Over the years, we’ve heard from the parents of thousands of babies—including our own—who have grown up on YoBaby Yogurt. (Not to mention a good number of adults, big kids, and Stonyfield employees too!) We were the first in the country to make an organic yogurt specifically crafted for babies and focused on the right nutrition and a taste little ones love. We’re proud to say we’re still creating the same beloved product today and proud to make a pure, organic food parents can trust in.
All of us here are moved by the great YoBaby love stories we hear (through emails, phone calls, Facebook posts, and friends) and excited to add new generations of YoBaby Yogurt eaters to our family each year. A decade after our start in 1999, we thought it would be fun to look back on the beginnings of YoBaby and to meet some of the babies who have grown up loving YoBaby.
I sat down with Gary this past week to chat about how YoBaby came to be and what the brand has meant to him. Read his story, and then send us an email with your own – we would love to hear it!
How did you first learn about the benefit of yogurt for babies?
The idea started many years ago when my kids were young. My first child – Alex, who turns 23 this month – had severe ear infections as a baby. We took him to a homeopath in town to try to help ease his pain and I remember him barking at us saying, “why don’t you feed him your yogurt?!” He said it’s not ear infections but a milk allergy. He recommended feeding him the good cultures in yogurt and removing all the milk from his diet. He said go home, put yogurt in the blender and blend it until it is smooth and then put it in his bottle.
We followed his advice and within hours (and I do mean HOURS!) Alex had stopped crying and never had another ear infection. We fed our next two kids yogurt as babies too and they never had any problems.
I remember the homeopath thinking we were so silly. We were making yogurt 50 feet from where Alex was screaming and yet not feeding it to him.
So when did you consider producing your own baby yogurt?
In 1994 or 1995 I went on a trip to Europe with my wife Meg and our kids. We were in the grocery store and whole milk yogurt for babies and kids was everywhere. It seemed it was a staple of all babies’ diets, just part of what you fed them. And ,you know, all this baby/kid yogurt was was regular whole milk yogurt.
It got me thinking. I realized that we had had this tremendous experience in our own lives and we hadn’t translated it to helping others. We had literally seen yogurt make our own sick kid healthy. It was like a light bulb went off for me then. What became YoBaby started to become a really important idea. It really stemmed from my family’s own experience with Alex.
After YoBaby was introduced, what was the response like?
It was probably the single fastest and greatest success we’ve ever had. I mean, it really literally was an overnight success. Right away sales went soaring. We had difficulty keeping up with it! When we first made YoBaby it was in this paper wrap and this was a troublesome machine and we actually had a hard time keeping up with the demand for it. People really got it and it was interesting, too, because it was obvious it wasn’t just babies who were eating it.
Are there any particular YoBaby eater stories that have moved you over the years?
I would say I don’t go through a day without somebody telling me that YoBaby saved their family and their kids’ lives. It’s the only thing their kids are eating. I mean, I gave these commencement addresses in the last two weeks and I shook a lot of hands after. Every third comment was “I’ve got little kids and they only eat YoBaby.”
The usual comment is that my kid doesn’t finish the whole cup so I get to share it with them. You know: one for me, one for you, one for me, one for you. The first ad we ever did with YoBaby showed a baby with our yogurt all over her and it said: “Introducing the Healthiest Yogurt Your Child Will Ever Wear.” That was because that was the feedback we were getting from moms. People were sending us dozens of photos showing YoBaby from head to toe, all over. They still send them today and now they post them on our YoBaby Facebook page.
And what do you hope for the next decade of YoBaby Yogurt?
I think YoBaby is to this day one of – not to pick favorites – but I think it’s one of the very best things that we make. It’s certainly the most targeted and most appropriate. If you have a baby and you’re trying to transition that baby to solid food, there’s literally nothing else that you should be feeding than this product. Along with Greek, it’s one of our leading products and we’ll continue to add more offerings.
I just think it’s great. It’s going to grow as our population grows. The interesting thing about this product line is that you have a new customer every single day and they also are gone within 9 to 15 months, which is why we created something specially for the next stage in a child’s development- YoToddler.
We can almost watch how many babies are being produced out there by watching the sales of this product. So as long as babies are being produced, I expect it’s going to keep growing right alongside them.
>Click here to watch the Interview with Gary Hirshberg as he tells the story of YoBaby.
Have your own YoBaby story? Share it here in our comments or send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org!