How chocolate milk became a drink for athletes, not kids

Stephen Whiteside

"When you think of chocolate milk, what do you think of?" Julia Kadison, chief executive of The Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP), asked delegates at IEG's Sponsorship 2014 conference in Chicago.

For many people, the answer would be a nostalgic childhood favourite, an occasional treat, or a sugary option that is best avoided for dietary reasons. As a trade association – funded by 111 milk processors across America and charged with boosting the number of consumers drinking milk – none of those descriptions are particularly appealing to MilkPEP.

A more attractive, but less well known, quality of chocolate milk is that it contains several ingredients – including protein, vitamin A, calcium, potassium and sodium – that are extremely beneficial for athletes seeking to "refuel" after at least 45 minutes of strenuous exercise.