Hwang's first business venture was to open a formal English teahouse on a tiny residential street called Huntley Drive in West Hollywood, California. However, after the city refused to approve a permit for Hwang and her business partner, architect Young Lee, they decided to go with their second plan, which was a frozen yogurt concept reviving the craze of the 1980s. People were soon driving across town and standing in line for up to 20 to 30 minutes to get their fix of "the taste that launched 1,000 parking tickets." The second store opened in September of 2006, and since then, stores have been springing up all over Southern California and also branches in New York. In 2009, Pinkberry will open its first overseas branch in the Kingdom of Bahrain at the Bahrain City Center shopping complex.
On October 16, 2007, the firm took in an $27.5M investment from Maveron, the venture fund founded by Starbucks founder Howard Schultz, to expand the firm's concept nationwide.Beginning in late 2007, Pinkberry began appearing in advertisements for American Express' new Plum Card, with Pinkberry and the card described by actress Lauren Graham in a voiceover. In an attempt to add an air of exclusivity to its new product, Amex claimed to create an initial run of only 10,000 of these cards.Pinkberry was issued card #1170.
On May 1, 2009, Pinkberry announced its plans to expand its market both internationally and domestically, after receiving $9 million in second-round funding from investors. As part of its plans, Pinkberry has partnered with M.H. Alshaya Co. to open stores in several countries in the Middle East and signed with HMSHost to open locations in airports nationwide, the first of which will open in the latesummer 2009.
Pinkberry's menu consists of Original, Green Tea, Pomegranate (introduced on November 11, 2008), Coffee (introduced in January 2008, for their third-year anniversary), Coconut and Passion Fruit (both introduced on June 26th, 2009) flavored frozen yogurt style desserts, in three sizes: Small (5 US fl oz (150 ml)), Medium (8 US fl oz (240 ml)), and Large (13 US fl oz (380 ml)). Other products offered include Shaved Ice, with fresh fruit or green tea, a fruit parfait (introduced on June 27th, 2009), and two types of smoothies. (Note that their "shaved ice" is not the same as the Hawaiian "shave ice.") Pinkberry dessert contains per 1/2 cup (120 ml) 70 calories (for Original), 90 calories (for Coffee), and 50 calories (for Green Tea), zero grams of fat, and 5 grams of sugar Fruit toppings, cut fresh on-site, include: strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, blackberry, banana, kiwi, mango, and pineapple. There are also a variety of dry toppings to choose from, including: almonds, carob chips, chestnuts, chocolate chips, Cap'n Crunch, Cocoa Pebbles, coconut shavings, cookies 'n cream, Fruity Pebbles, granola, mochi shaved milk chocolate, shaved white chocolate and yogurt chips. Three wet toppings were introduced June 26th, 2009: Italian caramel, honey and pomegranate juice. Pinkberry has introduced seasonal flavors like pomegranate seeds, lychee and Bing cherries for holiday and summer seasons. Due in part to their different approach to making frozen yogurt, there have been complaints that Pinkberry's food tastes sour and artificial.
A single serving of Pinkberry "Original Frozen Yogurt" is 1/2 cup. All offerings on the menu are larger than a single serving.
The following nutrition information applies to a half-cup of original Pinkberry frozen yogurt:
* Calories 70
* Total fat 0g
* Vitamin A 0%
Pinkberry's Original Frozen Yogurt is fat-free. The addition of toppings adds calories, sugar, and fat.
originated in Korea years before Pinkberry was created, with flavors such as pomegranate, blueberry, original, and green tea.
Some attribute the company's success to its appealing combination of low-sugar, low-fat cool dessert in a designer environment with Philippe Starck furniture and Le Klint lighting. A pastel color palette is used for the walls and natural pebbles line the floor. The official website is designed by LA-based design firm Ferroconcrete.
Originally marketed as frozen yogurt, Pinkberry has recently faced complaints that its product does not meet the California Department of Food and Agriculture's definition of frozen yogurt because it does not contain the necessary amount of bacterial cultures per ounce. The Los Angeles Times sent samples of Pinkberry's product to a lab and revealed that Pinkberry did contain active yogurt cultures, but it does not contain the minimum amount of culture to call itself frozen yogurt, according to California state law.According to the Los Angeles Times,
Pinkberry's product had only 69,000 bacterial cultures per gram, compared to 200,000 for Baskin-Robbins. The National Yogurt Association (NYA) established its own criteria for live and active culture yogurt. In order for manufacturers to carry their Live and Active Culture seal, refrigerated yogurt products must contain at least 100 million cultures per gram at the time of manufacture, and frozen yogurt products must contain 10 million cultures per gram at the time of manufacture. This level was based on a survey of leading research scientists involved in clinical studies of the health attributes associated with live and active culture yogurt.
Pinkberry appears to have altered its dessert recipe and has now earned the right to call its product real yogurt. Pinkberry officially received the Live and Active Cultures Seal from the National Yogurt Association on April 17, 2008, almost 3 years after the initial "real yogurt" lawsuit was filed.
The Pinkberry jingle heard on its Web site is sung by the '80s musician Tigra, from L'Trimm. Apparently in response to the recent lawsuit against Pinkberry claiming that its product is not "real yogurt," for a while Pinkberry had removed all lyrics to this jingle on its Web site except for the word "Pinkberry," which repeats over and over again at the chorus.The original jingle is now playing again on the Web site.
The unproven health benefits attributed to yogurt that were previously posted on the walls of Pinkberry have been removed.