Food History: Is Greek Yogurt Really From Greece?

Given its name, it is easy for you to think Greek yogurt originated in Greece but that is far from the truth. In this article we explore the truth behind the Greek yogurt so be sure to read till the end.

By Cookist

There are many variations of Greek Yogurt in this day and age. If you try to search that term, many options will be presented to you by the algorithm however none of the options are location-oriented.

This is because Greek yogurt is not from Greece. In fact, what Americans refer to as Greek yogurt is one that has had most of its whey strained out, giving it a thicker consistency.

In Greece, they call it straggisto I.e strained yogurt. The name "Greek" yogurt was first used to describe products manufactured by Fage, a company in Athens, Greece. However it became popular after Chobani, a company created in the US by a Turkish man, started using the term too.

Fage would later sue Chobani for using the "Greek" term in its branding but the case was unsuccessful and Chobani continued to use the name. Of course in Greece, any yogurt is Greek Yogurt.

According to Matt Barrett, the brain behind Athens Guide, “Places in Greece sell yogurt and don’t need to call it Greek yogurt."

He also added that "The companies in the USA that sell what they call Greek yogurt are generally not Greek. One or two are Turkish and the rest are a mix of small dairy companies and large corporations.”

Yogurts made and sold in Greece come from different animals including cows, sheep, or goats and they can be thick or thin. In truth, it is just as diverse a category as it is in any other place.


Despite that fact, when Americans are in Greece, they go with their versions of the American Greek. Rachel Montague, who runs four tours through Athens Daily Food Tour, has met about 2,000 Americans because of her work and on two of those tours, Greek yogurt was served.

She had this to say about the subject.

“This subject comes up on around 50 percent of our tours. They want to know what makes it so different here than the yogurt they buy in the US and they also want to know why it is so thick.”

The answer they seek can be found by studying the process. Greek yogurt starts out the same way as other yogurt, by heating milk and introducing a bacteria culture to start fermentation, which turns the liquid into a more solid form.

The step that comes next is what separates the actual Greek yogurt from the American Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt is strained and the end result is yogurt with thicker consistency.


Strained yogurt can be found all over the world, but Fage was the first to make it popular in the US.

The company attached “Greek” to the name of its strained yogurt product, and when Chobani did the same, the publicity became more popular in the US, causing Americans to associate all strained yogurts as one with “Greek” in the name.

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