For the record, no, it doesn't

By Elizabeth King
Updated February 13, 2018
Credit: Photo by Barrett & McKay via Getty Images

If you’ve ever had a glass of chocolate milk and found yourself wondering where chocolate milk comes from or how it’s made, you’re not alone. In fact, a startling number of Americans are confused about where chocolate milk comes from. According to a new survey, nearly half the US population (47 percent) are unsure about where chocolate milk comes from. Seven percent believe that chocolate milk comes to us from brown cows. Yes, of the last 100 people you’ve seen, spoken to, had brunch with, seven of them are under the impression that chocolate milk comes from brown cows. Sorry to burst the chocolate milk bubble, but this is not how chocolate milk works.

The survey was conducted in April by Undeniably Dairy, a group within the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy that represents family dairy farmers. The survey found a lot of interesting tidbits about people’s views on milk (37 percent of milk drinkers secretly drink it right out of the carton, for example), but the chocolate milk insight was by far the most bizarre.

It’s difficult to suss out where exactly this confusion is coming from, much less the sense of certainty that chocolate milk comes as-is from a brown cow. If you think this through to its logical ends, it would mean that Hershey’s syrup and Nesquik are ways to make “artificial” chocolate milk, whereas bottled chocolate milk would have come direct from the udder. In truth, it would be incredibly cool if brown cows somehow had the ability to produce chocolate milk, but it’s completely biologically impossible.

So to clarify, chocolate milk is merely a flavored version of milk that comes from milk cows. The color of a cow has no impact on the type of milk that is produced: it’s all just milk that gets pasteurized, packaged, and sold in grocery stores. The reality is nowhere near as magical or interesting a process as chocolate milk-producing brown cows, but what’s important is that chocolate milk is delicious regardless of where it comes from. And also that people understand cows don’t make chocolate.