Brand loyalty

A couple of months ago, my cousin John regaled me with tales of trips to the supermarket near his New Jersey home. Tears of laughter streamed down my face as he described a near stampede in the dairy aisle as people scrambled for cups of a freshly opened case of Chobani Greek-style yogurt.

While he succeeded in snagging a few, the experience was not without its disappointments for my 29-year old kin. They were raspberry, you see, and he was hoping for vanilla.

In retrospect, I should have been more sympathetic to his plight. But instead, I rubbed in how readily available Chobani is in our area, and bragged about it being produced right here in Chenango County.

I laughed at his obvious envy as I regaled him with a few stories of my own, namely about the tours I’ve taken of Agro Farma’s facility in Columbus and how I’d gotten to taste all three of their newest flavors before they were formally unveiled in January.

But I’m not completely heartless. I did offer to send him a case of the flavor of his choice. (Not exactly a hardship, since I don’t really like vanilla.)

All that braggadocio came back to bite me in the you-know-what a few weeks ago. That’s when we experienced what I refer to as The Great Chobani Shortage.

Day after day, I visited my friendly neighborhood supermarket, only to find the dairy case shelves barren. Well, that’s not strictly true. They were still heavily laden with yogurt. Just not the good stuff. Chobani. The shepherd’s gift. Food of the Gods. Manna from heaven.

Where art thou, Chobani? I moaned to myself, as I searched in vain for a stray cup of my favorite yogurt. Blueberry, strawberry, peach – I wouldn’t have cared what flavor. Heck, I would have even gone for a pomegranate if I could find one. (Not really a fan of the seeds, sorry. But I would have made do.)

I know there were others who strayed during those trying times, but I remained ever faithful to the brand. On each trip, I saw all those other yogurts lined up, calling my name. But in my heart I knew Chobani was the only one for me. All others pale in comparison to the creamy, all-natural, locally-produced goodness I’ve come to know and love. And so I stayed strong.

I wasn’t the only one forced to endure the hardships brought on by The Great Shortage, and before long an underground movement emerged on Facebook. If someone found a cache of Chobani somewhere, they’d let everyone know. Soon there were yogurt-crazed foodies racing to Service Pharmacy, then to New Berlin. A coworker of mine actually drove to Syracuse to stock up.

“They had tons of it,” she told me in between spoonfuls as I looked on enviously.

I may have been drooling. Thankfully, she was too kind – or too wrapped up in her peach-flavored bliss – to point it out. I slunk back to my desk and tried to drown my sorrows in the dregs of my morning coffee.

I had almost resigned myself to a Chobani-free existence when, as suddenly as it began, The Shortage ended. Chenango’s Greek-style yogurt lovers rejoiced – myself included. In fact, I may have shed a tear the first time I found my supermarket’s dairy case chock full of those colorful little cups once more.

Wait, who am I trying to kid? I wept openly as I loaded my cart with all of my favorite flavors.

Some day, I may be able to look back at The Great Chobani Shortage and laugh. But those wounds are still too fresh.

I have learned something from the experience, though. I now know that, while I can live without eating it every day, I don’t want to.

Never again will I laugh at another’s misfortune. Nor will I ever take a cup of Chobani’s all-natural, protein rich goodness for granted again.

With legions of fans like me, it’s no wonder Chobani is now the number one yogurt brand in the country. Congrats to Agro Farma on this latest accolade.

Viva, Chobani!

Follow me on Twitter ... @evesunmelissa.

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