Greek Yogurt Haters, Unite! We Have Nothing To Lose But Some Bacteria

The high-protein, probiotic white stuff is taking over the world, but why does anyone like the way it tastes?

  • Share
  • Read Later
Anthony Behar / Sipa USA

An employee prepares customer's order at the newly opened The Yogurt Culture Company on Park Avenue and 41st Street, an independent venture by The Dannon Company that offers fresh yogurt varieties on July 12, 2012, New York, NY.

It’s rare that you can get me to eat anything probiotic, at least knowingly. But on a 99-degree day in New York City recently, I found myself needing to go in somewhere, anywhere, and get something cold. And thus it was that I encountered, in person, frozen kefir. Kefir, in case you’re wondering, is a kind of fermented milk and grain drink, which I bought frozen in an approximation of soft serve ice cream. (Soft serve, of course, was what I really wanted.) It wasn’t that bad; once I had covered its surface with Cap’n Crunch cereal and rainbow jimmies, it went down easily enough. It was cold, anyway. But what I didn’t know at the time was that I was eating the dessert of the future, or at least its cousin.

Or so I am led to believe, anyway, by numerous trend stories that have appeared recently. Kefir is still a fairly exotic product, but Greek yogurt, with hardly any sweetness at all, and no Cap’n Crunch to be found anywhere, has become so popular that it is credited with saving the dairy industry in some areas, and of wiping out the milk supply in others. Dannon has opened up a pilot shop for what will be a new national Greek yogurt chain. (Regular yogurt will be served there too.) Chobani, which is apparently the top-selling yogurt in the country, is opening up a store too. Even Fro-Yo giants like Pinkberry trying to get in on the action, adding Greek yogurt to their menus.Which I think is odd, because I don’t understand why anyone would actually like the way it tastes. (Check out this Youtube video, which gives some much-needed tips on “How to Make Greek Yogurt Taste Good.”)

(MORE: Smooth Operator: How Chobani Spread Greek Yogurt Across America)

The reason for the popularity of Greek yogurt, of course, is health. Unlike ordinary yogurt, the Greek variety is strained of excess liquid, which accounts for its thicker texture and its greater protein and probiotics count. Is it better for you than regular yogurt? Is regular yogurt better for you, for that matter, than ice cream? As with glutens, lactose, high fructose corn syrup, and various other food fiends, their effect on our systems are a matter of debate even among experts, and it’s easy to find forceful pronouncements for whichever position you feel like taking. In the case of Greek yogurt and its fermented cousins, they’re clearly less fattening than their better-tasting counterparts on the Mr. Softee truck, owing to their lesser concentrations of fat and sugar. But the mystique of probiotic foods may speak more to the power of taste cultures than bacterial ones.

I have eaten a lot of probiotic foods over the years, rarely by choice. Somebody once handed me a bottle of kombucha and told me it was Snapple, just to see me spit it out. (They did.) The fermented vegetables in kimchi are something you can’t really avoid if you are a food writer, however much you might want to. But yogurt is the food that I find hardest to avoid. I don’t like it. Even the kind with a layer of sweet fruit at the bottom isn’t sweet enough for me; Greek yogurt is even worse, with a sour tang that reverberates with every bite, making you long for the most vile processed pudding you can remember eating.

(MORE: Chefs Seek a New Culinary Seal of Approval for Healthy Dishes)

Of course, that’s part of its appeal. Greek yogurt belongs to that class of foods, along with fish sauce and runny cheese and the kind of chocolate that is composed of 99% cocoa solids, which mark one’s taste as grown-up. I personally detest them, but then I’m a vulgarian. I eat sybaritically, which is to say in a shallow, grossly pleasure-seeking way. I know that better men than me can enjoy desserts that aren’t sweet, meats that aren’t juicy, or even more advanced badges of gourmandism: foraged lichens, say, or fishes past the point of putrefaction. Unlike some pseudo-populist types, I don’t present my admittedly juvenile tastes as a badge of honor. But they incline me to doubt whether, in the absence of any compelling health reason to do so, so many people really prefer a product that is tart and savory to one that is sweet. Is this perhaps some sort of culinary masochism, like the burnt toast that pro-ana how-to forums recommend? How could taste change so quickly without there being an element of the perverse? I don’t claim to have the answer to this question. I merely raise it, from the vantage point of my own wide, sweet, unchallenging comfort zone, in the shadow of the Dairy Queen.

MORE: Why Food Trucks Aren’t Going Away

68 comments
LaraineBarker
LaraineBarker

What you put on it sounds revolting. But this is the first time I've heard kefir referred to as Greek yoghurt. I make Greek yoghurt myself and all I do is make ordinary yoghurt and then pour it into a piece of cloth over a colander, with a basin under that, and leave it for an hour or two. It actually lands up a lot less sour than the original yoghurt (much to my dismay). People say it's better for you than regular yoghurt, but I'm left wondering how much of the goodness might actually disappear with the whey.

ScottSullivan
ScottSullivan

Yurgh! I hate extremely sweet foods. I can't stomach the taste of cake, brownies, cookies, or even ice cream for the most part. I greatly enjoy savory, sour, etc. 

DBL
DBL

Kombucha! Yum. (Same goes for Greek yogurt!)

George3
George3

Stick to hamburgers mate. And keep writing about them. That's classy food writing.

I agree with most of the comments below. Greek yogurt is good for your health because it (should) come from fresh milk, keeping all the necessary nutrients and microorganisms, compared with your favourite ice cream that is made from non fermented milk and with tons of sugar.

BronwenDyll
BronwenDyll

I loathe yogurt. As a kid I LOVED Dannon fruit on the bottom, especially the lemon and boysenberry flavors. Then, my then-hippieish mother decided she would be making all of our yogurt. To this day, there have been very few things that revolt me as much as that horrid concoction did. In addition, I now hate anything that looks like or has the texture of yogurt-sour cream, marscapone cheese, mayonaise, etc.. If I even LOOK at these items long enough gagging commences. I love fermented stuff-bring on the fish sauce and kimchee,and I actually work in wine ( although I tolerate vinegar in small amounts, in general, it's not my fave. It's not great with wine and easily overpowers other ingredients, but in moderation it can be wonderful. 99% of all Balsamics suck, however).

AshleyPope
AshleyPope

i got some greek yogurt for my health, and ughh it's terrible! I had no idea that it tasted like this! Back to yoplait for me.

Ellobern
Ellobern

Cap'n Crunch and rainbow jimmies?  Ugh!  Your tastebuds obviously have been corrupted.

Donna Fox Finch
Donna Fox Finch

Sugar addict!!  I completely cut my sugar intake 4 years ago in an effort to lose weight (I've kept 110 pounds off for 3 years now) and it changed my life.  Once I broke that addiction I couldn't STAND the taste of anything sweet.  I love greek yogurt as well as unsweetened tea (green especially) black coffee, and very dark chocolate.  "Traditional" sugary yogurt would make me vomit!

Virginia Hudson
Virginia Hudson

You should probably distinguish between true Greek yogurt and the abomination known as Greek style yogurt, where chemical magic is used to substitute for the straining process. 

Fage Greek yogurt is creamy and delicious. Dannon's gelatinous attempt? Not so much.

Johny32
Johny32

Greek Yogurt is actually what yogurt use to be like before we started adding tons of sugar and everything in the kitchen cupboard .  Kefir is just yogurt that has the water taken out.. Its not something from mars as some of us (ignorant) Americans think it to be.. Since we demand super salty or super sweet things we forget that, its not normal . Then we wonder why we cant loose weight.. Flavored yogurt is disgusting and should be banned all together. That sad part is people eat yogurt with sugar and everything under the sun and think they are eating healthy just like we eat salad with tons of fatty dressings thinking we are healthy.. We will continue to live this lie and get fat.

Johny32
Johny32

Greek Yogurt is actually what yogurt use to be like before we started adding tons of sugar and everything in the kitchen cupboard .  Kefir is just yogurt that has the water taken out.. Its not something from mars as some of us (ignorant) Americans think it to be.. Since we demand super salty or super sweet things we forget that, its not normal . Then we wonder why we cant loose weight.. Flavored yogurt is disgusting and should be banned all together. That sad part is people eat yogurt with sugar and everything under the sun and think they are eating healthy just like we eat salad with tons of fatty dressings thinking we are healthy.. We will continue to live this lie and get fat.

Ms. Munchie
Ms. Munchie

A food writer who won't eat ANY fermented product? Let's see: yogurt, kimchi, kombucha, yes. Also, sourdough, vinegar, cider, wine, beer, etc, etc. Who gave you the job of food writer then?

Justice4some
Justice4some

I agree with the author.  Greek yogurt is disgusting to me, too. 

kfournia
kfournia

What a bad bad article... you replied in the comments "But as I said above, the purpose of the column isn't to express my personal dislike of the stuff. It's to point out that many of the people who eat it don't like it either." So where are your statistics? Did you interview anyone because there is nothing in the article suggesting that besides your own experience and opinion with regards to the food. Anyways count me in the bunch who LIKES greek yoghurt, and the many who will not read a single article from you again, very very bad article.

Clare Collins
Clare Collins

Everything said in this article about greek yogurt not being sweet enough and why would someone choose it over sweet and fattening ice cream is what is wrong with America and why we have an obesity epidemic...is it any surprise that in the photo of this author he is clearly overweight? There's nothing wrong with having "juvenile tastes" but there's a reason parents make their kids eat vegetables and say no to ice cream as an every day food and leave it for a special treat....that being said greek yogurt is DELICIOUS including the plain, no sugar, no added fruit, no added anything kind...I would choose it over a steak any day.

The fact that Time ran an article about ONE MAN'S taste buds is really kind of annoying....

CPMurdock
CPMurdock

Why is an article about fermented milk being written by someone who doesn't like fermented milk?  This statement is the most infuriating:  "The reason for the popularity of Greek yogurt, of course, is health."  Where did this knucklehead get that idea?  I eat Greek yogurt because it is tastier than regular yogurt, and because it has the consistency of custard.  I like the stuff.  Do I like the stuff as much as ice cream?  No.  But then I don't like MOST foods as much as ice cream.  Does that mean I eat most foods just for the health benefit?  Does that mean I should eat ice cream all the time?  In this country, NO FOOD PRODUCT becomes the best-selling in its class for no other reason than it is healthful.  Believe me, no person is eating it for that reason alone.  The author needs to stop making unsupported assumptions about other people's behavior.

JakeJojo
JakeJojo

Not everything that comes from the Balkans is from Greece ,as a meter of fact hardly anything is .If it was they wouldn't go bankrupt  

Kimsbenn
Kimsbenn

I eat very little sugar and enjoy tart foods. I'm with the author, though, and think it tastes horrible no matter what flavor. The overwhelming sour milk taste is too much. Being on a low calorie, high protein diet I look for the trade off in foods but not even the protein content can get me to eat it.

Mary2277
Mary2277

Greek yoghurt is not meant to be eaten on it's own anyway. There are some really nice ways to eat it, if you decide to, especially for breakfast with Walnuts and honey. However, we have been brought up with Greek Yoghurt to be eaten with our food. Nothing better than having that "sour tang that reverberates with every bite" with a nice grilled chicken or pork kebab. But at the end of the day, each culture eats and experiences Greek Yoghurt the way they know or think they should eat it.

f_galton
f_galton

Try dipping your foraged lichens in Greek yougurt.

Myra Diphyto
Myra Diphyto

What I can say? You need a refined palate to appreciate real food like Greek yogurt. Maybe this writer should stick to the kids' stuff – cheap, mass-produced, untextured stirred yogurt saturated with sugar and flavoring and swirled with pretty colors.

itmustbebobby
itmustbebobby

Funny piece. Greek yogurt is an acquired taste but I totally get where they author is coming from. And have a sense of humor, people! 

itmustbebobby
itmustbebobby

Funny piece. Greek yogurt is an acquired taste but I totally get where the author is coming from. And have a sense of humor, people! 

MarkosK
MarkosK

Another anti-greek pathetic article. Greek Yogurt cause of it's probiotics is the BEST for the human health. How can someone be so pathetic to go against it, just cause of it's taste ? Or it's not the taste, but the "Greek" thing. Stop be anti-greek please.

Cecilia Ernst
Cecilia Ernst

I find yogurt in general to be pretty disgusting.  

Also, the whole dairy for your health thing is a fallacy propagated by the dairy industry.  

Brad Foley
Brad Foley

Lame. 

If you like sweet processed food, fine. But don't expect that everyone does - or should. I eventually had to start making my own yogurt because the store-bought is always too bland and I can't eat it. I LIKE it sour. And sometimes add salt, or garlic, or mint. I put it on meat, mix it with beets. It's not a dessert. Vanilla yogurt makes me gag.But I don't write articles declaring a conspiracy of slack jawed, saggy buttocked, diabetic-coma-zombies are trying to take over the world.  

bzelbub
bzelbub

I don't mind the runny cheese, almost nothing is better to take care of stuffy nose caused by to much air conditioning.  Aged brick and limburger, will help take care of your blockages.. Second best is to stand in a calf barn and enjoy the breeze. Dark chocolate? I have always enjoyed it. Greek yogurt? Some of the most disgusting stuff ever foisted upon the American public. It reminds me of to many older boomer women still wearing their peasant skirts, only now the yogurt is as dry as they are.

meThought
meThought

Greek yogurt is actually the best I've ever tasted, and the

healthiest. Little known facts:

1. You should have it with honey and walnuts. Then, thank

me. It has also been tested with maple syrup and fared rather well.

2. Greek sheep's yogurt is also fantastic. But the west is not

quite ready for it. Yet.

3. The word "Chobani" comes from the Greek

"Tsompanis" (singular, "tsompanidhes" plural) which in

Greek means shepherd of sheep or goats [see no.2 above])

4. The brand "Chobani" is virtually unknown in

Greece -if it even exists there.

5. To Greek yogurt, add crushed garlic, creamed and strained

cucumber and Greek olive oil, all to taste, whip, and you've got Tzatziki-dip

which is heaven with any kind of meat, bread and of course french fries!

Bon Appétit!

meThought
meThought

Greek yogurt is actually the best I've ever tasted, and the

healthiest. Little known facts:

1. You should have it with honey and walnuts. Then, thank

me. It has also been tested with maple syrup and fared rather well.

2. Greek sheep's yogurt is also fantastic. But the west is not

quite ready for it. Yet.

3. The word "Chobani" comes from the Greek

"Tsompanis" (singular, "tsompanidhes" plural) which in

Greek means shepherd of sheep or goats [see no.2 above])

4. The brand "Chobani" is virtually unknown in

Greece -if it even exists there.

5. To Greek yogurt, add crushed garlic, creamed and strained

cucumber and Greek olive oil, all to taste, whip, and you've got Tzatziki-dip

which is heaven with any kind of meat, bread and of course french fries!

Bon Appétit!

Tomasz Rakowski
Tomasz Rakowski

Sugar is an acquired taste. Most Americans are sugar junkies and cannot enjoy food unless it tastes like donuts. 

As soon as you get off the boob, the sugar indoctrination starts, with cereals, crappy chocolate, horrible bred (loaded with sugar) that should be on the list of controlled substances, sodas and what not. 

Have you noticed how fat Americans are ? Where do you think that comes from ? 

freespirittm1
freespirittm1

yoghurt was never meant to be sweet in the first place . if it had been, the cows would have made sweet milk:) the preference for sweet yoghurt is yet another perversion of taste the modern society and the food industry have managed to induce on a large scale and is one of the culprits for the current obesity epidemic.

whining about the Greek yoghurt is the funniest and stupidest thing I have ever seen in a long time :))

valente347
valente347

My husband is a "vulgarian" and has a horrible sweet tooth, but he likes yogurt and kefir (but not non-fat) because he likes a tangy-sweet combo. He just stirs in a remarkable amount of strawberry or grape jam and eats it with his morning Fruit Loops.

leslie
leslie

The Greek yogurt is the only kind I can eat that won't make me feel sick. And some of us don't crave sweet. Sweet makes my teeth hurt.  I much prefer a little tartness in my food.

Muhammed Choudhury
Muhammed Choudhury

Hard to believe that someone will write against a particular food just because he doesn't like it but many other does.  So whats next? Another whining piece on why are people eating more veggies, because veggies taste like sh*t? 

SabrinaIpkiss
SabrinaIpkiss

@Johny32 Excuse me but kefir is not "just yogurt that has the water taken out". It's a completely different probiotic drink, fermented by very different bacteria and yeast cultures as compared to yogurt. And no, greek yogurt is not "what yogurt use to be like before we started adding tons of sugar and everything in the kitchen cupboard". Greek Yogurt is strained yogurt, i.e. yogurt without the whey. You're confusing it with "unprocessed yogurt".

George3
George3

@JakeJojo I think the term greek yogurt corresponds to the yogurt made in a greek natural style.

Not necessarily coming from Greece. As for the Balkans, all Balkans are bankrupt, but that's not because of the yogurt ;)

CPMurdock
CPMurdock

 Once I tasted Chobani, I never went back.  Dannon now tastes too thin, and Yoplait tastes artificial.  I agree with you, Myra, the author has the taste buds of a child.  He wasn't the right person to write this article.

Joshua Ozersky
Joshua Ozersky

You have uncovered my anti-Greek bias, despite my best efforts. I thought I had hidden them, too. It's not the yogurt; I hate statues and moussaka too.

SabrinaIpkiss
SabrinaIpkiss

@Brad Foley I like my yogurt so sour that I ferment it for 24 hours! The author can avoid all healthy foods if he wants, just don't write articles about how you hate anything which is probiotic and not laden with refined sugar and salt.

Caroline Ryan
Caroline Ryan

Haha! You mentioning linburger made me laugh out loud. My husband absolutely hates it but I LOVE the stuff. I have to keep it in a sealed container in the fridge. He says it stinks it up haha!

Joshua Ozersky
Joshua Ozersky

Thanks! But as I said above, the purpose of the column isn't to express my personal dislike of the stuff. It's to point out that many of the people who eat it don't like it either; they are merely taking their medicine in a puritanical spirit. 

Joshua Ozersky
Joshua Ozersky

You miss my point. It's not that I think it's bad. It's that everybody does, and that very dislike is the attraction of the stuff. Please at least read my column through before telling me what an asshat I am. This goes for you "likers" too.

itmustbebobby
itmustbebobby

Weird, I guess these things (opinions) are, like, subjective or something. Enjoy the gross yogurt! 

MarkosK
MarkosK

Better write some comedy ...uppsss...sorry...comedy is a Greek word ! 

meThought
meThought

Bulgarian, Greek, Turkish, they are all almost the same and each excellent! (tipping my hat) By the Way, the gentleman who owns Chobani is Turkish.

freespirittm1
freespirittm1

:)  I never meant any offense and I apologize.  what I was trying to point out was that what's wrong is that particular learned taste of "sweet anything" that got people to dislike food that have their natural taste. it's not important kefir is drunk for puritanically healthy reason, this is just the first step.

and after all, there may be the cultural differences. where I come from yoghurt has always been a little tart. sweet yoghurt is only available as an "achievement" of post-comunist times and it has not yet conquered the market. when I go abroad I have a hard time finding "natural"yoghurt and that drives me a little crazy everytime.

monjenl
monjenl

You should try Fage...it's heavenly. A little more pricey than Chobani, but better. I don't know why everyone's eating Chobani. But you're comparing Greek yogurt to a dessert, ice cream, which it wasn't really meant to be. You can't judge it by the same expectations. I like it for breakfast or a snack. I would never eat ice cream for breakfast or a snack (although by the sounds of it, you would). The sourness makes Greek yogurt more like cheese to me. And I bet you like cheese...so just think of it as a really rich, creamy cheese. Appreciate the texture. If you expect sweet, you're going to think it's gross. And Kefir, I started drinking that years ago. I liked the effervescent nature of it and it really helped my digestion. Trust me, I am not attracted to gross things that everyone else thinks are cool. I refuse to eat sushi, for instance. You could not pay me to eat raw fish!!

wrestlefemfan52
wrestlefemfan52

umm hello...I am part of that "everybody" you mentioned and I happen to LIKE  Greek yogurt. I switched to Greek yogurt because its richer, thicker and creamier than other yogurts.   Yum.  I was not aware that it has some sort of mythic health benefits.  The "article"  WAS unamusing... if that was your attempt at humor, you failed).

Muhammed Choudhury
Muhammed Choudhury

Nice to have a reply from the author!

So, basically you are saying, if I may paraphrase a lot, that many people don't like them but eat it because its "hip", am I right?

I disagree, because people's taste change with time and exposure. They taste new things, and may find new favorites, happens all the time.  

I have been raised on a steady diet of meat cooked in heavenly curries, and in my country,  pink on meat usually means shame and disgrace for the cook. But now, in your country, I am absolutely delighted to see some pink in the burger patty, and a good, juicy burger actually satisfies me, somewhat like you. 

Savory salsa outsells tomato ketchup in US for last 20 years or so. I am not sure if it can be accounted for by "hipness" and "raised on" argument.

max4374
max4374

 Everybody thinks its bad? And where exactly did you get that information? Because you asked a few people? The whole of southern Europe, middle east and northern Africa have been enjoying it (not just tolerating it, but enjoying it) and not because the dislike it.  I might not like tripe, and cannot see how anyone can like it, but my father, my very wife absolutely love it.  Not because others don't like it, not because it is exotic or different, but because they really like the taste, that very taste that makes me puke.  It doesn't mean that I am right and they are wrong, or the other way around.