Is Moberry Mo’ Better? Bozemama Thinks So
November 12, 2012
Posted By: Bozemama
If you ask Christy Hedegaard -- co-owner with her husband, Mike, of Bozeman’s Moberry yogurt shop – when business starting dropping off, she can pinpoint it on the calendar: It’s the day that the USwirl franchise opened. “We had our biggest numbers ever this spring,” she says sadly. “And then we dropped down to nothing.”
“Maybe this is what local businesses went through when WalMart and Costco opened,” Mike adds shrugging.
Haven’t heard of USwirl or Culture or even Moberry? Feeling out of the loop on the Bozeman FroYo wars? Well, let me fill you in. Because, while it may not exactly rank up there with the City of Bozeman’s Trails and Parks Bond in its effect on the community, this drama does have local health and economic repercussions of its own.
Plus, it’s a little bit about me. Full disclosure here: I am completely and unapologetically addicted to Moberry’s green tea yogurt topped with mochi and the all-natural chocolate sauce that Mike and Christy get from a place in Red Lodge. Yes, it’s true. When I get the craving, I will keep people (sometimes even my own children) waiting and drive miles out of my way to get my fix of this crazy creamy, refreshing concoction. I am so in love with Moberry’s green tea flavor that I want to marry it 3rd grade style and when Christy tells me it’s one of the least popular flavors, I’m actually a little bit offended, even somewhat panicky.
“You’re not going to get rid of it, are you?” I ask her, trying not to cry.
“Oh no,” she assures me with a smile. “The green tea people are fanatics.” I nod sympathetically and pretend like she’s not talking about me.
Anyway, that’s enough about moi. Let’s get back to the real issue: Health.
“What’s hurts the most,” Christy explains, “are the families who think they are getting the same thing from those other places as from us. And they’re not. Everybody thinks all frozen yogurt is created equal, but it’s not. Our price is more expensive, but we use fresh ingredients and they cost more than something mass-produced.
According to the Hedegaards, both USwirl and the recently opened Culture (which is located near campus and has taken the college student customers from Moberry) use something called YoCream to make their yogurt. It’s this stuff that comes in a vat, gets poured into the machines, is chilled to the proper temperature, and then swirled into your cup.
How does Moberry make their yogurt? With Nancy’s Organic Yogurt. If you want to see the ingredient list, all you need to do is ask. Christy brings over laminated copies, with the recipes for each flavor and the nutritional breakdown. Mike mixes the ingredients by hand with a whisk every 38 minutes to keep the ingredients from separating.
As for toppings: Yes, Moberry does offer Fruity Pebbles, Cap’n Crunch and Mochi (which is basically Japanese gummy candy made with rice) but they mostly have healthy options like fresh fruit and nuts.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I can understand the appeal of USwirl – and so can Mike and Christy – especially for kids. They carry flavors like cake batter and snicker doodle; you can pour it (and swirl it) yourself; the toppings include every candy known to man; and, in theory at least, it’s less expensive. USwirl charges based on weight, which is brilliant when you consider that they give you a 16-ounce cup which most kids fill. I think I paid $8 for a recent chocolate brownie gummy concoction my son made. He ate one-third of it – and then felt sick.
The other part of the story is this: “USwirl is a franchise,” Christy says. “Moberry is our life savings. We saved for 20 years while we were in the military – and here it is,” she sweeps her hand, gesturing to the clean and airy space that she and Mike care for diligently. The Hedegaards are MSU grads who moved back to Bozeman to start their dream business because they believed in our city’s commitment to buying local. Needless to say, they’re disappointed.
But they’re not delusional or inflexible; Mike and Christy want their customers to be happy and are always fine-tuning their recipes based on feedback. They also just sent out a survey to Bozemanites living within a mile radius of their store asking what they can do different and better.
“We know we need to make changes to keep up with the other two places in town,” Mike says. But we need your feedback. And so if you have one of our surveys, please fill it out and bring it in.”
The Hedegaards have also decided to go mobile with a traveling yogurt truck and are now doing catering at the urging of a very loyal customer who was desperate to have Moberry at her kid’s wedding.
Hmmmm . . . I wonder how much the Hedegaards would charge me to have their truck follow me around town with a bottomless supply of their green tea yogurt? I’ll keep you posted