Why Is Yoo-Hoo Considered A Chocolate Drink And Not Milk?

For kids across generations, Yoo-hoo was once synonymous with after-school snacks and sick day pick-me-ups. Whether you sipped them during episodes of "Maury" or drank them on the way to soccer practice, it's a nostalgic childhood drink for many. Its deliciously milky taste is cemented in our minds, despite the fact that Yoo-hoo isn't actually considered chocolate milk.

Yoo-hoo isn't shy about not being called milk: "Chocolate drink" is proudly displayed on each bottle, with the strawberry, vanilla, and cookies and cream versions following suit. With its creamy flavor, it's bewildering that it's not classified as milk. However, just because it isn't labeled that way doesn't mean it doesn't contain dairy (sorry, lactose intolerants).

Yoo-hoo contains non-fat dry milk, whey, the liquid that's separated from milk curds, and sodium caseinate, a compound that comes from the protein found in mammal milk. Although Yoo-hoo has three milk-derived products, it doesn't actually contain the liquid milk itself, resulting in its "chocolate drink" label. This distinction sets it apart from actual chocolate milk, which is made from pasteurized milk that has been combined with cocoa powder and sugar.

Why doesn't Yoo-hoo contain liquid milk?

When grocery store owner Natale Olivieri created Yoo-hoo in the 1920s, he wanted a chocolatey drink that would stand alongside the fruit juices he sold at his New Jersey store. The key was to make something that was shelf-stable. By omitting liquid milk, the drink would be able to sit on the shelves for lengthy periods of time without going bad. The notion came to him after watching his wife sterilize jars when canning homemade tomato sauce.

While the drink relies on a few preservatives today, allowing it to be kept out of the fridge, that simple trick led to school lunches and long road trips that were filled with a drink that stood the test of time. Although you may walk past the flashy yellow bottles these days, it's not hard to whip up the drink for a taste of nostalgia. To make your own homemade Yoo-hoo, combine some instant chocolate drink mix with nonfat powdered milk and whisk some water into the cup.