Daniel Carasso, Dannon yogurt namesake, dies

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The honorary chairman and namesake of the Dannon yogurt company has died.

Daniel Carasso, who turned yogurt into a household food staple, died May 17 at his Paris home. He was 103.

Carasso’s father, Issac, created the yogurt in Barcelona in 1919, according to The New York Times. He reportedly named the yogurt after his son, whose nickname in Catalan was Danon. The brand is called Danone in Europe.

Daniel Carasso was born in Thessalonika, Greece, the son of Sephardic Jews whose ancestors were expelled from Spain in 1492.

Carasso followed in his father’s footsteps, studying bacteriology at the Pasteur Institute while pursuing a business degree in Marseille in 1923. 

He expanded the business into France in 1929, but was forced to flee Europe and the Nazis for the United States in 1941. In the United States he began to expand his yogurt empire, with sales of the Dannon brand taking off after he began adding strawberry jam to the product. In 1959 the company was bought by Beatrice Foods.

Meanwhile, Carasso returned to Europe to restart Danone in Spain and France. He expanded the business into cheeses and other foodstuffs, and bought the American company from Beatrice Foods in 1981, changing the name of the conglomerate to Groupe Danone.

 

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