The Widening World of Yogurt

The Widening World of Yogurt

Food & Drink

The Widening World of Yogurt

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By Cari Martens

Yogurt is one of those food products that just always seems to be trendy. It’s been that way for the last two or three decades anyway.

Back in the 70s, yogurt with fruit at the bottom of the cup was king. We all stirred the fruit into the yogurt and took advantage of those mysterious ‘cultures’ that were supposed to be good for us.

Later, Yoplait and other brands came out with the creamy blended yogurts, and soon there were flavors like Coconut Cream Pie, and Pina Colada.

There was a phase where some of the more ambitious among us started making our own yogurt at home—with mixed results (on my part anyway).

In recent times, probiotics has been a yogurt buzzword. Probiotics are live micro-organisms that work by restoring the balance of intestinal bacteria and raising resistance to harmful germs. Taken in sufficient amounts, they can promote digestive health and help shorten the duration of colds. Brands such as Activia have been promoting the digestive benefits of probiotics present in its product. But, as noted in a New York Times article, only a handful of probiotics have been proved effective in clinical trials.

Probiotics questions notwithstanding, yogurt seems more popular than ever today, with a wealth of new choices, from yogurts made with goat’s milk to Greek-style to soy and even coconut milk yogurts (not sure if they have a Coconut Cream Pie flavor of coconut milk yogurt).

Then there are Icelandic-style yogurts such as the siggi’s brand. It’s a hearty yogurt sold at Whole Foods Markets. The grocery chain’s senior global grocery coordinator was quoted as calling it ‘sort of like Greek yogurt for Vikings.’ Icelandic yogurts are dense, nutrient-packed products that are so thoroughly strained they can be classified as soft cheeses. Two brands are sold in the United States — Skyr.is, imported from Iceland, and siggi’s, made in America by Siggi Hilmarsson, an immigrant from Iceland.

Yogurts once relegated to health food and natural food stores, such as Greek-style strained yogurts and kefir—a drinkable, fermented dairy yogurt—are now readily available in just about any grocery store on any street corner.

The big names in yogurt keep developing new products, too. Yoplait is now touting its “whipped” dessert-like yogurts in flavors such as Chocolate Mousse.

In addition, frozen yogurt is enjoying a renaissance thanks to the trendy self-serve/pay-by-weight shops that are springing up across the country, such as Orange Leaf and Yogurtland. We stopped by an Orange Leaf shop the other evening and the line of people waiting for their turn at the soft-serve machines snaked all the way out the door.

It seems people today are saying yes to yogurt in all its many forms, functions, and brands. You could almost call this the Year of the Yogurt. The question is, where will yogurt go next?

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