Food News

Millions (Millions!) of Americans Think Chocolate Milk Comes From Brown Cows

June 20, 2017

Chocolate milk, chocolate cows? That’s the logic used by several million adults in the United States, who believe that chocolate milk is produced by brown cows alone.

The study, conducted in May of this year on behalf of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, polled 1,000 people over the age of 18 across all 50 states. A full 48 percent of responders admitted that they weren’t totally sure where chocolate milk comes from, while seven percent said that they thought chocolate milk was the work of brown cows.

Extrapolating that data, this means the real number of misinformed chocolate milk drinkers in the U.S. is closer to 16.4 million people, and that figure only includes adults. “Actually, chocolate milk—or any flavored milk for that matter—is white cow’s milk with added flavoring and sweeteners,” the organization clarified on Undeniably Dairy, a new website launched in partnership with the country’s dairy farmers “to help reconnect people to where their food comes from,” and of course, to put a stop to all the fake dairy news. More specifically, it’s cocoa powder and/or chocolate that makes chocolate milk, and obviously, it’s not a habit we’re going to outgrow anytime soon: 29 percent of people surveyed admitted to using their kids as an excuse to buy chocolate milk for themselves.

And while we’re on the subject, the dairy world wants you to know that chocolate milk has the exact same nine essential nutrients regardless of how it’s flavored—though sweeteners do add to the carb and calorie content of chocolate milk.

Shop the Story

Surprising as this dairy revelation may seem, it’s not as bad as the dairy myth that plagued my childhood. My mom, an immigrant from rural China, where cold beverages just don’t exist—and this includes water—was convinced that all the milk in the house had to be warmed before consumption. Months of breakfast consisting of bowls of Fruity Pebbles with warm milk followed before we convinced her that it just doesn’t work like that. So forgive your fellow Americans for their dairy inaccuracies—it’s a learning process for all of us.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Satu Wyvern
    Satu Wyvern
  • Rhonda35
Karen Lo

Written by: Karen Lo

lunch lady


Satu W. June 23, 2017
Is it possible millions of people were just being funny? The alternative is too frightening. Should we be glad they didn't ask what is a cow?
Rhonda35 June 22, 2017
I find this statistic unbelievably sad.