Get Off Of My Lawn With Your Fancy Greek Yogurt
Yogurt is like methadone for people with dairy dependency issues. It has replaced sour cream in my life, and I believe I’m better off because of it. I was huddling behind a 7-11, mainlining clarified butter when I realized I had hit rock bottom. It takes a while to get used to the yogurt, but it gets me through the day. Occasionally, I still get the real deal when dining out. The result is always the same; I wake up with all my clothes on, a feeling of remorse, and dried sour cream in my beard.
Because it is “healthy,” yogurt is generally perceived to be and marketed as a “health food.” As such, it is subject to the whims of health fads. Before the Greek yogurt health fad (it’s got more protein than regular yogurt, so now you don’t have to eat meat or beans!) came the probiotics health fad (it’ll make you shit!) led by Dannon’s Activia, a product line that now includes Activia Greek and Activia Greek Light.
So why is everyone fucking with poor Chobani, the brand that fueled the Greek yogurt craze of the last … however long “kale” has been a thing? The Russian embargo of the performance enhancing food cost the US Olympic team innumerable medals at the Sochi Games (estimates range from two to “all of them, Katie”). Fage channels its butthurt over lost market share into lawsuits about product labeling. Meanwhile, Whole Foods spits in its face.
Trying to keep up with the trends and to attract new consumers has rendered the yogurt section a kaleidoscope of textures, flavors, and package redesign. Key Lime Pie, Dulce de Leche, and Passionfruit are just a few of the more off-putting flavors available. I don’t want candy or granola or nuts in a separate chamber waiting to be mixed in at the time of consumption. You can get lite, whipped, frothy, drinkable, or extra thick. How do they get all those different textures? Science, of course. Müller’s Fruit Ups contain tilapia! Sorry vegetarians: most brands contains some kind of gelatin from animals, but none are so bold as Müller as to specify the animal they’re using, so kudos for transparency, I guess. Whole Foods’ “Dear John” to Chobani sums up my frustration:
As the national demand for Greek yogurt has grown, so has the number of conventional Greek yogurt options. As is the case with any saturated product category, Whole Foods Market challenged our Greek yogurt suppliers to create unique options for shoppers to enjoy – whether it be exclusive flavors, organic choices or non-GMO options.
I just want generic brand, fruit on the bottom yogurt. It is tasty and economical. Don’t get me wrong: I’ve tried a few varieties of Greek yogurt (when they go on sale to three times the cost of generic plain, down from four times). Yes, they are much more tasty than what Barney Kroger’s ghost is cooking up. But three to four times more tasty? As a cheapskate, I think not.
State of the Industry: Yogurt and Cottage Cheese in the U.S. (8th Ed) includes the chapter “Emerging Children’s and Men’s Market for Yogurt.” The Editrix won’t pony up the $200 for the full report, so all we can do is speculate about the implications. Coming to a dairy case near you: Doritos Locos Yogurt (with a dorito crumb corner!); Xxxtreme Buffalo Yogurt (in ranch or blue cheese flavor); Sharp Cheddar and Bacon Yogurt; YOLO (may as well have a well-regulated gut) Yogurt; and, I don’t know, Sugar and Dye with Sprinkles Yogurt.