How Banana Milk Became A Staple South Korean Treat

Described as sweet and creamy, Korean banana milk is a beloved treat for children and adults of both Korean and non-Korean descent, according to Creatrip. The drink has become so popular because it's mostly natural and comes in an endearing bottle that tastes good. Thanks to its many ads and appearances in TV shows, banana milk is also a highly visible drink. Even Jungkook — singer of Korea's famous band BTS — has declared his love for banana milk, reports Pickled Plum

There are many brands that make banana milk, but My Korean Kitchen says the most popular is the Binggrae brand, which contains 85% milk, purified water, sugar, 0.32% banana juice concentrate, carotene, and artificial flavors of banana and vanilla. The packaging of banana milk has also endeared it to attract children and adults. Made of clear plastic, the plastic containers are made in the shape of traditional Korean earthenware called hangari, which is what kimchi and gochujang are stored in. However, it can also be found in small milk cartons, says Pickled Plum.

A taste of luxury

Banana milk was introduced in 1974, according to Pickled Plum, at a time when bananas were expensive. It was also a time when Koreans didn't drink much milk even though the South Korean government had been encouraging its consumption.

After the Korean War, the South Korean president visited West Germany and observed how drinking milk helped them grow taller (per Allkpop). However, despite the government's push, at first milk was slow to catch on. After all, milk was a rare item and the Korean population remained poor. Bananas were also a rarity in South Korea for many years, according to Creatrip, because they had to be imported. So, when banana milk was introduced — a product that combined the health benefits of milk with the luxurious taste of bananas — it was a hit. 

Luckily, milk isn't limited in specialty flavors to bananas. It's also sold in strawberry and melon, as well as low-sugar banana milk. And for those who do not live in South Korea or have easy access to a Korean grocery store, like H Mart, banana milk can be made at home with fresh bananas, water, milk, sugar, and optional pure vanilla extract, shares My Korean Kitchen. Then simply blend the ingredients together until the right consistency is reached. Next time you are craving something a little sweet, but still nutritious, give banana milk a try and see what all of the fuss is about.