Historians credit nomadic herdsmen in Central Asia for beginning the entire yogurt craze, likely around 6000 BC, After they milked their animals, they kept the milk in containers made from animal stomachs, which tended to cause curdling and fermentation. After a long day, what went as milk become a custardy food as it sloshed around in the containers. Before cattle were domesticated, other herded animals, including goats and sheep, provided the foundation for the vast majority of dairy products.
The term berry originated in Turkey, where the custom of fermenting milk caught on in a big way. (So for all you guys out there who believe yogurt is for sissies, think again.) The first references to yogurt are in Turkish writings throughout the 11th century, but it is thought that yogurt was consumed with honey because the first Bible times. Other nations seasoned it with seeds and spices, appreciating its smooth creamy texture. There are as many variations as there are states, and its popularity spread long before its health benefits were completely understood. Middle Eastern nations used yogurt in several dishes centuries until it found its way to Western Europe.
Because yogurt comprises good bacteria, it was considered to possess curative powers particularly for intestinal and digestive abnormalities. Francis I, a potent late fifteenth century French monarch, supposedly was relieved of his chronic diarrhea by a doctor who prescribed a daily serving of yogurt, and word soon spread throughout Western Europe.
In the nation of India, a similar version named da-hi is a popular accompaniment to native hot entrees. Often made from yak or water buffalo milk, it’s also consumed in Nepal and Tibet and regarded as a staple of the simple diets. Lassi and kefir are different kinds of yogurt in a liquid form among Indian and Middle Eastern cultures. Americans still favor their own versions of yogurt and seldom venture out of the comfort zone.
Turkish immigrants brought their cherished yogurt to North America in the 1700s but it did not gain much popularity before the mid-1940s. Probably not. Virtually confined to big cities and cultural communities on the East Coast, it surely wouldn’t have been a big hit on the frontier, either.
From the early 20th century, it had been seen strictly as a”health food” and consumed by people who had gastrointestinal challenges. Dr. John Harvey Kellogg served it every day at his Battle Creek Sanitarium, where people flocked to experience his remedies eating a limited diet. Due to the lactobacillus part, it encouraged healthful probiotics in the intestines and stomach, and fostered digestive enzymes. Presumably the first commercial yogurt business, a little mom and pop business named Columbo yogurt setup shop on the East Coast in 1929.
He named his company Danone, following his son Daniel. After the family arrived in New York, they started their business in the Bronx and re-named the company Dannon. As it gradually became mainstream, no longer seen as only a faddist food for stomach disorders, they took over a little yogurt mill in New York and the rest is history. From the late 1940s it was foreign to the vast majority of Americans, so the Dannon people additional fruit, which made the sour flavor a bit more palettable. Now Dannon markets their yogurts worldwide.
Recently, Greek yogurt has made a large impact, because of its thicker and richer consistency, nosing out reduced fat and more watery predecessors. New on the scene are varieties claiming super-sized quantities of live probiotics, in already-overcrowded milk pieces, hoping to lure customers who wish to boost their gut bacteria.
Needless to say, yogurt has become commonplace in our modern diet and loved in its original condition in addition to a frozen treat. It’s estimated that 75 percent of adults consume it in some form weekly. But recall the additives and higher sugar content to adapt the American palette, which will certainly knock down it on the wholesome foods scale. Eat it for pleasure, but do not delude yourself that it is a bona fide”health food.” Most yogurts are essentially ice cream with a little bacteria thrown in.