Monday, June 18, 2007

Who's afraid of mice?

Humans may be unmoved by the health implications of eating poorly, but your average New York rodent could apparently pen its own fad-diet book. After being filmed early this year inside a Taco Bell-KFC unit, acting like starved pensioners on a Martha Stewart cruise, Big Apple vermin were back on the airwaves this morning, cavorting this time within one of the city's Pinkberry frozen-yogurt outlets.

If you don't know Pinkberry, you haven't been to Los Angeles lately. The concept is the hottest craze since Krispy Kreme's flicker as a haute brand in the 1990s. Just to put it in perspective: Paris Hilton requested it by name during one of her jail stays.

Pinkberry features a tart, South Korean style of yogurt in just two flavors, regular and green tea. But if that sounds just a tofu wafer short of bark-flavored Jello, consider that the mix-in choices include Fruity Pebbles, along with fresh berries or other fruits. You can presumably bring in your own Count Chocula.

Even with those nods to indulgence, a perception of healthfulness is a big part of Pinkberry's draw. Call me finicky, but news footage of mice scampering around a unit kind of undercuts that image. Yet there were the clips on the local ABC affiliate, showing at least two of the pests inside a store on the tony Upper East Side.

Yet I'm apparently a veritable germ-a-phobe, given the coverage that followed on the internet during the day. As The New York Post reported, the incident didn't dissuade customers from lining up at the very store where the vermin had been spotted. The tabloid quoted one fan as saying, "As long as there's no rats in the ice cream, I'm OK."

In fairness, it should be noted that Pinkberry has already declared its New York stores "re-sanitized." It also told ABC that it was "chocked and puzzled" by the footage of mice running amock, an assertion supported by Health Department indications that no complaints had been leveled against the site of the videos.

In all, the incident amounted to 15 minutes of intense attention, followed by a mass shrug. It could be a reflection that the public is growing accustomed to rodent events. For that matter, small four-legged creatures may be in vogue with the Lohan-loving set. Look at how Paris clutches that varmint she calls a Chihuahua.

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