There is evidence of cultured milk products as food for at least 4500 years since the 3rd millennium BC. The earliest yogurts were probably spontaneously fermented by wild bacteria living on the goat skin bags carried by the Bulgars, a nomadic people who began migrating into Europe in the 2nd century AD and eventually settled in the Balkans at the end of the 7th century. Today, many different countries claim yogurt as their own, yet there is no clear evidence as to where it was first discovered.

Until the 1900s, yogurt was a staple in diets of the South Asian, central Asian, Western Asian, South Eastern Europe and central European regions.  The Russian biologist Ilyich Mechnikov had an unproven hypothesis that regular consumption of yogurt was responsible for the unusually long life span of Bulgarian peasants.

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