By Sophia Yakumithis
I approach trendy lifestyle brands like Goop, founded by self-proclaimed health guru Gwyneth Paltrow, with serious caution. Minimalistic, all-lowercase claims to groundbreaking herbal formulas that will totally rejuvenate your vaginal health are typically a facade put up by rich white women to hold themselves to a higher importance than just “soccer mom.”
In the same vein, I’m skeptic to food trends.
2020 started less than a month ago, and oat milk is arguably the spearhead of this decade’s food trends. The dairy alternative, which is just rolled oats blended with water and strained, has become increasingly popular in recent months. Walk into any supermarket — especially “health food” stores such as Whole Foods — and you’ll be bombarded with appropriation of oat milk in every way made possible, from chocolate bars, ice cream, yogurt to even CBD-infused oat milk lattes.
For years, oat milk was a commodity in the black market. The Swedish brand Oatly defied the trade, sweeping through pretentious coffee shops across New York City, ultimately breaking ground and working its way across the U.S. — baristas manicured to function as its elite gatekeepers. While the beverage might be new to your refrigerator shelf, that’s only because Oatly rebranded itself in 2016, lifting its marketing ploy off the shoulders of small businesses and allotting the responsibility to big franchises.
Oatly’s sleeker, edgier campaign in the U.S. commercialized oat milk craze is now fed into by dozens of other manufacturers (among them Silk’s “Oat Yeah,” Planet Oat, et cetera.).
Like I said, I’m hesitant towards anything aggressively trendy, but I’m also an aggressive fan of oats. I’ve written a 1000-word piece about Quaker’s Dino Oats, so I could easily go on about oat milk all day.
My spiritual awakening was on Jan. 5, involving a carton of Chobani’s “Plain Extra Creamy” oat milk. The Greek yogurt brand launched its oat milk line at the end of last year, appealing to vegans and the gluten intolerant community. After trying the drink mixed with a chai tea blend, I felt as though I reached salvation, ascending to a state of divine prophecy. I almost cried.
That experience spawned an obsession. A few days later, I still couldn’t get it off my mind. I found myself in Whole Foods’ frozen aisle around its 10 p.m. closing time, and Oatly’s Oat Ice Cream was so to-die-for that night that I fell into a food coma, woke up hours later and scurried down the stairs at 3 a.m. in nothing but my underwear to put more of this blessed elixir into my body. After that episode, it was yogurt time.
Our old friend Chobani happens to be known for its yogurt products. But unfortunately, their vanilla-flavored oat milk yogurt did not deliver. I was led astray. Trust no one.
The gelatinous mess was neither solid nor liquid, falling unsettlingly somewhere in between. I also expected it to contain actual oats, like an overnight oats type thing, but it did not. Its taste was lackluster and sour, which I suspected was due to the lack of sugar… except it contains 13 grams. I was devastated.
However, I persisted. Next I picked up dairy-alternative brand So Delicious’ “Spiced Pear & Fig” oat yogurt, which contained real fruit and, ironically, less sugar. While this option was more flavorful, the consistency was still off. Determined to conclude on a positive note, I found peace with Chobani’s “Apple Spice with Brown Sugar Oatmeal” yogurt. While it’s made from regular Greek yogurt (and packed with sugar), it’s a happy medium, as it contains real fruit and oats on the bottom. All is well.
I think this sweet, sacred nectar might replace some of my other vices. My lungs will thank me for that, but so will my gut flora due to the drink’s high fiber content. Oat milk is a gift, a way of life and it should be protected at all costs.
What I’m saying is, you need to try oat milk. And run, don’t walk.