Tasti D-Lite coming to Maryland
Tasti D-Lite, whose soft serve-style frozen desserts turned up on "Sex and the City" and in a New York Times expose, is expanding to Maryland.
Franchises are in the works for Bel Air, Severna Park and Chevy Chase or Bethesda, said Ben Pascal, who oversees development for the Franklin, Tenn.-based chain in Maryland, Washington and Delaware. An outlet is also coming to Washington's Dupont Circle.
All well and good, but what about Baltimore? Doesn't one of America's fattest cities (Men's Health puts us at No. 8) need a low-cal frozen dessert option?
"I have one very interested person [in Baltimore], if he can pull the financing together," Pascal told me. (Full disclosure: the expansion was first reported by Bmore media.)
Tasti sells a product that is billed as a low-cal, low-fat alternative to soft-serve ice cream. It is made with all-natural ingredients and is said to contain 70 to 100 calories per four-fluid-ounce serving.
Suspicious of even lower calorie claims, and perhaps inspired by a "Seinfeld" episode that had the characters gaining weight as they ate purportedly non-fat frozen yogurt, The New York Times had the stuff tested at Tasti and a similar chain, CremaLita, back in 2002.
"At two prominent chains, Tasti D-Lite and CremaLita, the soft-serve dessert has far more calories and often a higher fat," the paper found. "At CremaLita's Third Avenue branch, the small vanilla soft serve is advertised as having 60 calories in four fluid ounces. In fact, one small cup contained 153 calories. Tasti D-Lite advertises a 40-calorie, four-fluid-ounce product; testing of the smallest vanilla servings sold at various branches found as many as 224 calories."
Part of the problem was that serving sizes were "invariably" larger than four fluid ounces, the paper found. Wide variations in how much air was beaten into the product also contributed.
Here's what a company spokeswoman had to say about the Times' findings when I called:
"While these incidents occurred under Tasti D-Lite’s prior ownership, the fact is that a settlement was reached in which steps were taken to ensure that the product being served was consistent with any claims being made," she said. "In February 2007, a New York-based private equity firm acquired the company and converted it to a franchised format in early 2008. In converting Tasti D-Lite to a franchise, guidelines and training programs were further enhanced to help franchisees maintain the company’s product and nutritional standards."
Diet in a waffle cone. Photo courtesy of Tasti D-Lite