Actually it was most likely called Greek, because a Greek company known as Fage was one of the first companies to bring this type of strained yogurt to the U.S. initially directly from Greece and called it Greek yogurt.
This yogurt is basically yogurt that has been strained numerous times getting rid of much of the whey and resulting in a creamy consistency. From then we know the story. Other companies started making their own Greek yogurt, either the right way by straining it or the wrong way by adding thickeners.
Then the flavors were added in, blueberry, lemon meringue and the list goes on and on.
So here is what real Greek yogurt is: the most common form and the most traditional yogurt in Greece is regular full-fat sheep’s milk yogurt. It is usually made in those ceramic containers with the layer of skin on top (see photo above). This yogurt is creamy, rich and yes even more tart than the “Greek” yogurt. Which is why it was often served with a bit of honey and some bread. This combination was often served as breakfast or as a light evening meal.
The strained yogurt we all know as Greek yogurt, also was present, it was known as “bag” (sakoulas) yogurt because it was strained in muslin bags. It was more of a luxury item and made when there was too much milk left over.
Nutritionally it appears that regular sheep’s milk yogurt is superior according to data from Preventative Medicine and Nutrition Clinic of the University of Crete. Let’s not forget that whey is actually a source of vitamins and minerals. Check this post for more information on that.
Strained yogurt (AKA Greek yogurt) is great, but sheep’s milk yogurt has many benefits that should not be overlooked. As my grandpa used to say “if the yogurt doesn’t have the whey in it, then it’s not yogurt” and he lived to be 102.