The origins of this food are very ancient and uncertain. It was probably discovered completely by accident: when milk is stored in bottles made from the skin or the stomach of animals, it may come into contact with certain types of enzymes and, as a result of warmth, would be transformed naturally into yoghurt.
The etymology of the word Yoghurt has a Caucasian origin, so it is believed to have been the Turkish-Altaic or Ural-Altaic populations that were responsible for its diffusion.
Following the extensive trade and military exchanges with the people who used it, yoghurt spread westward among the Phoenicians, Greeks, Egyptians and Romans. At the same time, it continued to spread eastward: the presence of yoghurt among the recipes of early books on Arabic cuisine and in the stories of The Thousand and One Nights shows that it had spread among the peoples of the Arabian Peninsula. Yoghurt was a great success in India, where today it is still one of the staples of the local diet.
Enshrouded with a legendary reputation as a panacea, a remedy for insomnia and tuberculosis, as well as an aid in the regeneration of the blood, yoghurt had never actually been analysed from a scientific point of view. So Ilya Ilyich Mechnikov, a Russian microbiologist, intrigued by the longevity of people in Bulgaria who made great use of yoghurt, was the first to study it in the laboratory. He was able to isolate the Lactobacillus bulgaricus, one of the organisms responsible for the fermentation of the milk. Believing that this lactobacillus was essential for good health, he managed to convince the entrepreneur Isaac Carasso to develop industrial technologies for the production of yoghurt.
In 1919, Carasso built the first commercial plant for the production of yoghurt in Barcelona, calling his company Danone, the name it still bears today.