Stop Hating Chobani… For the Wrong Reasons


I’m tired of the so-called “Greek yogurt wars” on the social media. Any time the word “Chobani” is even mentioned— the ultra-nationalists come out, screaming, yelling, invoking the memory of a hundred thousand dead souls from Smyrna and cries of “Remember Cyprus!”.

“He’s a Turk” people scream and yell in ALL CAPS. “Chobani isn’t Greek yogurt!” others yell. It’s definitely a hot topic on Facebook news feeds and Twitter profiles.

Nationalism is not a reason to hate. Save that for the World Cup and the Olympics.

“The Turkish” Chobani vs. “The Greek” Fage

Hamdi Ulukaya— the founder of Chobani may have been from Turkey, but he certainly isn’t that Turkish. First of all, he’s a naturalized U.S. citizen making him as American as my immigrant parents. But more importantly, he’s Kurdish, not Turkish by ethnicity. Ironically, all the Greek hate towards Mr. Ulukaya should actually be Greek love because historically, we Greeks have always loved and supported the Kurds. Kurds don’t like Turks. Turks certainly don’t like the Kurds. So where is the love, people? We should be celebrating this guy— the same way the Greeks hid Abdullah Ocalan and hailed him a hero back in the 1990s. Abdullah who? Just Google it. You’ll see.

OK, so Mister Chobani doesn’t appear to be the nicest guy in the world. His ex-wife filed a lawsuit against him alleging some pretty shady things— including stealing/buying the secret recipe for his “Greek yogurt” from an ex-employee of Fage. But the reputation of the founder or head of a company isn’t even a good reason to hate a product, either.

The real reason you should hate Chobani is only one. Basically, because Chobani is shit yogurt.

The company claims it uses only “all natural” products but given that the United States government still doesn’t regulate the word “natural” on consumer products, you can call a Three Musketeers bar all-natural and get away with it.

First of all they don’t thicken their yogurt the old fashioned way that your yiayia used to thicken it— by straining. They use products called pectin and locust bean gum to thicken their yogurt. That’s cheating Mister Ulukaya. Real Greek-style yogurt is made through straining. And the woman straining must be wearing black… (ok, that was my ode to all the yiayia yogurt makers out there, but not necessarily true)

Second of all there’s a lot of sugar in their yogurt but they sneak it into their ingredients by calling it “evaporated cane juice” which is about as sugary as sugar gets. Also, just how does that cane juice become evaporated? Does it happen “all naturally”?

Also… let’s talk about the milk they use for a second— a huge bone of contention with a lot of people— including the folks at Whole Foods who recently dropped Chobani from their shelves. Chobani’s cows are fed with GMOs— those nasty genetically modified organisms that everyone is protesting about these days. And speaking about milk, and Chobani’s “all-natural” claim… Just how does fat free and reduced fat milk become fat-free and reduced fat? The minute you start pulling fat out of milk, it certainly involves some sort of chemistry and non-natural process, doesn’t it?

Finally, add their secondary products to the mix— blueberries, pineapples and other flavorful fruit and you have a whole bunch of problems here. None of the fruit Chobani uses is organic and the minute you start popping non-organic blueberries and other fruit into your stomach, you’re taking a lot of potential pesticides down along with it.

Now, to be fair— there are a lot of healthy aspects to Chobani too— the high levels of protein, the live cultures and other aspects of yogurt that make it a healthier alternative to a chocolate bar.

Also to be even more fair— This isn’t a plug for Fage either. They’re not exactly angels, as far as I’m concerned. But I do prefer Fage over Chobani— but not because of “the Greek thing” but because overall, it’s a better product— somewhat.

First of all, the Fage you eat from your grocery store is also not as “Greek” as you would expect. It’s not made in Greece with Greek cows producing wholesome Greek milk. In fact, it’s made by a US-based subsidiary of a Greek company that moved its corporate headquarters to Luxembourg in October 2012— the height of the Greek financial crisis (a psychological blow to a country on its knees).

Fage also makes its yogurt from the same New York cows, breathing the same New York air that Chobani’s cows are breathing and most startlingly— Fage feeds its cows those same nasty genetically modified organisms (GMOs) just like Chobani does. I’m not crazy about GMOs and you shouldn’t be either.

Fage doesn’t add the fillers that Chobani uses but there’s still a lot of sugar in some of their products— one lawsuit recently compared eating some varieties of Fage to eating cookies.

Yes. I’m a Greek yogurt fan… but to be honest, no one makes it like my mom. Sorry Chobani and Fage.




  1. Great article Greg! These "fake" Americanized Greek style yogurts I only consider to be snacks and not real life giving foods and should be treated as such. They are just a sweet treat.

  2. For all those health nuts, it is better to get a plain greek yogurt, cut an apple or other fruit in it and add some chopped walnuts and sprinkle some cinamon. Or for a special treat, mix in it some lemon juice and some honey.

  3. Greg your Greek but Im confused your standing up for the Turk that he's Kurdish that suppose to change everyones thoughts and rights
    We're Greek and we protect our original tougher made in 1923 Fage
    Chobani and his owner can dissapear go hybernate for good
    Zito H Ellas
    U should be ashamed to what you wrote twisted mind you are

    • Tina thank you– having a twisted mind is one of the best compliments I’ve ever received. Who wants a boring, bland, basic mind anyway? Standing up for the Turk? My dear Tina, do you read English? When you can discern between sarcasm, satire and reality– then please continue to comment. Until then, please stop commenting because you are only embarrassing yourself. Oh, and please read the whole article– if you know how to read. Have a great day, Greg with the “twisted mind” (and loving it)!

  4. Chobani yogurt is just yoplait with a different wrapper. My #1 reason for hating it is that the company has spent so much money purchasing shelf space at grocery stores that it has purchased the local and regional yogurts either out of the store, or given them much smaller shelf space which is the equivalent to having empty shelves of my favorite brand.

  5. Agatha Mantanes on

    I agree the only real Greek yogurt is the one you make at home with out preservatives and whole milk without GMO any other no matter ware it comes from is only imitation.

  6. Janet Giarmidis on

    I watched the 60 minutes episode on which they did an interview with the Chobani founder. I found it most interesting the fact he went back to Turkey to bring”the preeminent”Greek yogurt expert MUSTAFA to make his companies yogurt. Last I checked whether Mustafa is kurdish or Turkish makes no difference, he is not Greek and I like to support Greek owned companies first and foremost.

  7. Tina thank you– having a twisted mind is one of the best compliments I’ve ever received. Who wants a boring, bland, basic mind anyway? Standing up for the Turk? My dear Tina, do you read English? When you can discern between sarcasm, satire and reality– then please continue to comment. Until then, please stop commenting because you are only embarrassing yourself. Oh, and please read the whole article– if you know how to read. Have a great day, Greg with the “twisted mind” (and loving it)!

  8. Diana Moutsopoulos on

    Great article and I totally agree. Fage don't even use 100% Greek milk for their yoghurt sold in Greece – it says so right on the containers that you buy in Greece (my aunt stopped buying it because of that).

    In the US I buy a big tub of goat's milk yoghurt and a big tub of sheep's milk yoghurt. I strain the goat's milk yoghurt till thick as cheese. I mix that with the sheep's milk yoghurt, which is already thick, et voila! I get the closest thing to real Greek yoghurt that I can find!

    For those who might tell me to make my own – tried that, several times, using goat's milk. I just cannot get the goat's milk yoghurt to set well, however, and ended up spending about $20 in goat's milk to get barely a pint of strained yoghurt. If anyone has any tips on making goat's milk yoghurt, do share!

    Finally, most of the time my ill feelings towards Chobani have to do with the fact that they've gained market share and have become a household name, with Fage has lagged behind. I don't blame this on Chobani, however, I blame it on Fage. Chobani had the foresight to open yoghurt bars in NYC, for example, while Fage did not. Chobani invested heavily in marketing, while Fage didn't try to compete on the same level. So in the end, while I wish Fage were more popular than Chobani, only Fage is to blame for being so far behind.

  9. Good article Greg. In my opinion Greek yogurt has evolved to indicate the yogurt that has the consistency of strained yogurt and has nothing to do with the country of Greece. Similar to French fries indicating fried potatoes or English muffins indicating round thin muffins. Now as to quality, the consumers must be careful and the food regulators must put some restrictions as to what certain words mean .

  10. Anastasia Koliopoulos on

    My mom used to make her own yogurt (in Omaha, NE). She doesn’t do it as much anymore (she is 81). She wears floral dresses every day!!

  11. Cleaver. This article should have been titled “Stop hating the Chobani yogurt – I am sending you the Trojan Horse” to toss all the dirt I can, because I can’t stand the fact that a Turkish guy is making millions on the expense of the Greek name. (Soon a Chinese guy is gone sell us some water called Greek water, and Americans will drink it (Americans like clichés they eat everything). But is yogurt a Greek exclusivity, “old as their ancient history”? Of course Not. As many nationalities make their homemade yogurt, better than the Greek or Turkish one, Is gone take another Trojan horse to make me accept as true that “Greeks have always loved and supported the Kurds”…. Really?! Greeks like nobody, nobody, and nobody.

  12. I am a Turk. I prefer Fage. To be honest, Chobani is neither Greek or Turkish yogurt. Almost all type and flavor of Chobani taste like crap. I prefer home made yogurt but my grandma passed away long. And please stop lies about Turks and Kurds hating each other. Turks do not hate the Kurds and Kurds do not hate the Turks. What we are against is the PKK/PYD/YPG/PJAK etc. and the piece of shit Abdullah Ocalan. Builder of our house was Kurdish, my economics professor was Kurdish, my boss was Kurdish, my next door neighbor during my childhood was Kurdish. We all got along until the piece of shit PKK and the like. One of my best friend during college years was Greek. Stop this hate crap and move on, people.

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