Frozen Yogurt Is America’s Most Popular First Date Treat

Nothing says I love you like frozen yogurt.

Nothing says “I love you” like frozen yogurt.

Valentine’s Day is almost upon us, a holiday when we weigh the realities of our relationships, or lack thereof, against the manufactured experiences we’re told we should be having—an exercise that invariably makes us hate ourselves, our partners, and the way capitalism corrupts even the most intimate details of our lives.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

In the spirit of the holiday, we bring you this deeply depressing news: the most popular date treat in the United States is frozen yogurt, according to a survey from How About We.

Whatever happened to alcohol and sex? Apparently, such time-honored courtship rituals have gone the way of the dowry and the trousseau. Also, the consumption of dairy, fat, and worst of all—dairy fat.

How About We, which got this disheartening information by collecting data from one million first dates, discovered that frozen yogurt is not only the most popular first date treat, but that it is suggested three times more often than pie, the second most popular first date treat. (Shockingly, gluten-free scones and vegan donuts, though omnipresent in Brooklyn coffee shops, do not even chart.)

And lest you think New Jersey teenagers are somehow responsible for these results, in New York City the frozen slurry apparently accounts for 12 percent of all food-based dates, beating out every other food category. Don’t say we didn’t warn you, Manhattan.

Because there’s nothing sexier than moderation, a demonstrated ability to resist temptation and a cold, antiseptic space lit by fluorescent lights.

True, the frozen yogurt date may have its roots in the classic ice cream parlor date. But while there is something alluringly Rockwellian (and vaguely David Lynchian) about a couple co-mingling their saliva over a malted milkshake or a chocolate sundae, the swiveling of stools, the clink of metal on glass, we can’t imagine a plastic table, two waxed cardboard tubs and a pair of plastic spoons producing the same frisson.

When did drinking in a dimly-lit space while recounting the biographical details of one’s life to a stranger—one of the few ways that recounting the biographical details of one’s life to a stranger seems like it could conceivably be not only tolerable, but enjoyable—fall out fashion?

According to Adam Britten, the community manager at frozen yogurt behemoth 16 Handles whom How About We interviewed on the phenomenon, “frozen yogurt is less intimidating” than a bar and it’s “interactive” (those gummy bears don’t spoon themselves on top of the rainbow sprinkles!). Mr. Britten also notes that the shop plays a lot of good, popular music “so you still have all the fun elements of a bar, minus people bumping into you all the time.”

Well, all the fun elements of a bar minus the alcohol.

But one can be daring and embrace the spirit of danger even on this safest of dates: just try selecting from so many flavors and toppings! Will too many Oreo crumbles, or the decision to go with both gummy and chocolatey toppings, indicate indecisiveness, thereby nixing any hope of a relationship? (Don’t worry, Mr. Britten tells the dating site, the chain’s motto is to “flaunt your flavor,” and dating is about getting to know each other!)

Besides, while the anxiety of being thought too gluttonous or too prim in a frozen yogurt shop would not excite more adventurous suitors, it may well simulate the first stirrings of love in meeker hearts: a shortness of breathe, a vague nausea. (Added bonus: cold paper cups cool sweaty palms.) Indeed, the chain claims to have played host to at least three marriage proposals.

kvelsey@observer.com