Friday, August 16, 2013

Yogurt's Hostile Takeover

Years ago, a comedian I saw on TV said it.

"Yogurt: it looks better than it sounds, and tastes better than it looks."

Agreed.

But I doubt you'll find this as a slogan for any of today's yogurt producers, which is suddenly a crowded boat's worth of companies.

In my day (up to you to figure out when that was), it was Dannon. That was pretty much it. The yogurt came in cardboard containers and you had to scoop the fruit up from the bottom. I always mixed the heck out of it, because I was terrified to find out what even a drop of unmixed, plain yogurt tasted like.

Then Yoplait came on the scene, with its tapered-top plastic containers. The Yoplait stuff was already mixed, perhaps done as a counter to Dannon's mix-it-yourself product.

That was your competition, and your choices. Dannon, or Yoplait. Unless you count your grocer's own brand.

Today, the yogurt consumer is being courted like no other. The country of Greece has become associated with yogurt like Italy with pasta.

In fact, the term "Greek yogurt" carries with it a sort of hubris and elegance. It's supposed to make your eyes dance and your mouth say, "Ooooh."

GREEK yogurt? Well, excuse me!

Have you checked out your grocer's dairy section lately? The cottage cheese and sour cream is being elbowed out of the way by the voluminous brands, flavors and styles of yogurt. Forget going to the grocer. All you need to do is flip on the telly.

There's John Stamos. And Jamie Lee Curtis. And a bunch of other actors, all hawking the magical healing powers of yogurt, which has become the 21st century's elixir of choice.



Aaaaaaaghhh!!!


I also don't recall ever needing a degree in chemistry in order to make a smart yogurt purchase, but it seems as if that wouldn't hurt. The labels are filled with periodic table and mathematical symbols, and words that are typically found in a textbook or a medical journal.

Yogurt does this, yogurt does that. It regulates you. It repairs your heart. It puts you into a state of ecstasy, judging by some of the women who eat it in commercials, sprawled across their sofas, unable to keep the smiles off their faces.

Then there are the flavors, the different shapes and sizes of the packaging, and the brands.

Yogurt's aim appears to be a hostile takeover of the refrigerated section of your local market.

Yogurt is not to be stopped. Advertisers are buying up air time on television like mad, filling the breaks with 30-second spots espousing the powers of yogurt.

Here's how dictionary.com defines yogurt: a prepared food having the consistency of custard, made from milk curdled by the action of cultures, sometimes sweetened or flavored.

That would never sell.

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