THE BANKGURT

West 4th Street &
Other Locations
November 6, 2013

 

KEYWORDS: YOGURTA HOLD ON ME

 

Dateline November 2013: New York City, a name once synonomous with crime, music, art, literature and sex is now known largely for the only two things that truly thrive: banks and yogurt. And then there are the cupcake shops, which are now considered “too edgy.”

Enter the Bankgurt, the only business guaranteed to thrive for the next three months. Every customer has a yogurt account where they will invest in the main flavors of yogurt: plain, chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla.

The Bankgurt is the vision of Tobias Tobias (not his given name), an artist living in Astoria, Queens who “didn't see getting into banking, but here I am. Mom will be so proud.” After having created paintings out of money and yogurt, Tobias developed an interest in hacking soft-serve machines.

Working on it for nights and weekends while managing to hold a job at a gourmet cupcake eatery, six months later Tobias had his first Automatic Yogurt Machine, or AYM.

“Initially I saw it as a kind of a protest art installation. It’s about how we’re afraid to create new things, about the high visibility of our financial institutions, and how we’re drowning in yogurt,” he told me. Indeed, the machine looked a lot different when it debuted at the Margie Hersh gallery in DUMBO. The flavors had names like “Safety”, “Comfort”, and “Blissfull Unawareness.” But then Yogurstrology approached him with the idea of making a less artsy thing, one that might actually make money.

Yogurstrology is a horoscope-themed yogurt brand from the Netherlands that is trying to make inroads into New York. Their blend of mysticism (each cup is an astrological sign, at the bottom is printed a fortune, ugh) and sweetness should be a sure bet for NYC. And yet . . .

“We were getting badly beaten by all the other yoghurts,” a rep told me with a disarming level of frankness. Almost as disarming as his ability to pronounce the “h” in yogurt, a spelling which I despise and which has nothing to do with the branding of Yogustrology. Seriously, his pronunciation was nothing short of alien.

“So we have a product that needs to move in bulk, but the prime locations were gone. We thought about a pop-up shop, but the idea of pop-up yoghurt is disgusting. Thank the stars we found Tobias.”

Of course if Yogurstrology were reading their star charts properly, they would have known the next twist in this particular story.

On West 4th, I was making a withdrawal from the ATMs of the international banking conglomerate that I fuel with my modest salary when instead of asking me for a receipt, the screen read:

WANT YOGURT Y/N?

I hit Y, scrolled through a menu of flavors and selected pistachio, and then I selected some coconut sprinkles. For a long time, nothing happened. And then a panel of my ATM opened and revealed a yogurty confection being drizzled into a paper Citibank cup, next to a receipt that stated my checking account was five dollars lighter. The yogurt itself was smooth and tart, although it had the faint scent of printed currency and didn't taste especially like pistachio.

It seems that while Yogurstrology is still as unpopular as ever, Citibank has bought the idea of the AYMs from them, and now we might expect to find AYMs all over the city. And say what you will about yogurt, at least it has culture, he said ending his review with a stupid pun.


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