Is it really skyr?

Arla, the big Danish dairy manufacturer, started selling a product named “skyr” inside the EU – including in Germany – which claims to be skyr according to Icelandic traditions.

Well, the news caused quite a stir1 in Iceland and the Icelandic dairy monopolist MS even put up a mock ad in which an Icelandic “skyr” saturated with flavoring and coloring agents as well as sugar “talks” to the plain Arla skyr. The Icelandic “skyr” addresses the Arla skyr, using the typical Icelandic pronunciation for “Arla” which is reminiscent of how the Icelandic L tripped hundreds of people with the name Eyjafjallajökull.

All in all the ad is funny, but MS, if you want to pit your skyr-a-like against this plain variety of the Arla skyr you might lose your battle. Either use the hreint hrært2 skyr from your pseudo-brand KEA or MS or even pick the KEA óhrært skyr3 which I rarely ever saw on the shelves during my eight years living in Iceland. It would be fairer.

Anyway, so a number if Icelanders are bitching and moaning about this perceived betrayal from the Danes 70 years4 after their independence from Denmark:

The third article above got it about right. This stuff does taste authentic. Take that from someone who lived in Iceland for eight straight years until summer last year and has eaten almost one container of skyr per day6.

It’s not from Icelandic milk, right. So what? Maybe you should take these words to heart:

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness.
Oscar Wilde

This Arla plain skyr is not identical to the plain stirred KEA or the plain stirred MS skyr. But these two varieties7 are not identical either – despite being produced by the same monopolist.

All in all you Icelanders might want to aim your outrage at the monopolist that calls something that isn’t technically skyr “skyr” instead of bitching against a big manufacturer that helps spreading a piece of Icelandic culture.

// Oliver

  1. no pun intended []
  2. literally: plain stirred []
  3. unstirred []
  4. the scandal started before this year’s independence day []
  5. an English language magazine that I will warmly recommend to any tourist going to Iceland []
  6. variously the blueberry, but without starch and stuff, and the plain variety []
  7. KEA and MS hreint hrært skyr []
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