This is a follow up to my previous post, which started out as a very mundane blog about working with my supplier to get credit for an expired (and soon-expiring) shipment of Greek yogurt, but which then turned toward an exploration of the word “chobani” and its implications.
I found my first clue that something interesting may be at work here when I looked at the wikipedia article for chobani. Apparently the company is run by a Turkish immigrant, Hamdi Ulukaya, who bought a defunct Kraft yogurt factory to launch the company in 2005. Before that he founded and ran Euphrates, and feta cheese company.
Wikipedia explains that chobani is derived from the Persian word for “shepherd,” which translates literally into “he who carries a stick.” It is an Anglicized version of the Greek and Turkish word “coban.”
So, why isn’t it Turkish yogurt or Persian yogurt. It’s because Greek yogurt is in vogue. And greek culture (ha!) has been in vogue in the United States since its inception because it’s considered the cradle of western civilization’s intellectual history.
There is something going on here with culture (both human and dairy) and power and history. Is chobani a symbolic shepherd tending to its flocks? Is there some sort of religious undercurrent to the brand? Does the company use a portion of its profits to support certain religious or military organizations? Or, was the term chosen simply because of its historical connections to the production of food? So many interesting questions and potential implications.
Write The Company got some good explanatory feedback directly from Chobani. See here: http://writethecompany.com/whats-greek-chobani