adventures in greek yogurt

June 13, 2011

I have embarked on a journey through taste and smell and sound, delving into the exciting world of greek yogurt. You see two weeks ago I told Jon that I would no longer like a sandwich for lunch. Jon, the designated packer of the lunches, did not think that an all-day intake of only fruit and plain vanilla yogurt was satisfactory enough to nourish his pretty darling flower (that's me, sailormouths. that's what he calls me, his pretty darling flower*.) and so the taste-testing of many greek yogurt brands was born. He went forthwith to the grocery store and got me every brand of greek yogurt he could get his hands on. It was for fun! And protein! And science!

*no

I took a yogurt journey. This is my story.

Day 1 • Kroger (store brand) greek yogurt • yumminess: -1
I started out with our local store brand, Kroger greek yogurt with honey, and then my mouth was filled with a horrifying caustic sadness. Generic greek yogurt is pretty much as I dreamed it would be– not good. I took tiny bites and made the Mr. Yuck sour-pinchy face and got it all down. Spoiler alert: it took a. long. time.

Was it spoiled? A fluke? I doubt it, but there's no way in hell I'm buying another cup to test it out. I lamented what had happened to my life, how did I get to this sad place? Yogurt gods help me, I prayed the rest were not be this sour and bitey.

Day 2 • Yoplait greek yogurt with honey • yumminess: 1
The next day was barely an improvement. The Yoplait was slightly less caustic but it also wasn't ringing my bell up and down and side to side like you know I like it. It was sour and had some vague approximation of something mixed in there they were trying to call "honey."

I dialed the Mr. Yuck face down a few notches but it was still there, reflected in my computer screen. Really that's just a figure of speech, I have a non-reflective flat screen monitor. (And yes, I eat lunch at my desk.) So would I recommend it? No, not really. No I wouldn't.

I was starting to think that the greek yogurt hype was way overblown.

Day 3 • Dannon greek yogurt, honey on the bottom • yumminess: 8.5
The next day was when everything changed. Everything, even my underpants. The Dannon stood out from the first two right off the bat in a very important way– the honey was not premixed into the yogurt. When I opened it up it looked... strange with a big clump of thick yogurt in the middle and liquidy honey film oozing out around the edges. Kinda gross, actually. Turns out this was the best possible kind of gross– one bite later I finally understood what I had been missing.

The yogurt was thicker and more sour/savory than standard yogurt but without stopping to repeatedly do burnouts on my tongue with tire chains. Scooping up a bit of real honey at the same time let me control the sweetness. It was... delightful. Kids, we have a WINNER! Things were looking up. Dannon has already been a repeat purchase and we got some for the Jude too (in peach!).

Day 4 • Athenos greek yogurt with honey • yumminess: 10,000
And behold, on the fourth day the yogurt gods were good. The Athenos rocked my world. I have a full on obsession now. Interestingly they took it a step even further than the Dannon by putting the honey and yogurt in separate sections of the bowl, allowing for even more mixing control. The honey was a slightly better quality, but it was the yogurt that made me go all yogurt in my pants.

Here's the thing– it was more like feta or goat cheese than the yogurt we're used to. Goat cheese... yogurt. Very thick, strong flavor. With honey. DIVINE. MORE. MORE MORE MORE. Sadly our home store was out of stock this week, probably because it is so awesome. Or because no one buys it except me. Tears. They had better get their shit together before grocery day or bad bad things are going to happen in the dairy cabinet. I know, because I'll be there doing them.

athenos athenos opened

Day 5 • Chobani pomegranate • yumminess: 6
Chobani doesn't have a honey flavor, at least not that I can find anywhere. Fie! Fie on you! Quit throwing a wrench in my semi-suitable comparison measures! We went with pomegranate instead and I shared it with Jude, a fellow yogurt connoisseur. It was alright. If you aren't looking for something vastly different than regular yogurt it's a good compromise between the two extremes. Yummy like regular yogurt with a bit more to it, but nothing crazy.

The pomegranate included large seeds, which I imagine are no trouble for adults but confused the hell out of Jude who angrily spit out huge mouthfuls of yogurt in protest. Charmant! Overall it was a good compromise and certainly of excellent quality.

Day 6 • Greek Gods honey • yumminess: 7
At the recommendation of twitter (tell me is there anything you people don't know, besides my real name?) when the store was out of the others I gave the Greek Gods a go. Unlike the previous two winners the honey is premixed into the tub. However unlike the previous two losers the pre-mix is not a bad thing. Much like the Chobani it seems to be a bridge spanning the crazy super thick greek yogurt and standard yogurt. A hint of greeky flavor, slightly thick, nicely edible.

If I had eaten them in a different order I think the Greek Gods would have had an excellent report but after having the Athenos it fell a little flat. Yummy yogurt, nothing more. I preferred it over the Chobani, for no particular reason than because I did. Maybe it's because Chobani seems snooty.

Drawing very scientific conclusions...
I have more brands left to try (fage, in particular) but really it seems like my mind is already made up, doesn't it? ATHENOS, my heart, my love. My bones crave it. My soul is afire for Athenos's cheese-like yums! Nothing can tame my passions! And dear Dannon, the man on standby. (He's on deck this afternoon, actually.)

What I learned about greek yogurt that would be helpful to you: Your experience will differ vastly based on which brand you try (and try first) and your taste for savoy flavors. There's a wide range that can accommodate both those who don't want to get too crazy (Chobani, Greek Gods) and those who like it more crazy (Athenos).

Me? I'm all kinds of more crazy. Give me the hard stuff and let's get to it*.

Yogurt reporter OUT, give your men my best.
xoxoxoxox

*that's what she said
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