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Holy Cow, How Wise is Milkwise?

Have you checked out the dairy aisle lately? There are all these newfangled milk products on the shelf, all claiming in one way or another to be better than plain old milk.

One such product in New England stores is Hood (brand) Milkwise.


It’s got one-third the sugar, almost half the calories, and 50 percent more calcium than even reduced fat milk. How did they do that… put the cows on a low fat and low carb diet?

The answer is in the fine print.


Milkwise ingredients

They watered it down — water is now the first ingredient — plus they added calcium and sugar. That is why it is called a “milk beverage” instead of milk. This product is reminiscent of Trop50, the “orange juice beverage” that claimed 50% fewer calories because it is basically orange juice diluted with a lot of water.

But the Milkwise label makes it seem so healthy. How can this be? The trick is that they left out one key attribute of milk in the comparison — protein. We’ve taken the liberty of filling in the blanks.


Milkwise protein

Milkwise only has one-quarter the protein of regular milk. Expressed the other way, regular milk has four times the protein of Milkwise.

Maybe it should be called Milk-not-so-wise.

Thanks to Dr. W who was driving along the highway in Saugus, Massachusetts and saw a Milkwise billboard with a mother and child. She thought the ad was suggesting that this was a healthier milk product.

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10 thoughts on “Holy Cow, How Wise is Milkwise?”

  1. How will an ordinary person know what is and what is not in the product. Just take a look at any product and see the ingredients listed. Can’t pronounce most of the words.

  2. Nice catch. This beverage seems worse than skim milk, and is probably more expensive. As soon as I saw water on the ingredients list I would have put that product back on the shelf.

  3. Simple math based on the protein ratios suggests that the product is 75% water and 25% milk. Such a dilution would drop the sugar content to 3g which explains why they add sugar to get up to 8g. I suppose that the gellan gum is added as a thickener so the mixture seems more like milk than water. It would be simpler and likely cheaper just to dilute regular skim milk with water and chew a calcium tablet!

  4. Next step: make it concentrated, like citrus beverage products. Reconstitute it with one part concentrate, three parts water. Ingredient of the concentrate: whole milk.

    (I remember seeing something like this in California around 1970, except that the reconstituted product was actually something resembling real milk. Anyone else remember it?)

  5. The original Milkwise actually has 3g of protein, leading to the (still ridiculous) calculation of ~38% milk. With the other 62% being mostly water and other junk like added sugar.

    They insist (when I asked their customer service people) that this product was created to “Meet the demand of certain consumers”, which sounds like PR doubletalk to me. Even if this was the case, my biggest problem is that they are trying to market this as milk not a “milk-beverage”. The word Milk is in huge letters all over the box, its in the exact same container that milk has been coming in for decades, its sold right next to milk, its made by a very large milk producer.

    Their sales are driven by consumer ignorance.

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