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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Eduardo Perez won't pay for another Red Mango smoothie until April.

The 18-year-old finance freshman won a contest Saturday at the Red Mango store on Southwest 34th Street, which promised the winner 20 free smoothies per month until graduation or April 2012, whichever came first.

"I'm just going to munch out on liquids," Perez said. "That's all you really need."

The contest was part of Red Mango's two-hour celebration. The frozen yogurt and smoothie chain was recently named the best nationwide, according to the Zagat Survey, which rates restaurants and diners.

At least 30 people showed up to receive free smoothies, T-shirts and CDs.

To celebrate the award, the founder of Red Mango, Dan Kim, flew in from Chicago to participate in the festivities.

Kim, a 35-year-old business graduate from the University of California at Berkeley, started the company in 2007 to promote a healthy dessert alternative. Red Mango yogurt is made of natural products and probiotics, he said.

Kim, a yogurt enthusiast, has a self-serve yogurt machine in his house, which he uses to create new flavors. For St. Patrick's Day, Kim poured a bottle of Baileys liqueur into the machine and used the alcohol-infused yogurt to entertain guests.

That yogurt flavor won't be in stores anytime soon, he said.

There are about 150 stores throughout the country, primarily in the Northeast.

The Red Mango store on Southwest 34th Street opened in May 2010 and was the first to open in Florida. There are two other Red Mango locations in Gainesville: in Target Copy on University Avenue and inside the The Oaks Mall.

"We're very popular among college campuses and college students, and we know how strong Gainesville is with it's connection to UF," Kim said. "We saw a lot of opportunity there."

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