It's Greek Yogurt's World Now, We're Just Living in It

The Atlantic

Since August of 2012 we've been predicting that people were going to unleash a world of hate against Greek yogurt. The Wire's Rebecca Greenfield wrote back then, "Greek yogurt, that tarter, thicker cousin of the standard cultured milk product, has just about reached the point in a fad food's life for its backlash." But people kept buying it. In September, upon the opening of a certain "yogurt cafe"—in the words of the New York Post, "Instead of a hot new bar, New York’s beautiful people are flocking to . . . a yogurt shop?"—that was attracting all who were anything to see and be seen, I wrote that the backlash machine had to be kicking in. But people kept buying it. And if that wasn't enough, in February of this year, our Esther Zuckerman brought our eyes to the horrifying "brogurt" trend. As if there's not enough pain in the world, now there is brogurt. BROGURT! And people kept buying it, if not brogurt per se, then Fage and Chobani and Oikos and whatever else. 

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Now, there's a New York Times trend story about it. And you know what that means. Here's a taste: Florence Fabricant writes, "You know Greek yogurt is having its moment when an artisan in Brooklyn is making it from an old family recipe, downtown mixologists are using it in a cocktail and chefs are pairing it with fried brussels sprouts and green cauliflower."

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Yes. There are artisans in Booklyn making artisan blends of artisan things that are yogurt-based. Some dude over at some downtown Manhattan bar even puts Greek yogurt in a cocktail. There are "designer brands" of Greek yogurt that you can buy at your too-expensive better-than-bodega. Trader Joe's sold an organic Greek yogurt in pumpkin for the fall season. There are kosher versions. As previously discussed, there is brogurt. Earlier in March a story ran on the Huffington Post's Food channel touting a "Greek yogurt food invasion." 

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This is big money stuff, writes Fabricant:

Several marketing analysts, including Todd Hale, the senior vice president for consumer and shopper insights at Nielsen, a global research company, say Greek yogurt represents more than $2 billion of the $6 billion yogurt market, with sales of the Greek style having increased 53 percent for the year ending in early February.

And Greek yogurt is not just confined to the aisles of one's grocery, not at all. There are the aforementioned "yogurt cafes." Pinkberry's going Greek, and "will offer not just fruits and nuts as accompaniments, but also tomatoes, cucumbers, basil and olive oil." Greek yogurt is used at fancy restaurants as an edible staging ground for fancy people's fancy other foods: "The Spanish chef Luis Bollo uses Greek yogurt as a bed for fried brussels sprouts and green cauliflower at his restaurant Salinas in Chelsea. Chicken is coated with it before being dredged in panko for baking at Little Owl in the West Village. It’s curried, frozen and spooned onto lamb carpaccio at the Pass in Houston." Fabricant headily concludes, "At David Burke Kitchen in SoHo, Greek yogurt is served in place of sour cream on baked potatoes, something a home cook can copy. But be sure to dust it with coarse sea salt to make it extra-trendy."

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Anything that becomes extra-trendy with the merest dusting of coarse sea salt is not something to be taken down with my words alone. 

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The thing is, even I buy Greek yogurt. I, a self-professed hater, am also a total hypocrite, because I cannot help occasionally picking up a few tubs of Fage (one with honey, one with cherry, maybe a strawberry just for fun) and stashing them in my refrigerator because they seem healthy and clean and an easy enough thing to eat with a spoon on a morning that I feel such things are feasible. Usually these containers of yogurt go bad, or at least, the sell-by date passes by and I am afraid to open them. Sometimes I do, though. The last time I tried to eat a bit of Greek yogurt (in fairness, it was very early in the morning, too early for foods, really, and it was not past the sell-by date) I had to spit it out and throw it away because the mouth-feel was so unpleasant. I will surely buy a replacement tub to sit in my refrigerator soon.

Curious if my feelings were unique, I've asked others, including taking an informal poll of my own colleagues.

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Nary a harsh word was spoken on the subject, not even from Greenfield, predictor of the original backlash, who said, "I like it, but not enough to go to a Greek yogurt bar." Despite those predictions, very few people seem to be actively hating on Greek yogurt. Sure, maybe there are snarky comments here and there. Maybe you secretly look down on that coworker who totes in a 12-pack weekly and self-righteously eats a container multiple times daily while you scoff a chicken parm. But the New York Times loves Greek yogurt. Bartenders (at least one of 'em) love Greek yogurt. My own mother, my flesh and blood, loves Greek yogurt. These people (at least a lot of them) seem pretty enamored with Greek yogurt. Some are not just fans, they are serious fans.

I'm like the Earth is to the Sun except instead of revolving around a star I revolve around Greek yogurt and instead of gravity it's granola

— christopher viccaro (@chrisviccaro) March 10, 2013

Holy Grape Nuts, I am waving my flag of surrender. It is too hard to hate Greek yogurt. You win, Greek yogurt. You win.

(Egg and cheese sandwich deliveries still accepted between the hours of 8 and noon, obviously.)

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