Okay, right off the bat, the title of this week's post is a little misleading. The drink I had was truly made in Malaysia. However, it was invented in Australia, and is a product of the biggest food company in the world, Nestle, which is headquartered in Switzerland. So the drink I'll be discussing, Milo, is essentially Malaysian on a technicality.
But first, some background. Industrial chemist Thomas Mayne invented Milo in Sydney, Australia, way back in 1934. This beverage is a bit unusual in that its ingredients vary a bit depending on what country it's being made for. The basic formula is sugar, chocolate, and some kind of malted grain--usually barley, wheat, or cassava (see my April 10, 2014 post for more info on that food item). Typically it's sold as a powder, which is then added to hot water and milk, kind of like Nesquik, or Ovaltine, or other powdered milkshake-like drinks. Sometimes, though, it's premade, and sold in cans or bottles. And Nestle additionally makes Milo cereals and candy-type bars, too. Some folks even add it to distinctly non-healthy foods, such as sprinkled (in the powder form, obviously) on top of ice cream. Plus, to return to my blog post of only a week ago, this drink is one of the ways to perform a Tim Tam Slam.
There's no denying the drink's popularity. It's sold in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Peru, Colombia, Chile, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, New Zealand, Australia, the U.K., and Canada. And it's especially popular in Malaysia--there it has a 90% market share.
Milo was named after the real life Milo of Croton, a man renowned for his strength in the Ancient World. Specifically Greece, and its Magna Graecia (Greater Greece) holdings around the Mediterranean, back in the 6th century B.C. Milo was a seven time Olympic champion in wrestling, from 540-520 B.C. He's also the subject of various, probably apocryphal tales about his strength, and appetite. For example, he was allegedly powerful enough to carry a bull on his shoulder, and to break a band around his head by simply bulging his veins. As for his diet, his daily intake was said to be 20 pounds (or 9 kilos) of meat, 9 kilos (20 pounds) of bread, washed down with 10 liters of wine. He was also credited with saving the life of philosopher Pythagoras when a banquet hall roof collapsed on them. (Some historians claim that this was a different man named Pythagoras, who was a wrestling coach.) But my favorite Milo story is about his supposed death. Some men were cutting down a tree, and had gotten as far as cutting wedges out of it. Milo decided to impress his audience by sticking his hands into the tree wedges, with the idea being that he'd rip the tree apart by himself. Alas, the wedges closed, trapping his hands, and he couldn't tear open the tree and get free. Which left him defenseless later when a pack of wolves devoured him.
The Milo I tried was premade, and in an 8 ounce (240 ml.) can. Mine was made with barley malt. Its appearance was just like a regular chocolate milk. The taste was similar to chocolate milk at the surface, but it then had a decidedly nasty undertaste. I wasn't a fan at all, and won't be buying this one again. It was very disappointing.
As for Milo's energy and nutritional benefits, it does contain 10-20% of the recommended daily amount of calcium, thiamine, niacin, pantothenic acid, Vitamin C, phosphorus, biotin, Vitamin D, riboflavin, and iron. Plus the theobromine in the cocoa has caffeine-like stimulating qualities. So I guess it is healthier than some energy drinks, but I think it wasn't worth it due to its flavor. But clearly many people around the world, and especially in Malaysia, disagree strongly with me.