People have been enjoying yoghurt for thousands of years. Once a staple of Middle Eastern and Eastern European diets, yoghurt is now a common food item marketed for its many healthy benefits.
Yoghurt is thought to have originated in the Middle East. It may have been yoghurt that Pliny the Elder was describing when he wrote about certain nomadic tribes knowing how to "thicken the milk into a substance of agreeable acidity." Some of the earliest references to yoghurt come from descriptions of Medieval Turks.
In the early 1900s yoghurt was transformed from a staple food in the Middle East and Eastern Europe into a health food when the Bulgarian doctor Stamen Grigorov described the structure of its bacteria. Inspired by Grigorov, the Nobel laureate Elie Metchnikoff theorised that regular consumption of yoghurt explained the long lifespans of Bulgarian peasants and began promoting it as essential for health. In 1919, the Spanish doctor Isaac Carosso began the Danone company to manufacture yoghurt. In 1929, he moved the operation to France.
Yoghurt was brought to the United States by Armenian immigrants. The first yoghurt company in the United States was Colombo and Sons Creamery founded in Andover, Massachusetts by Sarkis and Rose Colombosian in 1929. During the German occupation of France, Danone moved to the United States to escape persecution and began doing business as Dannon. It introduced innovations such as yoghurt prepackaged with jam throughout the 1940s and '50s. The health food movement of the 1960s and '70s cemented yoghurts' place on store shelves.