Sweeter than you think
A review of less well know, but delicious dessert shops in downtown Iowa City
February 24, 2017
Never in our lives did we think we would go into a shop named Bubble Pop. Never once did we imagine ourselves sipping bubble tea and chewing on tapioca pearls, or staring at a forty dollar gummy bear. Did anyone even know those existed?? Well, it turns out they do, and they’re located right here in downtown Iowa City. Along with Yotopia, Orange Leaf, Coldstone, and Molly’s Cupcakes, there are other, more locally owned, desserts shops downtown that will pacify your sugar cravings.
Aspen Leaf is a small chain of frozen yogurt stores, with only five of these shops nationwide. One of these five is located in downtown Iowa City, near the Iowa City Public Library. Upon entering the store, we were surrounded by an explosion of color. The interior of the shop is filled with pastels. From the couches to the walls to the chairs, almost everything is tinted a warm, bright hue. We’re not the biggest fan of neons, but somehow, this shop made it work. The color scheme only added to the welcoming and family-like atmosphere. Aspen Leaf has a variety of different treats for purchase. Featuring Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, this frozen yogurt store also sells a variety of chocolate treats such as chocolate covered strawberries and caramel covered apples. The caramel helped balance the tartness of the apple, creating an almost perfect mix of sweet and sour. For each yogurt dispenser, there are three types of frozen yogurt. The flavors to the furthest left and right are individual flavors, while the middle flavor is a combination of each. For example, there are the flavors Straw Very Berry and Red Velvet, and the middle one is Strawberry Cupcake. We both thought this was a great and creative way to have two different flavors, creating the perfect combination of flavoring. You could taste the chocolate of the Chocolate Layer Cake frozen yogurt flavor without it being too overpowering or oversweet. We both really liked how you could choose your own toppings and how much frozen yogurt you chose to take. The customer can then decide exactly what they want their frozen yogurt to taste like and how much they have to pay since prices are based on the weight of the frozen yogurt. The only downside is that it’s hard for customers to know exactly how much they would end up paying in the end because they do not know exactly how many ounces their treat is before they pay. Regardless, we liked the flexibility of prices and that we had more of a say in the cost than we would otherwise.
Sweet and Treats:
Located in the Old Capital Mall, Sweet and Treats is a small candy shop known for rare and locally made candy and chocolate. Honestly, Anna had never heard of this shop before doing this project. She was surprised Iowa City even had a candy store. Entering the shop was quite a shock. They had candy from all over the world like Geisha Chocolate and EveryBurger. As we explored more of the store, we saw a surprising amount of different varieties of candy; ones we had never seen before or even knew existed. One example of this is a gummy pizza which is exactly what it sounds like. Sean purchased this unique treat and claimed it was life changing. He appreciated the variety of gummies and 10/10 would buy again. The environment felt a little chaotic, with the jellybean sculptures hanging from the ceiling and stacks upon stacks of candy littering the floors and tables. This was a little inconvenient for walking and felt a little crowded, but it also showcased the different candies well. One of Anna’s favorite things was the counter in the shop where the homemade chocolate and treats were. This just created a more local and nostalgic feel, and the shop was welcoming to everyone because there was also a sugar free section for anyone that applied to. Since there are so many different types of treats, prices vary anywhere from a two dollar chocolate bar to a forty dollar giant gummy bear weighing five-pounds.
Chances are, you’ve never heard of bubble tea; but this Taiwanese drink is making a popular appearance in America. Bubble Pop is a bubble tea shop in downtown Iowa City in the Old Capital Mall. The shop is a mix of American and Asian culture, most represented through the music played throughout the shop. We really enjoyed that although this was an Asian shop, the store played both American and Korean pop music, making it a good blend of culture. The atmosphere was just very welcoming in general. While the shop is rather small, it still managed to have a few tables with cards set out for customers to play. In this shop, customers have the choice of creating what bubble tea they want. They have options such as a water or milk based drink, flavor of drink, flavor of tapioca pearls or fruity jello. We both enjoyed our drinks even though we got different kinds. Anna got a liquid, milk based drink that was strawberry flavored with neutral flavored tapioca pearls. Sean got a frozen, milk based drink that was watermelon flavored with Passion Pop tapioca. The drink is similar to a watered down smoothie taste if you go with a milk and liquid based drink. Though this may sound unappealing, the drink is actually very delicious and the tapioca pearls are squishy balls that you can chew on while drinking. We both appreciated that the tapioca pearls weren’t distracting from the drink. Even though Sean got a fruit flavored drink with fruit flavored tapioca pearls, the taste wasn’t overwhelming. However, one downside to this shop are the store hours. The shop is only open about seven hours a day Monday through Friday from 11 am to about 6 pm, and 12 pm to 5 pm on Saturday. The shop is closed all day on Sunday.
Cookies & More:
Cookies & More showcases a variety of different cookies like chocolate chip and monster cookies. We really appreciated how you could see the cookies being baked and how you knew the cookies were fresh and made from scratch. Each cookie was only $1.60, so not expensive at all. There were no chairs of the store’s own, only a place where you could buy cookies, but the shop was located across from an area with multiple tables so finding seating was not too much of a problem. The chocolate chip cookies were excellent and soft to eat, not too hard and crunchy. We also thought the cashier was very nice. She was interacting with all the customers that came along which made everyone feel welcomed that came. There was also a special section for Valentine cookies since Valentine’s Day was approaching showing how they made cookies for the holidays and special occasions, enticing you to come back more and more.
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