By Bob Wilhelmy 

Fifteen flavors, only one cup or cone. That’s part of the dilemma facing patrons at Rhino’s Frozen Yogurt & Soft Serve. There are more, and we’ll get to them momentarily. Though temperatures are erratic this time of year, the days are warming with the arrival of May in the Midwest. Warm weather drives people to seek out cold treats. 

For the Jewish community wanting kosher options for these treats, Rhino’s is a near perfect destination. All the soft-serve yogurt, ice cream, gelato, and sherbet are kosher. Also, many of the hundred or so add-ins are kosher as well. When we first began featuring Rhino’s in this column, some of the stories included Jewish patrons who were skeptical, questioning the validity of the kosher claim. After all, this type of soft serve treat had been off limits for them over a lifetime of experiences—simply a treat they could not enjoy if they were to maintain their commitment to kosher. Even kosher certification on the wall of Rhino’s was not enough for some, prompting calls to authorities who could verify. 

Today, the ever-efficient grapevine—and hopefully, Dining Out articles—have dispelled most of the doubts over kosher. We’ve seen Jewish kids in the Rhino’s self-serve area, gleefully enchanted with the whole process of choosing their treats. Really, watching the children, Jewish or not, who come into Rhino’s is worth the trip for me. They are elated to be there, enthusiastic, judicious, watchful of every move made by their friends, if they happen to be in a group. 

On my most recent visit to Rhino’s, Molly, a girl of perhaps seven, charmingly absent some teeth and having trouble with words featuring an “s” or two, was there with friends. Her mother watched over the children but let them make choices for themselves. After the choosing was over and the treats were weighed and paid for, the kids and the mom adjourned to a table outside and went to work on their choices. 

Molly provided a running commentary for the entire party: “Mom brings us. It’s much better than the whippy dip, cause you get to pick and you get to do everything by yourself. That’s neat! We like doing the handle (pulling the lever that dispenses the soft serve), cause its fun, but you have to be careful, cause it comes out fast. Then everybody gets to put lots of stuff on it. I like this raspberry stuff, and what are these?” she asked, learning that the add-on in question was Heath bar crunch. “They’re my favorites.”

Speaking of selecting the soft-serve, she said: “I did the middle one with the swirly thing and you get two (flavors) twisted together—see! It’s cookies and cream, and then fruity-blue cereal. It’s really good! Last time I got birthday cake batter and something else. That was good too, but I like this better,” she said, scooping away throughout her discourse on the experience.

Why a cup instead of a cone? “You get more. And stuff doesn’t fall off. If you just wanted the ice cream by itself, maybe I’d get a cone, but the stuff you put on top is the best part. And you get these cool spoons that change color when you eat the ice cream (her selection was yogurt, actually, but that did not seem to matter). They change back again when you get home. And if you eat something cold, they change again. It’s like magic!” All agreed, the feature of the changing spoon colors was part of the fun, which a cone-eater would miss altogether.

Cup or cone, when you go to Rhino’s, located inside the Shell gas station at Pfeiffer and Kenwood Roads, you will find 15 flavors in all. When I was there at the end of April, the selections included vanilla, zebra twist, and chocolate from dispenser number one; Valencia orange sherbet, mixed fruit swirl, and Dole whipped pineapple sherbet from dispenser number two; cookies ‘n cream, fruity blues swirl, and fruity blues cereal mix low-fat yogurt from dispenser number three; Strawberry sensations, strawberry twist, and birthday cake, all gelato choices from dispenser number four; and old-fashioned peanut butter, peanut butter cup, and chocolate low-fat yogurt from dispenser number five. Note that the flavors do change periodically, but there will always be gelato, sherbet, and vanilla and chocolate ice cream available.

Some but not all the kosher add-ins include cherries, cupcake bites, strawberry pie-style topping, Heath bar crunch, cheesecake bites, chocolate cookie dough, caramel truffles, Butterfingers crunch, snowcaps, buckeyes, and Reese’s peanut butter cups.

See you at Rhino’s Frozen Yogurt & Soft Serve!