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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Yogurt in their faces

Last months Greece is threatened not only by its biggest post-war economic crisis but also by the most significant political upheaval since the end of dictatorship (1974).
It  is not surprising then that the crisis has a big impact on the Greek psyche and on the popularity of the two main parties. To show their despair for the country's woes and their anger for the austerity measures, Greeks vent their frustration at the politicians. Eggs, yogurts -occasionally tomatoes and peaches- are hurled against them, even during the national parade.

Throwing foods at people you don't like has not deep roots in Greek history.

Throwing rice at newlyweds is believed to help them have a fruitful union.Throwing a handful of grains and nuts in the land belongs to harvest time; it was thought to be a sacrifice to secure the fertility of the crops. Throwing boiled wheat kernels into the open grave is a burial custom.

But throwing eggs, tomatoes or yogurt at people as a punishment and protest is a special case.


Way back in the days of the Cold War, many governments, press and the public throught the divided world reunited against the 'corrupted and violent' youth. They  instituted measures aiming to influence and direct the younger generation and restore the young non- comformists, either capitalist or socialist.   The corruption and unproper behavior was atributed to groups largerly male: The British
Teddy boys, the Italian teppisti, the French blousons noirs, the American rockers*, the Greek tediboides (from Teddy boys) etc.



Tediboides gained a reputation for throwing fruits, eggs and yogurt at women, old men and high school teachers. Yogurt was their favorite 'weapon' though, due to the lightweight nature of the plastic containers that had begun to be used by dairy industries in the early  '60s. Tediboides became the focus of a moral panic regarding their anti- social actions. In 1958, the state voted the 'Law 4000' that penalized verbal insult and the throwing of yogurt and eggs. “Teddy boys were arrested by the police, were given a buzz haircut, the revers of their trousers were ripped and were paraded handcuffed through the streets of Athens to publicly humiliate them. The law was in effect until 1983 by the government of Andreas Papandreou''. 
 to be continued...

Marianna Kavroulaki
Experimental archaeologist- independent researcher in Greek food history

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