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What is yogurt? Yogurt is a kind of cheese. A custardlike food with a tart flavor, prepared from milk curdled by bacteria, especially Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus, and often sweetened or flavored with fruit. Yogurt, fermented milk product prepared from fresh whole or skim milk, or from soy milk. Fermentation is caused by the addition of bacteria cultures, usually Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus, and sometimes Lactobacillus acidophilus. New batches of yogurt can be produced by introducing into concentrated milk a portion of a previously prepared batch. This type of fermented milk has been a constituent of the diet in southeastern Europe and Asia Minor since ancient times. Today it is popular throughout the world.

There is evidence of cultured milk products being produced as food for at least 4,500 years. The earliest yoghurts were probably spontaneously fermented by wild bacteria living on the goat skin bags carried by nomadic people. Today, many different countries claim yoghurt as their own invention, yet there is no clear evidence as to where it was first discovered, though many believe it was first created in Bulgaria.

The use of yoghurt by mediaeval Turks is recorded in the books Diwan Lughat al-Turk by Mahmud Kashgari and Kutadgu Bilig by Yusuf Has Hajib written in the eleventh century. In both texts the word "yoghurt" is mentioned in different sections and its use by nomadic Turks is described. The first account of a European encounter with yoghurt occurs in French clinical history: Francis I suffered from a severe diarrhea which no French doctor could cure. His ally Suleiman the Magnificent sent a doctor, who allegedly cured the patient with yoghurt.

Until the 1900s, yoghurt was a staple in diets of the South Asian, Central Asian, Western Asian, South Eastern European and Central European regions. The Russian biologist Ilya Ilyich Mechnikov had an unproven hypothesis that regular consumption of yoghurt was responsible for the unusually long lifespans of Bulgarian peasants. Believing Lactobacillus to be essential for good health, Mechnikov worked to popularise yoghurt as a foodstuff throughout Europe. It fell to a Sephardic Jewish entrepreneur named Isaac Carasso to industrialise the production of yoghurt. In 1919, Carasso, who was from Salonika, started a small yoghurt business in Barcelona and named the business Danone ("little Daniel") after his son. The brand later expanded to the United States under an Americanised version of the name: Dannon. Yoghurt with added fruit jam was invented to protect yoghurt from decay. It was patented in 1933 by the Radlická Mlékárna dairy in Prague, and introduced to the United States in 1947, by Dannon.

Yoghurt was first introduced to the United States by Armenian immigrants Sarkis and Rose Colombosian, who started "Colombo and Sons Creamery" in Andover, Massachusetts in 1929[citation needed]. Colombo Yogurt was originally delivered around New England in a horse-drawn wagon inscribed with the Armenian word "madzoon" which was later changed to "yogurt", the Turkish name of the product, as Turkish was the lingua franca between immigrants of the various Near Eastern ethnicities who were the main consumers at that time. Yoghurt's popularity in the United States was enhanced in the 1950s and 60's when it was presented as a health food. By the late 20th century yoghurt had become a common American food item and Colombo Yogurt was sold to General Mills in 1993.

Etymology and spelling
The word is derived from Turkish yogurt,[2] and is related to yogurmak 'to knead' and yogun 'dense' or 'thick'. The letter g was traditionally rendered as "gh" in transliterations of Turkish, which used to be written in a variant of the Arabic alphabet until the introduction of the Latin alphabet in 1928. In older Turkish the letter denoted a voiced velar fricative /?/, but this sound is elided between back vowels in modern Turkish, in which the word is pronounced [jo'u?t]. Some eastern dialects retain the consonant in this position, and Turks in the Balkans pronounce the word with a hard /g/.

In English, there are several variations of the spelling of the word. In the United States, yogurt is the usual spelling and yoghurt a minor variant. In the United Kingdom, yoghurt and yogurt are both current, yoghurt being more common, and yoghourt is an uncommon alternative.[4] Canada uses mostly yogurt and yogourt, the latter being particularly common in bilingual packaging, as it is also the spelling in Canadian French; in Australia and New Zealand yoghurt prevails.

Whatever the spelling, the word is pronounced with a short "o" in the UK, a long or short "o" in New Zealand, and with a long "o" in North America, Ireland and Australia.

Further information: American and British English spelling differences

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