I was dangerously close to becoming addicted to apple juice, and those little boxes were the perfect containers to drink it out of: portable and convenient. But they were only big enough to last all of three minutes, tops — which is where the hate portion of the relationship came in.
It wasn’t just apple juice that I drank out of those boxes, though. I had fruit punch, grape juice, cranberry juice…
But never, ever milk.
So when I came across little milk-filled boxes sitting on the shelf, two things came to mind:
1.) That hardly looks legitimate.
2.) Wait a second. Isn’t milk supposed to be refrigerated?
As far as legitimacy goes, what concerned me the most was the Comic Sans text slapped across the side of the front of each carton: “R U thirsty???” Uh, R U ten years old? The only plausible explanation for this slogan is that the company is trying really hard to market their product to grade-schoolers by using rudimentary chatspeak and excessive question marks in order to appear trendy. (And I mean “trendy” loosely, like oh-dear-Lord-my-mom-is-wearing-leggings-with-Uggs kind of trendy. So basically … not.)
As far as why milk was sitting out on a non-refrigerated shelf, I was stumped. The ingredients said “milk,” and there was even an allergy warning, so it had to be real. Even now, after further research into the ingredients list, I’m still stumped. Sodium phosphate is an emulsifier, carrageenan is another emulsifier, Vitamin A palmitate is a vitamin and Vitamin D3 is — you guessed it — another vitamin. Nothing special here, unless I’m missing something and one of these is a preservative.
The container, though, did say “ultra-pasteruized.” I’m not sure I want to know what goes into that process, but I guess it made me feel a little better.
At any rate, when faced with the choice of buying regular milk or strawberry milk, I opted for the strawberry, purely for the containers’ disgusting Pepto-Bismol hue.
And when I got home, I refrigerated it for a solid two hours. I didn’t care that it had been sitting on the shelf at room-temperature this whole time (or well actually, I did care a little) … I knew lukewarm strawberry milk would be automatically nasty.
When I finally pulled one out to drink it and poked the little straw through the aluminum-covered hole, I felt a sense of nostalgia that was immediately replaced by the reminder that I was about to drink something I was probably going to hate.
I took a sip.
Sweet. Very, very, very sweet.
But other than that, not actually that terrible.
I drank some more — slowly, because it really was a sugar overload. This stuff was definitely more strawberry than milk … and really just more sugar than strawberry, since the strawberry flavor hardly tasted like fruit.
It shouldn’t have surprised me: The second ingredient, after milk, was sugar. And with 20 grams of it in that little 6-ounce container, the stuff was loaded.
I’m still not entirely convinced it was milk, even though the carton promised it was. (Announced it, actually, in a speech bubble on the front emitting from a crazy-eyed emoticon — which brings me back to the trendy-but-not point.)
Much as I love (and sometimes hate) boxes full of drinkable things, I can’t see myself sipping on this stuff anytime soon. But if you’re looking for a cheap, portable, low-spillage-risk variation of milk for kids, this could work. Just be warned: despite all the vitamins in it (a whopping two), it’s also chock-full of sugar — and that’s apparent from the very first sip.
Ingredients: Low fat milk, sugar, natural flavors, sodium phosphate, carrageenan, Red 40, Vitamin A palmate and Vitamin D3.
Price: $2.50 at Fry’s Marketplace (four per package)
Pros: It does have vitamins and calcium in it, and it comes in nice little boxes with straws. Oh, and apparently you don’t need to refrigerate it, somehow.
Cons: Sugar. Lots and lots and lots of it.