Testing yogurt makers probably isn’t for everyone, but my mother, Rommy, would have been first in line for such an assignment. Oddly enough, Rommy never liked milk by the glass, but she was smitten with yogurt by the spoonful.
My earliest yogurt recollection is linked to our local A&P supermarket circa 1960- something. At that time, waxy paper containers of Dannon yogurt sold for 29 cents a piece. Strawberry was our flavor of choice, though blueberry and Dutch apple also found their way into the shopping cart. I didn’t consider yogurt a health food, but more of a fun food. Not quite as rewarding as unrolling a Yodel or unearthing the peanut butter filling in a Funny Bone, yogurt was however, interactive. Stirring the fruit on the bottom tinted the stark white yogurt a pleasing shade of berry pink or blue or peachy orange. Ultimately my yogurt preference changed, leaning towards straight-up flavors; vanilla, lemon, and coffee.
In the early 70s my mother purchased a Salton yogurt maker. The trim, sunny yellow appliance quietly incubated 5 cups of yogurt with little fuss. Conveniently packaged with a thermometer-spoon, beyond heating the milk and adding a few spoonfuls of starter, the process was pretty easy to embrace. The flavor, however, was not nearly as pleasing. Teetering on abrasively tart, my sister and I preferred store bought to homemade. Despite my mother’s best intentions, the fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt retained its prominent place in the fridge while the milk glass Salton jars were the last pick.
It’s interesting to note that Dannon yogurt containers were not solely used for yogurt. For many years, a certain delicatessen on the lower east side of Manhattan turned to the waxy cartons, utilizing them as take-out mustard containers. Which meant odds were slim (but still possible) that if you weren’t paying close attention in the wee hours of the morning, a brown bag lunch nightmare might become a reality. Just ask my sister who has yet to completely recover from peeling back the lid of what she thought was fruit-on-the-bottom Dannon only to discover Katz’s deli mustard staring back.
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