Today Dr. Kiziria told us about a real-life “Georgian myth”: in the now-separatist region of Abkhazia, many super-centenarians are rumored to live healthily with minimal medical care. An article published in National Geographic in the early 1970s (according to Dr. Kiziria, “a few years ago”) reported that men and women lived to be as old as 140, or…almost three times the life expectancy of Russian male today.
Dannon yogurt sought to capitalize on this pseudo-science during a brief 1970s health trend, and produced a delightful commercial, “Georgians Over 100” in 1977. I also learned that this was the first commercial for an American product filmed in the USSR. I suppose this is why it didn’t run for very long…even health benefits couldn’t convince Cold War-era Americans that the Reds could be doing anything right over there. “Agnes, did you see Jane eating that Dannon stuff? I knew she was a Communist.”
But those who have visited Georgia will know that what is not a myth is that Georgians do in fact use mats’oni (მაწონი), a yogurt-like product, for nearly everything–including as a burn remedy and sunscreen.