Dairy Industry Says 48% Of Americans Don’t Know Where Chocolate Milk Comes From

Image courtesy of Martijn Venhuizen

Even though the term “chocolate milk” may seem pretty self-explanatory, a large number of people apparently think there is some secret alchemy involved in brewing this mysterious elixir.

The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy surveyed 1,000 adults, representing all 50 states, about their knowledge and use of dairy products.

The most attention-getting stat was that 48% of people surveyed didn’t know how chocolate milk is made, while 7% believe that it comes from brown cows. (Where do these 7% of Americans think that Peeps milk comes from?)

Perhaps those adults were children in the ’80s when this commercial aired, and failed to remember its ending.

The Washington Post’s Wonkblog looked around at other studies of how much people understand about their food, and concluded that maybe it’s impressive that 93% of people do understand that chocolate milk comes from all colors of cows, with cocoa and sugar added to it either when it’s bottled or in one’s glass at home.

For example, the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that 12.3% of people surveyed in Missouri and Indiana thought that hamburger was made from the meat of pigs, and 5.9% didn’t know what it was made of. [PDF, page 35]

In 2011, a study of elementary school children in urban California found that only 22% of kids knew that the source of pickles is cucumbers, and that while children didn’t know much at all about how foods are processed, 72% of the children did know that cheese is made from cow’s milk [PDF, page 6].

Speaking of cheese, the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy study also found that 95% of people surveyed had at least one type of cheese in their refrigerator, and that 80% had at least two. It also showed that 42% of the participants’ milk consumption is at breakfast, and 43% of them include a dairy beverage in their first meal of the day. We’re guessing that a lot of that is coffee with milk.