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.

12 Strange-But-Real Ice Cream Flavors

ipekata/iStock via Getty Images
ipekata/iStock via Getty Images

I scream, you scream, we all scream for … horse flesh ice cream? Okay, so maybe “we all" don’t. But some people do. A lot of people, in fact. Lobster, foie gras, and ghost pepper, too. Next time you’re craving an ice-cold cone, why not step out of your vanilla/chocolate comfort zone to try one of these 12 strange-but-real ice cream flavors.

1. Horse Flesh

There are two dozen attractions within Tokyo’s indoor amusement park, Namja Town, but it would be easy to spend all of your time there pondering the many out-there flavors at Ice Cream City, where Raw Horse Flesh, Cow Tongue, Salt, Yakisoba, Octopus, and Squid are among the flavors that have tickled (or strangled) visitors' taste buds.

2. Pickled Mango

As one of the country’s most decorated ice cream makers, Jeni Britton Bauer—proprietor of Ohio-based Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams—is constantly pushing the boundaries of unique treats, as evidenced by her lineup of limited edition flavors, including last summer's Pickled Mango (a cream cheese-based ice cream with a slightly spicy mango sauce made of white balsamic vinegar, white pepper, allspice, and clove) and this year's Goat Cheese With Red Cherries.

3. Corn on the Cob

Since opening Max & Mina’s in Queens, New York in 1998, brothers/owners Bruce and Mark Becker have created more than 5000 one-of-a-kind ice cream flavors, many of them adapted from their grandfather’s original recipes. Daily flavor experiments mean that the menu is ever-changing, but Corn on the Cob (a summer favorite), Horseradish, Garlic, Pizza, Lox, and Jalapeño have all made the lineup.

4. Foie Gras

New York City's OddFellows takes the "odd" in its name seriously, and has become synonymous with experimental flavors. Since opening their doors in 2013, they've concocted more than 300 different kinds of the cold stuff—including a Foie Gras varietal.

5. Pear and Blue Cheese

“Salty-sweet” is the preferred palette at Portland, Oregon-based Salt & Straw, where sugar and spice blend together nicely with flavors like Strawberry Honey Balsamic Strawberry With Cracked Pepper and Pear With Blue Cheese, a well-balanced mix of sweet Oregon Trail Bartlett Pears mixed with crumbles of Rogue Creamery's award-winning Crater Lake Blue Cheese. Yum?

6. Ghost Pepper

“Traditional” isn’t the word you’d choose to describe any of the 100 ice cream varieties at The Ice Cream Store in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. They don’t have vanilla, they have African Vanilla or Madagascar Vanilla Bean. But things only get wilder from there, and the shop’s proprietors clearly have a penchant for the spicy stuff. In addition to their Devil's Breath Carolina Reaper Pepper Ice Cream—a bright red vanilla ice cream mixed with cinnamon and a Carolina Reaper pepper mash—there's also the classic Ghost Pepper Ice Cream, which was featured in a Ripley's Believe It or Not book in 2016. Just be warned: you'll have to sign a waiver if you plan to order either flavor.

7. Bourbon and Corn Flake

You never know exactly which flavors will appear as part of the daily-changing lineup at San Francisco’s Humphry Slocombe, but they always make room for the signature Secret Breakfast. Made with bourbon and Corn Flakes, you’d better get there early if you want to try it; it sells out quickly and on a daily basis.

8. Fig and Fresh Brown Turkey

The sweet-toothed scientists at New York City’s Il Laboratorio del Gelato have never met a flavor they didn’t like—or want to turn into an ice cream. How else would one explain the popularity of their Fig & Fresh Brown Turkey gelato, a popular selection among the hundreds flavors they have created thus far. (Beet and Cucumber are just two of their other fascinating flavors.)

9. Lobster

Don’t let the “chocolate” in the title fool you: Ben & Bill’s Chocolate Emporium in Bar Harbor, Maine makes the most of The Pine Tree State’s most famous delicacy with its signature Lobster Ice Cream, a butter ice cream-based treat with fresh (again buttered) lobster folded into each bite.

10. Creole Tomato

The philosophy at New Orleans’ Creole Creamery is simple: “Eat ice cream. Be happy.” What’s not as easy is choosing from among their dozens of rotating ice creams, sorbets, sherbets and ices. But only the most daring of diners might want to swap out a sweet indulgence for something that sounds more like a salad, as it the case with the Creole Tomato.

11. Eskimo Ice Cream

If you happen to find yourself in an ice cream shop in Juneau, remember this: Eskimo ice cream—also known as Akutag—is not the same thing as an Eskimo Pie, that chocolate-covered ice cream bar you’ll find in just about any grocery store. Though the statewide delicacy has usually got enough fresh berries mixed in to satisfy one’s sweet tooth, its base is actually animal fat (reindeer, caribou, possibly even whale).

12. Cheetos

Big Gay Ice Cream started out as an experimental ice cream truck and morphed into one of New York City’s most swoon-worthy ice cream shops, where the toppings make for an inimitable indulgence. One of their most unique culinary inventions? A Cheetos-inspired cone, where vanilla and cheese ice cream is dipped in Cheetos dust.

Why Do People Get Ice Cream Headaches?

CharlieAJA, istock/getty images plus
CharlieAJA, istock/getty images plus

Reader Susann writes in to ask, "What exactly is the cause of brain freeze?"

You may know an ice cream headache by one of its other names: brain freeze, a cold-stimulus headache, or sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia ("nerve pain of the sphenopalatine ganglion"). But no matter what you call it, it hurts like hell.

Brain freeze is brought on by the speedy consumption of cold beverages or food. According to Dr. Joseph Hulihan—a principal at Paradigm Neuroscience and former associate professor in the Department of Neurology at the Temple University Health Sciences Center, ice cream is a very common cause of head pain, with about one third of a randomly selected population succumbing to ice cream headaches.

What Causes That Pain?

As far back as the late 1960s, researchers pinned the blame on the same vascular mechanisms—rapid constriction and dilation of blood vessels—that were responsible for the aura and pulsatile pain phases of migraine headaches. When something cold like ice cream touches the roof of your mouth, there is a rapid cooling of the blood vessels there, causing them to constrict. When the blood vessels warm up again, they experience rebound dilation. The dilation is sensed by pain receptors and pain signals are sent to the brain via the trigeminal nerve. This nerve (also called the fifth cranial nerve, the fifth nerve, or just V) is responsible for sensation in the face, so when the pain signals are received, the brain often interprets them as coming from the forehead and we perceive a headache.

With brain freeze, we're perceiving pain in an area of the body that's at a distance from the site of the actual injury or reception of painful stimulus. This is a quirk of the body known as referred pain, and it's the reason people often feel pain in their neck, shoulders, and/or back instead of their chest during a heart attack.

To prevent brain freeze, try the following:

• Slow down. Eating or drinking cold food slowly allows one's mouth to get used to the temperature.

• Hold cold food or drink in the front part of your mouth and allow it to warm up before swallowing.

• Head north. Brain freeze requires a warm ambient temperature to occur, so it's almost impossible for it to happen if you're already cold.

This story has been updated for 2019.

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