Having squeezed my share of pouches and downed my share of bars in the six years since my firstborn son poked his old man head from my old lady’s body, I greet each new snack proffered with extreme wariness. Nevertheless, through the gloaming of bland caloric smudge, there have been a bright spots. Perhaps chief among them, Happy Family Organic Yogis, a constellation of easily eaten and inevitably enjoyed freeze-dried probiotic snack food. Long after my son jettisoned them — and then, his younger brother, too — I still sneakily add them to the Amazon shopping cart and, when they arrive, spirit them to my own personal snack cabinet (bottle of Glenfidditch, dime bag, pack of American Spirit lights). And on those nights when I’m feeling too virtuous to smoke or it’s just too damn cold outside, I tear open a package and let a sour-sweet token of time’s passage dissolve on my tongue.
Kid Food Origin Story: Like M&M’s and cargo pants, the technology behind these freeze-dried frozen yogurt snacks is a direct outgrowth of World War II. So much blood was being spilled in Europe and so much was needed from the home for the fields of battle, the U.S. Army had to find a way to both transport and refrigerate blood serum. They landed on freeze-drying, a process by which a material — blood, yogurt, whatever — is first frozen and then its water content sublimed directly from solid to gas. Many years later, during a happier period of history, a student at Columbia’s Business School named Shazi Visram saw a soft spot on the market for healthy children’s snacks. So on Mother’s Day 2006, Happy Family organic snacks was born.
The company is perhaps best known for introducing pouches to the market but, to me, its singular accomplishment are these small dots of frozen yogurt. The yogurt comes in many flavors. My preference for the original mixed berry — as opposed to the newer tarter Blueberry Purple Carrot Greek Yogis — has more to do with where I was in my life when I first tasted them than any inherent flavor qualities.
Regardless of your flavor preference, the main strength of these Yogis — and yogurt in general — is the existence of probiotics, which are the bomb diggity. The main argument for freeze dried yogurt snacks is that the lack of moisture directly translates into not having to spend as much time in the forensic cleaning of your child’s face, arms, clothes, surrounding hard surfaces, carpet, and hair as they do enjoying it.
Kid Food Taste Test: My kids now regard these snacks with the suspicion and distaste with which they look upon their floaties and fidget spinners. But now, they tell me, they are big boys, and have put aside childish things. Nevertheless, when bribed with other more adult snacks to romp back into the culinary habits of the past, they pop the Yogis into their mouth and become tiny Prousts in the playroom. “I remember this!” squeals the older one with pleasure. The small dots dissolve on his tongue, or rather, do not fully dissolve but soften. There are, as in so many things in life, choices on how to proceed. My older son lets the small yogurt disk dissolve on his tongue. My younger son bites down (from where I stand, I can hear the pleasurable crack of the dried discus breaking) then shoves a whole handful into his mouth until his cheeks puff out like a blowfish and a thin purple-hued rivulet of saliva dribbles from his chin. I hope he will develop manners.
Though I am annoyed at the barbarian gluttony of my children, I also watch them eat Yogis an appreciation for the moment because someday they will not behave like animals and I will be old and the days when I was their snack hookup will be in the rearview. The joy of their uninhibited delight is fleeting, ethereal, and (dare I say it?) probiotic.
Kid Food Conclusion: Freeze-dried yogurt snacks are like virtuous Doritos. And since the only thing preventing Doritos from being the best things in the world is that they are the perfect triangulation of corporate greed, human folly and chemical havoc, freeze dried yogurt snacks are the great things in the world.
Kid Food Rating: Five out of five American Spirit Lights.