Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Milk Drink

In the states there is a phenomenon called the "Juice Drink"--a clever advertising scheme used by many beverage companies to mislead the public as to the true nature of their product. Using the term "juice" adds an air of healthiness to their product. Moms across the USA fall for this dirty little trick everyday. Simply by adding "drink" to the end of product description, they can fill it with anything they want. Sugar, corn syrup, coloring, preservatives, paint thinner, rusty nails (well, perhaps these wouldn't quite meet FDA guidelines) are ingredients that fall neatly into the "drink" category. Only when it says "100% juice" are you actually getting the real deal. (Sometimes they get real sneaky and say "100% juice drink". HA! Lots of people fall for that!)

Regardless, this isn't meant to be a rant against the juice industry, or even for educational purposes, but simply to introduce the following concept:

The Milk Drink

The carton in the picture above looks like your average, unassuming 1/2 liter of milk. Only yesterday at breakfast did I uncover it's true, sinister nature. It's a MILK DRINK!!! (Let me note here that I don't usually drink milk since my stomach complains about it, but Matt does, so that explains it's presence at the breakfast table.)

Take a closer look at this carton. It actually says it's a "2% Low Fat Milk Drink" (and the clincher) "made with fresh milk." The ingredients (the fact that it has an ingredients list is your first clue that it isn't just milk) are: water, fresh milk (that's a relief), milk solids, stabilizer, and vitamins A & D. The Kowloon Dairy sure had us going. Due to my many preservative/additive allergies, I usually check most ingredients for everything I buy. But milk? Who checks their milk ingredients? Milk isn't supposed to have ingredients!

Later that afternoon I snuck a peek into the refridgerator of a friend and she also had "Milk Drink" instead of plain milk. Her "milk drink" was a cream-based product with slightly different ingredients than ours at home. It was produced by a different dairy, which led me to believe that maybe you can't actually get straight milk in this city. On the back it said (improperly quoted, mind you) "this milk drink product has been enjoyed by our customers for over 30 years...". Many Asians are lactose intolerant, and this is not a culture that uses much milk in everyday cooking. So my only working theory is that when milk became popular in Hong Kong, the dairies started to produce a watered-down milk product that could be more easily digested, and was cheaper to produce. And since the Chinese have been around waaaaaaay longer than Americans, maybe we imported the "drink" designation idea from the Chinese. Hmmmm...makes you wonder, eh? I'll be sure to let you know if I find some proper milk in Hong Kong.

PS It makes me giggle thinking about the British having their tea with "milk drink" for all those years. Don't know why.


Jane said...

I have to say, Erika, your posts just keep getting better and better! I didn't think that was possible.

So, I'm wondering....is a latte in Hong Kong made with steamed milk drink? I had a good ol' American juice drink this morning with my egg and cheese sandwich (a favorite in New York City, I've learned).

Anyway, keep the stories coming...I check every morning, and when there's no post from Erika, my day just doesn't go as well.

Andi said...

that's pretty gross! i love it.

matt said...

You know, it's not actually true, but now everytime I look at that carton I imagine "milk solids" clogging up the holes in my Cheerios.

Whatever a milk solid is, anyway.

Crabby Rangoon said...


You can't tell the difference between milk and milk drink. It's very convincing.

randall never said...

Do they have the 'red top' milk drink? I don't think i could make it without my vitamin D whole milk goodness.