Dairy food

I was thinking about dairy food today when it occurred to me that New Zealand might be the only place in the world to have dairy food.

I’ve been googling and indeed the only websites I can find that have “dairy food” associated with that stuff in the supermarket fridge near the yoghurt (not describing cheese and milk products) are to do with New Zealand. Calci-yum, Calci Strong and Vigueur appear to be it. They don’t even seem to have dairy food in Australia.

I’ve tried to find out what it’s called in other countries, or indeed if it exists in other countries. From what I’ve been able to figure out, the yoghurt-like thing for children tends to be either fromage frais or sweet yoghurt. Stuff that resembles dairy food is more likely to be called a custard or pudding, and sold as a dessert treat for adults.

So where did this mysterious dairy food stuff come from? Based on info from my high school home economics teacher and some oral history from my mum, the story is something like this.

It was the 1970s and yoghurt was a trendy health food but New Zealand yoghurt was rubbish. It used to ferment and go off in the pot. You’d buy half a dozen pots and only one of them was good enough to eat. So a kind of fake yoghurt was invented that didn’t rely on those unpredictable cultures. Then a concerned citizen looked at it and said, “Hey! This is not yoghurt!” The relevant people investigated and indeed it was discovered that it was not yoghurt and was, in fact, goopy sweet stuff. It was declared that yoghurt had to be that goopy less-sweet, slightly sour stuff made from a culture, while the goopy sweet stuff was renamed dairy food.

Interestingly enough, Calci-Yum has a flavour trio called “Kiwi”, which is milk chocolate, hokey pokey, and milkshake (as in those Milkshake lollies!). But if, as indeed appears to be the case, dairy food is unique to New Zealand, then surely any flavour of dairy food is a Kiwi flavour?