Tech A surprising number of American adults think chocolate milk comes from brown cows

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A new survey reveals that way too many Americans do not know where chocolate milk comes from.

chocolate milk play

chocolate milk

(Flickr/USDAgov)
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Seven percent of all American adults — roughly 16.4 million people — do not know that chocolate milk is made of milk, cocoa, and sugar, according to a new nationally representative survey by the Innovation Center for US Dairy.

Instead, they reported it comes from brown cows.

The organization surveyed 1,000 adults in all 50 states about their use and knowledge of dairy products. Forty-eight percent of respondents also didn’t know how chocolate milk is made.

The percentage of misinformed adults about chocolate milk may seen high, but as The Washington Post’s Caitlin Dewey notes, it may be more surprising that this figure is not higher. Many Americans are essentially agriculturally illiterate, especially if they do not grow up in agricultural communities. They might not understand how food is grown and what it takes to get it to grocery stores.

The way most agricultural products today are marketed to shoppers doesn’t help. In the supermarket, meat, produce, and dairy products are often packaged in plastic wrap, cartons, and boxes. They don't look much like the original plant or animal.

Unless consumers Google the information or learn it in a classroom, it can be easy to disassociate between the milk in their glasses and the cows it took to produce it.