch; the yogurt was also very good. I ordered the daily special: sweet vanilla nonfat yogart (yes, they call it “yogart” on the menu; I appreciate the commitment) with espresso and Heath bar toppings, as well as the punniest item on their menu, a shake called the Maltese Humphrey. You’d have to think it’s just a matter of time until they dedicate something on the menu to Meghan — maybe renaming their sprinkles “Markles”?

The menu includes options with lower sugar content so you can truly say “A Farewell to Carbs” as the yogurt swirl emerges down from “The Fountainhead” of the machine (both starring the inimitable Gary Scooper, of course). Pun rating: 10/10

4520 Van Nuys Blvd., Sherman Oaks; (818) 906-2490; humphreyyogart.com

N’ice Cream

This is a very serviceable beach-adjacent option on the backside of the Runway Playa Vista shopping mall. While the name may not win any pun contests — it’s up there with “Brozen Yogurt,” which is what I thought I’d call a fro-yo place if I opened one with my younger brother — N’ice Cream wins points with a selection of preselected topping combos with creative names.

A swirl from N'ice Cream in Playa Vista.
A swirl from N'ice Cream in Playa Vista. (Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

I tried the Milly Vanilly — very much a top-tier name — with vanilla custard (not yogurt) , white and regular chocolate chips and a crunchy chocolate magic shell. I also had a Billie Eilish-themed combo that featured matcha green tea yogilato with crushed graham crackers and marshmallow sauce (a substitution when they ran out of condensed milk). Good service, good experience, would visit again. Pun rating: 6/10

12746 W. Jefferson Blvd., Los Angeles; (424) 228-4873; nicecreampv.com

The Bigg Chill

I don’t like the fact that I had to spend time looking up “demi lovato yogurt shop” to learn about an inane online feud between the singer and former "Barney & Friends" actress and a Westside fro-yo business, but I did, and I can’t take that back now. The tl;dr is: Lovato slammed the shop for encouraging eating disorders by promoting “diet foods” but then stepped it back. The yogurt shop has come out of this looking decidedly better than Lovato, who has apologized.

A cup holds a swirl of white frozen yogurt with multicolored sprinkles from the Bigg Chill.
Frozen yogurt from West Los Angeles' Bigg Chill, where the main pun is the movie title it riffs on. (Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

But let’s get to what’s really important here: the quality of the pun. The name Bigg Chill works decently as a pun but is an even better homage. You have to be old enough to appreciate the 1983 movie “The Big Chill,” one of the true quintessential boomer coming-of-age flicks; Kevin Kline, Glenn Close and Jeff Goldblum starred. Do you have parents who were born between 1946 and ’64? They definitely own the soundtrack. On LP. I’d be willing to put money on it.

The decor is fun — neon signs, a glass-block counter and general sock-hop vibe. As for the yogurt, it’s very good. The Chill Berry plain flavor is pleasingly tart and went well with fresh blueberries and strawberries. Cash only. Pun rating: 8/10

10850 W. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles; (310) 475-1070; thebiggchill.com

Cantaloop Frozen Yogurt

I like the riff on cantaloupe in this Hollywood shop’s name, even though I’m not exactly sure how it relates to yogurt. (Free idea, though: I would offer Cantaloupe — as in, can't elope — as a possible name for a Vegas wedding chapel somewhere off-Strip.) This shop offers food and drink beyond mere fro-yo, including boba tea, slushies and something called a waffle dog.

A serve-yourself swirl from Cantaloop topped with coated chocolate candy.
A serve-yourself swirl from Cantaloop Frozen Yogurt. Though what does cantaloupe have to do with fro-yo? (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Although the other shops I visited don’t currently allow self-service, Cantaloop does. Once handed a plastic glove and a cup, you can dispense Orange Splash, Dutch Chocolate or Raspberry Lime Mojito to your heart’s content — after which you pay by the weight.

I got Orange Splash mixed with the standard Pinkberry-esque original tart flavor. It was decent but not on the level of the other shops I tried. The toppings — I got mochi and lychees — tasted a little old, like they’d been sitting out. Pun rating: 7/10

7095 Hollywood Blvd. No. 106, Los Angeles; (323) 874-0886; yelp.com/biz/cantaloop-frozen-yogurt-los-angeles

Yoga-urt

Believe it or nut, this shop, with locations in Echo Park and Glendale, is vegan and dairy-free. The soft serve at Yoga-urt is made with almonds and cashews, allowing even the most lactose-intolerant among us to indulge. The name of the business is obviously punny, riffing on the ancient Indian practice of yoga.

A soft-serve swirl at Yoga-urt topped with lavender-colored sprinkles.
The soft-serve at Yoga-urt is vegan and dairy free. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

The soft serve (which is not yogurt, the business’s website explains, as that implies the presence of dairy) had six flavors when I visited. I opted for a Chocolate Bliss as well as Peanut Butter Prana. The chocolate left a slight chemical aftertaste, but the peanut butter was excellent — as one might expect from a nut-based product, it was both rich and creamy. Pun rating: 7/10

2211 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, (213) 318-5500; 1407 W. Kenneth Road., Glendale, (818) 545-3880, yoga-urt.com

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.