By Nate Storey
December 20, 2010

As the sultry Buenos Aires summer kicks into high gear, porteños are dipping into a new frozen treat for the first time. Thanks to a pair of Penn grads who imported an American obsession to Argentina, low-calorie frozen yogurt is a hit with sweets-loving, image-obsessed Argentines who spill out the door of the soft-swirl shop in trendy Palermo Soho. The hipsters and fashionistas who sip Quilmes beer on restaurant patios and peruse the chic shops that pepper the treelined streets in this neighborhood have worked the frozen yogurt spot Top It into their daily routines. Owners Ilana Messing and Guillermo Marx see the same faces pop in all week.

Frozen Yogurt is thriving in the Paris of the Pampas for the same reasons it’s a sensation in the U.S.: it’s delicious and low in fat. The guilt-free treat is a novel implant to the world of gelato, alfajores, and dulce de leche (the holy trinity of Argentine desserts). The flood of franchise requests inundating Messing and Marx are proof enough that the fro-yo craze is primed to explode in Argentina. In fact, three copycat productions have already poured onto the scene since Top It began blanketing coiling mountains of frozen yogurt with fruit, cereal, and candy.

Who knows—maybe national icon Diego Maradona will take notice of the burgeoning fro-yo fad. What better spokesperson for a low-calorie snack than a celeb whose past includes a stomach staple?

Nate Storey is a research assistant at Travel + Leisure.

Photos courtesy of Top It.