New treats arrive at Bell Blvd.

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If the thought of frozen yogurt does not immediately conjure up an association with the cool, crisp air and leaves that are beginning to rustle along the sidewalks of Bell Boulevard as we welcome in autumn, the sign in the window of the new Red Mango tempting passersby with the promise of its seasonal pumpkin spice flavor is sure to instantly make one feel warm and cozy inside.

And for those who doubt the frosty treats still hold the same appeal after we bid a (not so) fond farewell to summer’s stifling heat and all the offensive perspiring that inevitably goes along with it, one only need to stop by on a weekday afternoon around 3 p.m., when youngsters from MS 158 on nearby Oceania Street make their pre-planned migration to the shop.

Elaina Verrastro said she and almost every other student in her seventh-grade class make a deliberate point to stop by every Friday for what she could describe only as “the best” frozen yogurt around.

Whether by constitution or a sugar-induced circumstance, classmate Jordan Butler gave possibly the most emphatic endorsement ever of the vanilla-flavored confection topped with gummy bears and cherries he had just finished off.

Co-owner Alexcia Poulidis said the thing that surprised her most after opening the shop Sept. 17 was the range of customers who visit Red Mango, which was named the No. 1 frozen yogurt and smoothie chain in the country by Zagat.

“It’s everyone, from older people to kids. Everyone needs a healthy alternative,” she said.

According to the company, Red Mango’s frozen yogurt is an all-natural, nonfat and gluten-free treat served in cups or as smoothies and parfaits.

Baysider Laura Puccio said she is lactose- and gluten-intolerant, and before Red Mango opened it had been three years since she had been able to eat yogurt.

“I stop by just about every day now,” she said as she enjoyed her plain yogurt topped with strawberries, blueberries and bananas. “The blueberries are also good for my arthritis.”

Customers enter the shop and head to the back, where they can choose from one or any combination of nine flavors, which they serve themselves, and then head over to the toppings bar where they can load up on selections of fresh fruit and “fun and crunchy” — read: candy! — choices.

For those who need help, employees like Jacqueline Yang give guidance to customers, though Yang admits that mostly unusual combinations come from her own mind.

“I think the weirdest combination I made was pumpkin spice yogurt topped with honey and Twix,” she bragged. “It’s absurd, isn’t it? But it worked!”

Red Mango, at 42-23 Bell Blvd., is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. It is scheduled to hold a grand opening Saturday when, between the hours of 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., visitors will receive one free small frozen yogurt with one topping.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4574.

Updated 10:29 am, October 13, 2011
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