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Most 'Aussies' will know of Milo1 - a chocolate foodstuff invented by industrial chemist and factory worker Thomas Mayne at the Nestlé factory in Smithtown near Kempsey on the Macleay River, Australia, in 1933. After perfecting the product, Nestlé soon launched the powdered malted chocolate at the Sydney Royal Easter Show in 1934, and it was an immediate favourite with the Australian people.
Somewhat 'chunkier' when mixed with milk, Milo, with its added malted properties, appealed to the palate as something that actually tasted of chocolate - a little bitter and not as sweet as many of the American brands that were available in Australia at the time.
Added to either hot or cold milk, Milo quickly went on to become an iconic symbol of Australian sports. The brand has sponsored athletes and has been a schoolyard favourite in its many shapes and forms over the years. The grass-green packaging is familiar all over Australia as many natives often long for the taste of a cool Milo drink after sports or at lunchtime, or a hot thermos of Milo on a rainy day while watching the 'footy'.
Where Did it Come From?
Nestlé had been attempting to create a dry chocolate drink product when Thomas Mayne successfully developed vacuum shelf drying, a process which extracts all moisture from a paste mixture to create a flat dry 'cake'.
This cake of malted-chocolate is then granulated to produce the final Milo product that can be mixed with milk in order to get the wonderful chocolate drink that many Australian children nag their parents for after school.
In ancient Greece there was a legendary athlete by the name of Milon. He was born in the Greek colony of Croton in southern Italy2, and was a six-time Olympic wrestling champion during the 6th Century BC.
His strength and fortitude were astounding, as he was reported to sometimes stand on a greased iron disc and challenge people to push him off of it. He is also said to have carried a fully-grown cow on his back around the Olympic Stadium, proceeding to eat the entire animal before his next event!
Milon was even once appointed commander of the Greek army when they battled the Sybarites, and played an important part in the battle of Crathis in 511BC. He was said to have gone into combat dressed as Heracles - in a lion skin and carrying a club, his Olympic chaplet (winner's wreath) on his head.
This great athlete had just the image that Nestlé wanted for their new product and so they took the name 'Milo'. The moniker is shared with a children's television personality - a purple 'Tweenie' that is very excitable and loves to dance and sing and generally get up to all kinds of fun. Be sure not to get the two confused, as some young children may burst into tears if you absent-mindedly say you're off to the kitchen to make some hot Milo.
As it was so popular, Nestlé soon made Milo available in a huge variety of different foods. You can now buy Milo chocolate bars, Milo cereal (which is pretty much cornflakes with a Milo coating), Milo smoothies, Milo mousse, Milo sachets for quick drinks and even Milo ice-cream, a vanilla ice-cream coated with a hard Milo chocolate exterior. However, it is Milo powder that remains the mainstay of the Milo break.
Making a 'Milo'
The best way to have Milo is either hot or cold with milk. The following two recipes provide easy ways of getting a Milo fix.
The quickest and simplest way to enjoy Milo is to get a glass of cold milk then add four (or more) heaped teaspoons of Milo powder into the milk. Stir the two together with a spoon. At least mix it as well as you can, as Milo doesn't dissolve all that well in cold liquid so there will always be some chocolate 'scum' left floating on top of the milk. This is the best bit though! You can now either choose to drink the now chocolatey milk down and get yourself a Milo moustache, or scoop the 'scum' off the top with a spoon, or preferably a finger - then finish the cool milk off, taking in the taste of the Milo.
A great cold weather drink, hot Milo is best made by dissolving four (or more) heaped teaspoons of Milo in a little boiling water3. You can then either top up a mug with boiling water and add some milk to drink the Milo like tea, or you can warm up some milk in a saucepan on the stove4, and then add the warm milk to the dissolved Milo, mixing it together to make a smooth and delectable hot chocolate drink. This method has also been known to include either a little instant coffee to get that 'mocha' effect, or a large portion of whisky for 'medicinal, warming purposes' - this is for adults only, of course.
In the UK, some of the major supermarket chains distribute cans of powdered Milo as an imported product and it can sometimes be found in the milk products aisle hiding amongst UHT cartons of milk and the many different hot chocolate or flavoured milk products.
More Milo Matters
For more about marvellous Milo, visit the Official Milo website.