The Interesting History of Frozen Yogurt


People across the United States love to eat frozen treats. It has been estimated that at least 90% of all American households will indulge in one on a regular basis. Frozen yogurt is a very popular option and as if the end of 2013, there were about 2,582 stores that sell it around the country.

In terms of frozen treats, frozen yogurt really is the new kid on the block. Gelato and ice cream have been around a lot longer. Some put early gelato formulas thousands of years in the past. With a birthday in the mid 1970s, frozen yogurt is really young!

There is evidence that people began enjoying frozen treats in Asia, thousands of years ago. This is when water ices were first created. Emperor Nero, in Rome, was said to enjoy pouring wines and juices from exotic fruits over snow. There is a lot of evidence that he served these to guests.

Marco Polo brought water ices back from Asia to Italy in the 13th century. This sparked new interest in the desserts and they became popular all over the continent. When colonists left Europe for the New World, they brought the technology to make early ice cream with them.

The 1800s were good for the development of ice cream and gelato. In the 1840s, Agnes Marshall from England and Nancy Johnson in the United States both created hand-cranked ice cream freezers. This put ice cream on a fast track for public support. Jacob Fussell created the first wholesale ice cream company in Baltimore soon after. Early flavors were oyster, vanilla and chocolate.

In the early 1900s pasteurization and homogenization technology was developed that improved the texture and healthfulness of the frozen products. When the continuous freezing process and the direct expansion freezer were developed, it became a lot easier to make ice cream and gelato New markets were opened for the product as refrigerators were invented and were popping up in American homes. People began buying it to take home and enjoy there.

To cater to a population that was looking for healthier options for their food, frozen yogurt was introduced in the United States in the 1970s. Dannon produced a product, they called it “Danny.” Consumers did not like it because it tasted just like regular yogurt that had been frozen. Frozen yogurt manufacturers went back to the drawing board and worked on a new formula that would taste more like ice cream but maintain the health benefits of yogurt.

Frozen yogurt makers finally found some success in the 1980s. Americans were all about working out and eating foods with less fat and fewer calories. Their interest in frozen yogurt took off as it began to be made available in a multitude of flavors rivaling the number that is available for ice cream and gelato. Soon, it was being served in the same ways ice cream was. You could get frozen yogurt cups and cones. Frozen yogurt is often seen as having an tangier taste than its ice cream cousin.

Sales of frozen yogurt leapt to $25 million in 1986. Major ice cream companies began to make frozen yogurt and early in the 1990s, the frozen treat was found to take up about 10% of the market for frozen desserts. Every year, nearly 135 million gallons of frozen yogurt were being bought. That is worth more than $330 million.

There are a lot of similarities in the way frozen yogurt is made compared to ice cream. The unique flavor comes from Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilous, two bacteria that are helpful for digestion. Bacteria makes up about 1% of the content of any yogurt. Just like ice cream, two of the most important ingredients for frozen yogurt. are air and water. The air is needed to give it the right volume.

Milk and milk products are also key in the manufacture of frozen yogurt. The fat content is lower than in ice cream or gelato and can be as low as 0.5% in low fat frozen yogurt. It is important to read the labels because some frozen yogurt varieties can have up to 6% fat.

Whether you like ice cream gelato or frozen yogurt, there are a lot of choices out there for people who love frozen treats.