You’re Eating Bulgarian Yogurt

by Zoë Pollock

Sales of Greek yogurt have increased 2500% over the last five years. Margy Slattery ruins the marketing coup:

Ironically, not only is traditional Greek yogurt not particularly healthful, but, according to [Yale professor Paul Freedman], it’s also not particularly Greek. For one, the type of strained yogurt marketed in the U.S. as “Greek,” he says, is actually most closely associated with nearby parts of Eastern Europe and the Balkans, particularly Bulgaria.

(The subspecies of the bacterium used to produce yogurt is called bulgaricus.) The word yogurt, meanwhile, comes from Turkish, attesting to the food’s prominence in Middle Eastern diets, as well. … [Harvard anthropologist Ted Bestor], who studies the anthropology of food, explains that “if you’re trying to market something in the U.S., any label that’s Iraqi yogurt or Syrian yogurt or Lebanese yogurt—it just wouldn’t have a real positive feeling.”

I doubt that, but do agree that Greek yogurt, even with its misleading marketing, is a welcome respite from past schemes.