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Drew Harrington, left, and Amanda Klane met in kindergarten in Easton, Massachusetts and went on to found the Yasso brand of frozen Greek yogurt treats.
Company-provided photo.

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Yasso bars: addictive, in a good way

Yasso is the brainchild of Amanda Klane and Drew Harrington, friends who met in kindergarten and bonded over their love of sports. As adults, they saw the wave of Greek yogurt and sensed opportunity.

Most diets fail. Know why? Because you can only suffer so long, shunning carbohydrates and nibbling celery. The world drains of color, life loses savor, and you slip back into your bad old ways.

Not that I am suggesting that anybody diet, or try to be thin, or that being thin is better than being fat. Oh, no no no no. I’m not falling into that trap. Nowadays nothing is better than anything else, at least on the superficial level bruited about in newspaper columns, and this one does not engage in fat shaming or any other kind of shaming. It’s a free country, or was. Do what you want.

I want to be healthy. I lost weight a decade ago after being diagnosed with sleep apnea and unable to breathe at night without a mask, which I hated. The doctor, exasperated, finally let slip that if I lost 30 pounds, it might go away. I did, and it did.

My diet worked in part because I realized that I had to reward myself, to place daily metaphorical carrots to keep me eating real ones.

Credit two products:

One is Fresca. I drink one almost every day. It’s like a gin and tonic, only no gin. Or tonic. Or calories.

And the other?

Yasso bars.

Now reading the above, you have one of two reactions. Either, “God, I LOVE Yasso bars! I think I’ll have one right now.” Or “Heck, Neil, what’s a Yasso bar?”

Let me tell you.

Frozen yogurt on a stick in a variety of rich, indulgent flavors — chocolate brownie, pistachio, coffee chocolate chip and, the n’est plus ultra, chocolate chip cookie dough, all 100 calories each or thereabouts.

I ate three yesterday, but that’s an exception. Two is more typical.

Yasso’s “addictive (yet guilt free) products,” as Forbes accurately summarized, were introduced in 2011, the brainchild of Amanda Klane and Drew Harrington, two childhood friends who met in kindergarten in Easton, Massachusetts, and bonded over their love of sports.

As adults, they decided to go into business together. They saw the wave of Greek yogurt and sensed opportunity.

“In 2009, health and wellness were really becoming a focus for consumers,” said Harrington. “Greek yogurt was getting popular — Chobani, Fage. Organic and natural were disrupting categories, but dessert hadn’t been disrupted yet. We thought maybe we would merge the worlds with this indulgent product.”

“Being from New England, we love Ben and Jerry’s,” added Klane. “We had to make sure we balanced our sweetness — real sugar, Greek yogurt, a full, rounded flavor at only a hundred calories.”

The 100 calories part is important. One reason I wanted to talk to the pair was to ask: Was that difficult? You can find lower calories bars — cough cough, Enlightened bars — but they tend to be grainy and icy and have weird, off-flavor notes. Was it hard to stick the landing on calories while still offering something that tastes good?

“Definitely,” Klane said. “We actually started with lower calories but realized the product didn’t taste as good as it should; bumping it from 70 to 80 to 100 to improve taste, texture, mouthfeel. We spent a lot of time working on our formations.”

Don’t we all? Though adding a few calories to let the things taste good makes sense. For a dieter, 70 and 100 calories are pretty much the same, though the latter has almost 50 percent more stuff in it.

The name, by the way, derives from the Greek “Yasu,” a friendly greeting.

“A fun word,” said Klane.

I see the bars everywhere: Target, Costco, and asked the obvious question: Most entrepreneurs struggle for even a toehold in their markets. You surged from nothing to approaching iconic, next to Eskimo Pies and Drumsticks and Fudgsicles. How does that feel?

“It feels great,” Harrington said.

I suppose it would. Feeling great is what life is all about. Last week we swung by Margie’s Ice Cream, an outing rare enough that I tossed resolve to the wind and ordered the Hot Fudge Atomic Sundae (telling myself I was cutting back from the Jumbo Hot Fudge Atomic Sundae, which has a scoop more). As soon as I finished eating the thing, I did not feel great. Nor did I want another. Ever. That doesn’t happen after eating a Yasso bar. You are completely satisfied yet crave more.

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