My all-time fav drink is Ovaltine

Published 12:26 pm Friday, February 5, 2016

On cold snowy gloomy days we couldn’t wait to get inside and warm up with a cup of hot chocolate but hot chocolate has changed since the days of my youth.

They are gourmet drinks now, but my all-time favorite was Ovaltine.

What is Ovaltine? It was a chocolate drink mix with a malted favor but today it is available it in three flavors: chocolate malt, rich chocolate and classic malt. It was created in 1904 and is now owned by the Nestle Company.

Ovaltine is a milk-flavored powder made with malt extract and sugar.  An added treat was putting a marshmallow on the top and let it melt.

Ovaltine also manufactured PDQ with chocolate chips and eggnog flavored PDQ, which are no longer available. These drink mixes were very popular from the 1960s to the 1980s. Ovaltine discontinued the PDQ products around 1995 or 1996.

The children’s radio series “Little Orphan Annie” (1931–1940) and “Captain Midnight” (1938–1949), and the subsequent “Captain Midnight” TV series (1954–1956) were sponsored by Ovaltine. They had promotions in which listeners could save proofs-of-purchase from Ovaltine jars to obtain radio premiums, such as “secret decoder ring” badges, or pins that could be used to decode messages in the program.

I loved both of those shows and had a decoder ring.  Each week a secret message would be broadcast and you needed to write it down and use the ring to decode it.

The hot chocolate drink has always been popular with brands such as Nesquik and Swiss Miss, which has marshmallows, added to the mix.

My how this simple hot chocolate drink has changed.  Brands added now are Ghirardelli, Godiva and it even comes in pods for the quick drink machines.

Starbucks realized that not only did people like coffee but some also favored hot cocoa and they added it to their menu. The name has changed to hot cocoa because cocoa powder has been added to the mix.

Not only can you drink this hot, there are cold versions. It’s a chocolate milk taste.   Bosco is chocolate syrup and has been around since 1928. Hershey chocolate syrup is more known for it is use on ice cream but it can also be used to make a chocolate flavored drink, hot or cold. An already mixed chocolate flavor drink is Yoo-hoo. That’s the one my great grandsons favorites.

One thing I have found is the thought of a cup of hot chocolate or hot cocoa sounds better than it tastes. All in the taste of the beholder. Give it a try and let me know if it tastes the same as you remember it.


Jo-Ann Boepple works at the Edwardsburg Area History Museum.