Tasti D-Lite takes Nashville by low-fat storm

Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 11:45pm
You don't have to feel guilty digging your spoon into this low cal, low sugar, low fat soft serve treat.

Tasti D-Lite has arrived.

New Yorkers now living in Nashville can rejoice.

Last week, the low-fat, low-carb, low-sugar, low-everything-that’s-bad-for-you dairy-based soft serve frozen dessert — which got its start in Manhattan 22 years ago and has been made famous on Sex and the City and The Apprentice and by various starlets — debuted from its home at the bustling intersection of Elliston Place and West End Avenue.

Though the company moved its headquarters from NYC to Franklin in 2007, the Vanderbilt-area shop was a long time in coming.

“I was thrilled,” said Jennifer Williams, a former resident of New York City’s Upper East Side, when asked her reaction to learning of Tasti D’s Nashville arrival.

Williams and her 3-year-old daughter Alexa were among the many customers who converged on the sweet shop for Day 1 of business. They were not disappointed.

“Alexa first had Tasti D when she was 1,” said a smiling Williams, nodding at the precious blond tot, her mouth covered in chocolate.

If you crave ice cream but fear a clogged-artery-induced myocardial infarction due to excessive consumption of the cholesterol-laden treat, Tasti D offers an almost radical alternative. For example, a four-ounce serving of Tasti D-Lite contains a mere 1.5 grams of fat, no more than 14 grams of carbs, between 80 and 100 calories, and between three and six grams of sugar. Conventional ice cream doubles those figures. With such a flavorful treat that is only modestly non-nutritious, the company’s “Dessert Your Guilt” slogan seems reasonable.

And on the slogan theme, Tasti D’s serves the catchy one-liners, via signs and a video screen, as skillfully as it does its milkshakes, smoothies and sundaes.

“Remember, you don’t have to be famous to enjoy Tasti,” says Heidi Klum.

“D-Lite is for everybody,” chirps the petite Mary-Kate Olsen, who likely could spend 20 days heartily consuming Cincinnati ice cream fave Graeter’s and never gain a pound.

“Making New York more beautiful for more than 20 years,” reads one sign, while another counters, almost in a risqué manner, with “Never get between me and my Tasti.”

You can bet a butterscotch mania-flavored Tasti D smoothie that the young, beautiful and healthy relate to this progressive-themed product.

Upon hearing Nashville was landing a Tasti D shop, pop princess Taylor Swift Twittered the following tweet: “We’re getting a Tasti D-Lite in Nashville! YES!! Moving up in the world.” In theory, about 870,000 fans took note.

Justin Mooneyhan, the new Tasti’s store manager, said response has been overwhelming. The store set a company record for first-day sales (company officials declined to reveal revenues), as fans packed the pink-themed sweet palace.

“Starting about two and a half weeks ago, we had over 100 people each day calling or coming by,” Mooneyhan said.

On the night of Tasti D-Lite’s unveiling, this writer observed more than 150 customers eagerly entering the space (last home to a photo-processing business). Of note, most were fairly fit, verifying the company’s successful marketing to health-conscious consumers with, for example, its “super-fruit anti-oxidant smoothies.”

“In the past several years, we feel Nashville has become a more contemporary city, with the increasing focus on healthy eating and living,” Mooneyhan said.

Morgan Pitt lived in Scarsdale, N.Y., for five years and often ventured into Manhattan to satisfy her Tasti D-Lite fix. On this night, she enjoyed a Tasti flavored with pina colada.

“It doesn’t taste like it’s missing any calories or fat,” Pitt said. “It tastes like normal ice cream.”

Blaine Brown, Pitt’s friend, relished a Tasti D soft serve for the first time.

“The yogurt places are popping up in town, but this tastes more like ice cream,” Brown said.

Tasti D is not frozen yogurt, because it doesn’t contain fermented yogurt cultures. Nor is it ice cream, because it contains less than 10 percent butter fat. Yet somehow, it manages to nicely re-create the taste and texture of both. To do so, Tasti D uses two dairy bases. The vanilla version is made with water, nonfat milk, sugar, corn syrup, cream, guar gum, locust bean gum, carrageenan, vanilla and lactase. The chocolate dairy base is made with the same elements yet drops vanilla and adds cocoa (processed with alkali).

The Tasti D lineup includes 100 flavors of Classic D-Lite (in either cup or cone); smoothies (flavored with acai, goji, pomegranate or mangosteen); shakes (same flavors as the smoothies); and sundaes (flavored with caramel, hot fudge or strawberry).

“Flavors of the Day” include French vanilla, Dutch chocolate, butterscotch mania, coffee toffee, pina colada and raspberry cheesecake. This writer, a Tasti D newbie, opted for the basic vanilla and chocolate combo. Wow.

On opening night, Stephanie and Jason Jenkins made the 40-mile-one-way drive from Murfreesboro to treat their daughters (Savannah and Rylee) to the soft-serve goodness.

When asked if the time-consuming commute was worth it, Jason — holding 20-month-old Rylee — said flatly, “My toddler loves it. She hasn’t given me a bite.”

Tasti D-Lite
2418 West End Ave.
11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday


2 Comments on this post:

By: howelln on 8/23/09 at 11:31

You do know that West End and Elliston Place do not intersect. This makes your directions on how to get to Tasti D all the more confusing. Just getting tired of reporters in Nashville who don't know where they are or what the street names are.

By: WilliamWilliams on 8/27/09 at 11:05


Good point. Elliston and West End "split" — although a Google map suggests the tiny western-most segment of Elliston might, more accurately, be 25th Avenue North.

We reporters do need to be on top of street names, neighborhood names, landmarks, directions, etc.

William Williams