When Was Chocolate Milk Invented?

Southeast Dairy Association - Chocolate milk pour

Chocolate milk—those two words are sure to make you crave that childhood favorite! Whether created through a syrup, mix or straight from the jug, we’ve all gulped plenty of glasses of the good stuff. But when did we first start enjoying chocolate milk? It sadly doesn’t come from brown cows that way, so someone had to get creative to create the treat. While the first chocolate milk is still unknown, how modern chocolate milk began amongst the Europeans is known. 

It began with Sir Hans Sloane, an Irish botanist, who was born in 1660. Interested in nature and medicine, Sloane received his M.D. at the University of Orange-Nassau. At only 27, he became a doctor for the new Duke of Albemarle in Jamaica. 

While in Jamaica, locals introduced him to drinkable cocoa comprised of chocolate and water. After trying the beverage for himself, Sloane admitted he was not a fan of the taste. To make it more appealing to him, he replaced the water with milk and some sugar. This, he decided, was perfect. 

In fact, Sloane believed that the beverage not only tasted good. He was convinced it was healthy. (And he wasn’t wrong!) Once he returned from Jamaica in 1689, one of the things Sloane introduced to England was the milk and cocoa mixture. His mixture appeared in apothecaries as a medicine, and who wouldn’t want to use chocolate milk to feel better? His promotion of a tasty and healthy chocolate milk led to widespread demand. And so chocolate milk became a favorite of many. 

To clarify, though he modified a chocolate drink recipe, Sloane did not actually invent chocolate milk. Europeans learned about chocolate centuries earlier when Christopher Columbus landed in the Americas. Perhaps Jamaicans created chocolate milk, as they were brewing cacao shavings, milk, and cinnamon when Colombus arrived in 1494. And when Cortez reported on the Aztecs’ imported favorite cold drink shortly after, the Spanish began trying to replicate their recipe. There were variations that were not quite chocolate milk appearing all over.  Though not the inventor of chocolate milk, Sir Hans Sloane does deserve the credit of bringing it to Europe. 

Whether you enjoy chocolate milk, hot chocolate or a twist on the two, know that it has a long history to discover. 

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