Frank Hickingbotham, Georgia and Herren, too: fro yo royalty

then

then

and now

and now

“This is a story that should inspire all men and encourage their wives to go shopping, because you never know what can come of it.”

So says Georgia Hickingbotham, wife of Frank Hickingbotham, Founder, Chairman of the Board, and CEO of TCBY Enterprises, Inc.

To all of you tuning in, thank you for coming over to another Funny Names in Food Post. Please help yourself to Totino’s pizza rolls and Capri Sun juice pouches and we’ll move on with our story…

Those who know me know that I am a child of the ’80s and look back fondly at styles, music, etc of that decade. While shoulder pads, robin’s egg-blue eye shadow, and crazy big hair are now decidedly unhip, I have a special place in my heart for all of it. This includes the foods of these loud and colorful years: think pudding pops, Tab, and the subject of today’s post.

Thirty-plus years after TCBY came on the scene, frozen yogurt continues to be a big deal. But the new wave of self-serve yogurt bars, including Cherry Berry and its top-’till-you-drop brethren, owe everything to Mr. Hickingbotham and his self-professed shopaholic wife.

Back to Mrs. H’s quote, then. The story goes that she loved her some shopping and frequented an in-store frozen yogurt shop. Her husband sometimes accompanied and once sampled some of this beloved frozen treat. Mrs. H. shares hub’s reaction:

“‘Yogurt? Yuck! I hate yogurt.’ Finally, he agreed to take a bite. And with that, history was made. He said, ‘This can’t be yogurt!'”

Hickingbotham was so enamored by the fro yo that he traced its origins to Daniel Brackeen at his manufacturing facility in Dallas, Texas. Mr. and Mrs. H. wasted no time in convincing Brackeen to let them purchase and distribute his product.

This Can’t Be Yogurt! (later renamed The Country’s Best Yogurt) opened its first store in Little Rock, Arkansas in September 1981. Sales were $153.69 that first day and grew to $2466.46 by week’s end. By 1984, TCBY had grown to 100 stores; by 1987, 400. Clearly, the Hickingbothams had struck frozen gold.

An article in Chain Store Age sums up the early years:

The launch of TCBY was met by a very receptive public. The idea that yogurt could be as delicious as ice creamโ€”yet healthierโ€”was the panacea that America craved in the 1980s and early 1990s. TCBY grew via franchising to 1,000-plus stores, expanding the frozen-yogurt phenomenon with every new market opened.

Frank and Herren Hickingboth--jovial and rolling in the fro yo dough

Frank and Herren Hickingbotham–jovial and rolling in the fro yo dough

Sons Todd and Herren Hickingbotham were also involved in store management and Herren eventually took on the role of President. The company was sold to Mrs. Fields Famous Brands (yes, she of the cookies) in 2000 and is still kicking today. Its website boasts 350+ locations and crazy-fun flavors such as Indonesian Taro, German Lebkuchen, Japanese Black Sesame, and Brazilian Guanabana.

While parachute pants, boom boxes, and Cabbage Patch kids sit on the shelves of yesteryear, it’s still possible to get a taste of those ’80s when you visit a TCBY franchise. Now THAT’S bitchen!

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About Liz

Owner of deLizious Food Communications. Projects include recipe development, editing, and formatting; food writing and editing; nutrition analysis; public speaking and cooking instruction. Past and present clients: General Mills, Green Giant Fresh, Hormel, Minnesota Beef Council, Minnesota Soybean, Minnesota Pork Producers, Norwood Promotional Products, Pillsbury, Tad Ware, and Weight Watchers Publishing. Mother of two young girls.
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26 Responses to Frank Hickingbotham, Georgia and Herren, too: fro yo royalty

  1. wdydfae says:

    Liz, you put the Fun in Funny Names in Food. Or something.

    You know what I mean!

    Hey, you know Tab existed before the 80s, right?

    • Liz says:

      that’s the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me, diddy ๐Ÿ™‚ (the part about fun–which I’m all over, not the Tab part) Not sure when Tab went on store shelves, but I remember it as an ’80s thing. Probably wasn’t paying too much attention to popular culture in the ’70s. I bought a pack a month or so ago for nostalgia and it was gosh-awful. And I’m pretty sure the saccharin shortened my life span.

  2. kerbey says:

    You really have to make the effort to get all the syllables out: Herren Hickingbotham. Now is that Herren #1 or #2? Sorry, I’m thinking Darrens on Bewitched…

    Well, that’s truly one thing from the 80s that has continued to snowball. Here, we are SURROUNDED by fro-yo stores at every turn. Probably bc it’s over 100 degrees for six months each year. But when you weigh by toppings, it always costs too much. $8 is too much for a small froyo. Not to be a downer, but it was in my hometown that the yogurt shop murders took place when I was in college. But not at TCBY! I always want to say, “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Yogurt!”

    Unlike Kickingbottom, I still prefer good ol’ ice cream. Something about a semi-frozen treat spilling out of a spout like “poo” just turns my tummy, so that rules out froyo and anything Sonic. Down with soft-serve! Down with self-serve! I want a solid, hard clump of Jamocha Almond Fudge. In a banana split. Served by a clumsy, inept teen.

    • Liz says:

      How many times do I have to tell you not to use the word “poo” in Funny Names in Food posts, Kerbey? (And don’t you dare even try over at food for fun.) Though I’ll forgive you because of your clever Bewitched name-switch reference. Herren Hickingbotham makes me think of Thurston Howell the Third.

      There are plenty of fro yo shops her in chilly Minnesota as well and I try to abstain as we can burn through a lot of money, taking the kids. Who really needs that much yogurt and junk-food toppings? (no one actually uses the fruit toppings, do they?)

      ICBITN! would have been more letters than the simpler TCBY, saving them oodles of $$ on store signage. (those brain cells still work for me when I need them to ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

      OK, you’ve totally ruined my next food for fun post by hating on soft serve. lol, I’m making a batch today and will post tomorrow. Guess our Wonder Twin powers aren’t always in sync. I like me some Jamocha Almond Fudge as well, but soft serve wins my heart. Even if only because (I think) you can eat more for the same calories. And it’s so smooth and creamy. Do you not like malts for the same reason?

      • kerbey says:

        Yes, no malts! And no slushies! I prefer my frozen treats to hold their shape. Maybe I’ll say soft serve looks like a slithering snake, a sidewinder, a crafty reptile making S shapes in the sand. That’s better, right? I don’t want to make you sad.

        This will be happier. In the late 80s, my friend Hans worked at a yogurt shop and he would make me wonderful parfaits with Butterfinger topping and strawberries, and it was DEE-lightful. ๐Ÿ™‚

        • Liz says:

          that does sound DEE-lightful. Butterfinger topping especially. Now I am happier ๐Ÿ˜€

          p.s. I will finish all of your malts in the future, ok? You can have dibs on my hard-packed ice cream cones.

          • kerbey says:

            Okay. And we did have froyo a couple months ago at The Chunky Cow, but they went out of business. Wonder why…

          • Liz says:

            bahahahaha–that’s an awful name.

            We had a Curve’s (workout gym for the ladies–you have, too, yes?) in a strip mall recently replaced by a Cherry Berry. Enjoyed the irony.

            Fortunately, my Xperience Fitness nee Golds (right next to the recently departed Curves, contributing to its demise I’m sure) has yet to turn into a yogurt shop.

    • Liz says:

      did you call him Kickingbottom? (bahahahaha) sheesh–the things I miss when I read comments on my phone. My sympathies to the little boy somewhere who does have that last name ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

  3. Dave says:

    Herren Hickingbotham is one of the best names ever! A ton of great background info in this post too, and I know that knowledge of what TCBY stands for is going to be useful at some point in my life… the only question is when… ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Liz says:

      quite possibly today, Dave. My guess is that the Outerbridge Horseys and HHs of this world are all quite friendly and possibly play tennis, polo, and the like together.

      And yep, FNiF is all about the background. And food–feel free to grab more ‘za rolls on the way out. They just came out of the microwave so should be steamy hot enough to burn the inside of your mouth. Nom.

  4. ksbeth says:

    oh, poor herren hickingbotham. but at least he has all the frozen yogurt he can eat to make him feel better.

    • Liz says:

      that’s awesome, Beth–little Herren growing up with an unlimited supply of frozen yogurt. Fantastic. Am assuming Todd got in on the action, too, though they only would have taunted him for his last name.

  5. Arto says:

    Herren could perhaps introduce some herring flavored fro-yo and name it after himself. Sure to be a hit in Sweden and such.

    What a blast this one was. Great names, deliciousness, and shoulder pads all in one post. Gotta go buy some Lebkuchen froyo and watch Working Girl now to get in the mood properly.

    • Liz says:

      Working Girl–woo hoo! Classic.

      Only a Finnish man could have come up with that fantastico herring-flavored frozen yogurt suggestion. And the wordplay with Herren and Hickingbotham (or Kickingbottom as Kerbey has so eloquently called him) is brilliant just brilliant.

      How was the Lebkuchen flavor?

      Thanks, Arto ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. amb says:

    HI LIZ !!! THIS POST WAS DELICIOUS !!! I SWEAR I HAVEN’T COME ONLY FOR THE FRO YO !!!

    Look at me, being all shouty in all caps after being away for eons. I’m so sorry, my friend – it was the sugar. And the butterfinger and gilligan’s island references in earlier comments. All good things!

    What I meant to say was, hi. I love that I always learn things from your posts. And have reasons to say things like “Hickingbotham” ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Liz says:

      Is that you, amb? Really truly you? Thanks for happening by! ๐Ÿ˜€ It’s not the same without you and you’ve been missed. (last month was all about Peeps and you weren’t there–could hardly stand it and I had to console myself by eating all of the leftovers) Or maybe you were there? Was experiencing too much of a sugar rush to keep things straight. ??

      Glad the post put you in an all-caps mood. Hi back and this did seem to be an especially information-filled post. Hickingbotham Hickingbotham Hickingbotham.

    • Arto says:

      This comment really put the “hi” in Hickingbotham!

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  8. saucygander says:

    Frozen yoghurt has just taken over Sydney too, the only topping I really go for are pearls – those strange things that are liquid inside…it can’t be natural can it?? And it’s all thanks to Herren Hickingbotham!

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