8 Facts about Yoplait

iStock/memoriesarecaptured
iStock/memoriesarecaptured

Yoplait is one of the world's largest and most famous yogurt brands—it's available in more than 50 countries and has offered creamy and delicious yogurts since the 1960s. With products such as Yoplait Whips, Go-Gurt, Yoplait Greek 100, and Plenti, Yoplait is known for its wide variety of flavors, far from the standard vanilla and strawberry. Dessert-centric options like Boston cream, sea salt caramel, and cheesecake work to get consumers to consider yogurt as snacks and non-breakfast meals. Below, we've whipped up some facts you might not know about the brand.

1. Yoplait is an amalgamation of the dairies Yola and Coplait.

In 1964, six regional French dairy cooperatives joined forces to create and sell yogurt and other products on a national scale. The six co-ops, consisting of 100,000 French dairy farmers, merged to create one company called Sodima. By the following year, Sodima was ready to debut their signature yogurt, which they named Yoplait after two of the most well-known member co-ops, Yola and Coplait.

2. One of the original Yoplait logos was a cow named Michonnette.

Yoplait's current logo is a flower with five red and orange petals, but the yogurt company originally had two logos. The first logo was a flower with six petals, one for each of the six dairy co-ops, and the other logo was of a cow named Michonnette. Michonnette appeared supine on her back with her udders pointed up, milk spraying out of them and directly into Yoplait containers. For Yoplait's launch in 1965 in Paris, the company had a real cow representing Michonnette in the event's lobby.

3. A Michigan cottage cheese company introduced Yoplait to America.

container of Yoplait yogurt
Like_the_Grand_Canyon, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Yoplait became widely available in the United States when William Bennet, the president and CEO of the Michigan Cottage Cheese Company, got the licensing rights to begin making and marketing Yoplait in the States in 1975. Bennet equipped his factory in Reed City, Michigan, to make and package yogurt, and soon he couldn't keep up with demand. In 1977, General Mills entered a franchise agreement to market Yoplait in the U.S. and acquired the Michigan Cottage Cheese Company's yogurt plant.

4. Yoplait invented a drinkable yogurt.

Yoplait invented drinkable yogurt in 1974, called Yop. The yogurt drink was a success in France, and it spread to the United Kingdom, Ireland, Belgium, Switzerland, Spain, and Canada. Yop is available in various flavors (such as strawberry, raspberry, and blueberry) depending on the country it's in, but it has limited availability in the U.S.

5. Yoplait's container design is tough on wildlife …

After videos of skunks getting their heads stuck in Yoplait containers were posted online, The Humane Society brought awareness to the problem. "The skunk that doesn't get found dies a horrible death. They suffocate because there's not much air in those cups. They may get hit by cars when they run across roadways," said Laura Simon of the Humane Society's Urban Wildlife Program. Because Yoplait containers have a uniquely narrow opening and wider base, skunks, squirrels, and other small animals searching for food can get their heads stuck in the containers.

6. … even after Yoplait attempted a redesign 20 years ago to protect the animals.

After animal advocates petitioned General Mills to redesign Yoplait containers, the company added a warning—"protect wildlife; crush cup before disposal"—on the containers in 1998. Some animal advocates, though, didn't think the changes were enough to protect wildlife because the warning is in small print, the opening of the container is still narrow and the flange at the rim traps the animals, and crushing the cup is difficult.

7. Yoplait had a product placement shoutout in Mr. Mom.

In 1983, Yoplait got a mention in the film Mr. Mom. In the scene where Jack Butler (Michael Keaton) plays poker with a group of housewives, they don't use poker chips or money for betting. Instead, they use coupons for popular food products, including Domino's and Yoplait.

8. Ads for Yoplait's Plenti feature a cover of Men at Work's song "Down Under."

To capitalize on the popularity of Greek yogurt and compete with Greek yogurt companies such as Chobani and Fage, Yoplait created Plenti. A Greek yogurt, Plenti comes with whole grain oats, flaxseeds, and pepitas. To get customers excited about Plenti, Yoplait released commercials featuring a reworked version of "Down Under" by Men At Work. The early 1980s song originally featured the line "I said to the man, 'Are you trying to tempt me/Because I come from the land of plenty?'" in its third verse, but was rewritten new lyrics about oats, berries, peaches, pumpkin seeds, and cherries in the mythical Land of Plenti.

The Great Tryptophan Lie: Eating Turkey Does Not Make You Tired

H. Armstrong Roberts/iStock via Getty Images
H. Armstrong Roberts/iStock via Getty Images

While you’re battling your cousins for the best napping spot after Thanksgiving dinner, feel free to use this as a diversion tactic: It’s a myth that eating turkey makes you tired.

It’s true that turkey contains L-Tryptophan, an amino acid involved in sleep. Your body uses it to produce a B vitamin called niacin, which generates the neurotransmitter serotonin, which yields the hormone melatonin, which helps regulate your sleeping patterns. However, plenty of other common foods contain comparable levels of tryptophan, including other poultry, meat, cheese, yogurt, fish, and eggs.

Furthermore, in order for tryptophan to produce serotonin in your brain, it first has to make it across the blood-brain barrier, which many other amino acids are also trying to do. To give tryptophan a leg up in the competition, it needs the help of carbohydrates. Registered dietitian Elizabeth Somer tells WebMD that the best way to boost serotonin is to eat a small, all-carbohydrate snack a little while after you’ve eaten something that contains tryptophan, and the carbs will help ferry the tryptophan from your bloodstream to your brain.

But Thanksgiving isn’t exactly about eating small, well-timed snacks. It’s more about heaps of potatoes, mountains of stuffing, and generous globs of gravy—and that, along with alcohol, is more likely the reason you collapse into a spectacular food coma after your meal. Overeating (especially of foods high in fat) means your body has to work extra hard to digest everything. To get the job done, it redirects blood to the digestive system, leaving little energy for anything else. And since alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, it also slows down your brain and other organs.

In short, you can still hold turkey responsible for your Thanksgiving exhaustion, but you should make sure it knows it can share the blame with the homestyle mac and cheese, spiked apple cider, and second piece of pumpkin pie.

[h/t WebMD]

How Mammoth Poop Gave Us Pumpkin Pie

MargoeEdwards/iStock via Getty Images
MargoeEdwards/iStock via Getty Images

When it’s time to express gratitude for the many privileges bestowed upon your family this Thanksgiving, don’t forget to be grateful for mammoth poop. The excrement of this long-extinct species is a big reason why holiday desserts taste so good.

Why? Because, as Smithsonian Insider reports, tens of thousands of years ago, mammoths, elephants, and mastodons had an affinity for wild gourds, the ancestors of squashes and pumpkin. In a 2015 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a Smithsonian researcher and colleagues found that wild gourds—which were much smaller than our modern-day butternuts—carried a bitter-tasting toxin in their flesh that acted as a deterrent to some animals. While small rodents would avoid eating the gourds, the huge mammals would not. Their taste buds wouldn't pick up the bitter flavor and the toxin had no effect on them. Mammoths would eat the gourds and pass the indigestible seeds out in their feces. The seeds would then be plopped into whatever habitat range the mammoth was roaming in, complete with fertilizer.

When the mammoths went extinct as recently as 4000 years ago, the gourds faced the same fate—until humans began to domesticate the plants, allowing for the rise of pumpkins. But had it not been for the dispersal of the seeds via mammoth crap, the gourd might not have survived long enough to arrive at our dinner tables.

So as you dig into your pumpkin pie this year, be sure to think of the heaping piles of dung that made the delicious treat possible.

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