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Can fro-yo dialogue ever exist without a reference to Pinkberry anymore? There's more to swirly creaminess than the controversial Korean chain, especially in the fro-yo motherland of So-Cali.

Here are my five top fro-yo shops without a Pinkberry in sight.

About the author: Erin Zimmer, our Washington, D.C., correspondent, is a new media analyst and frequently writes for Washingtonian, DCist, and other local publications. While Georgetown's food columnist, she investigated the cafeteria's omelet station, Hoya coffeeshop's cultish pumpkin muffins, and what exactly the basketball players ate.


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Golden Spoon

Address: 32411 Golden Lantern #S, Laguna Niguel, CA and multiple other locations
Phone: 949-248-4338
Website: goldenspoon.com
The white plastic spoon is far too pedestrian for this Cali-Nevada-Arizona-(and now one in Utah!) chain. They stay classy with gold, and equally rich yogurt. About eight to ten fat-free flavors rotate each day, usually with a token coffee, berry, classic vanilla, mint variation and a few chocolate types. During holiday seasons, they roll out the pumpkin or peppermint. Widespread, but always satisfying.

Yogurtland

Address: 501 N. State College Blvd, Fullerton, CA, and three other locations
Phone: 714-525-2912
Website: yogurt-land.com
The self-proclaimed Socal pioneer of DIY fro-yo. Yes, it’s true. You get to pull down the lever and decide when to stop. No countertop barrier either; they give you the wheel. Beyond the 16 fro-yo flavors, there’s a topping station with over thirty options like granola, Reeses and healthier, fruitier stuff. It’s weighed by the ounce (33 cents each), so it can add up. Once you reach the finish line, throw it onto the scale and some pimply high schooler will ring you up.

Yogurt World

Address: 4646 Convoy St #113, San Diego, CA
Phone: 858-268-1688
About a nickel more an ounce than Yogurtland, but it's the San Diego alternative. Asian influences are big here, like green coconut and green tea mochi flavors, with canned fruit toppings. Big college hangout.

Great American Yogurt

Address: 19073 Beach Blvd, Huntington Beach, CA
Phone: 714-841-5976
Website: greatamericanyogurt.com
Much like a great American novel, it’s about freedom and glory. The glory of frozen indulgence. It's another DIY type with a wall lined-up with fro-yo levers, many of which are diabetic-friendly. Nicknamed “GAY,” the family-owned shop isn’t a chain, but a comforting staple for Huntington locals surfer bums. Rotating flavors sometimes include Bavarian coffee and banana cream pie.

Bliss Natural Frozen Yogurt

Address: 2094 N Tustin St, Orange, CA
Phone: 714-279-9933
So when is fro-yo just as bad as ice cream? Sometimes it’s hard to tell. Tasti-D-Lite and other businesses like it have been knocked for disobeying the 10-cal-an-ounce promise. But the Bliss shop put “Natural” in its title to eliminate that fear. It’s non-fat and made from live active cultures, not a powder. Try mango with the yogurt chips topping.

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