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A Lot of American Adults Think Brown Cows Make Chocolate Milk

Around seven percent apparently believe we live in some kind of Wonka-fied world where cow udders lactate Ovaltine.

River Donaghey

River Donaghey

Photo via Flickr user andy muir

A survey put together by the National Dairy Council found that a whopping seven percent of adult Americans—real, functioning, grown-ass humans—think that chocolate milk comes from brown cows, the Washington Post reports.

Sure, there are plenty of people out there who somehow make it to adulthood without realizing that pickles are cucumbers or that raisins are grapes or that baby carrots are just mutilated regular-sized carrots. These things happen. But the Post crunched the numbers, and seven percent comes out to around 16.4 million people who think that we live in some kind of Wonka-fied world where cows' udders lactate Ovaltine.

The Post attributes this startlingly widespread milk mistake to Americans' on-going separation from the agriculture industry behind our food.

"At the end of the day, it's an exposure issue," Cecily Upton, co-founder of the agriculture and nutrition education non-profit FoodCorps, told the Post. "Right now, we're conditioned to think that if you need food, you go to the store. Nothing in our educational framework teaches kids where food comes from before that point."

Still, a decontextualization of food and its origins can't totally be to blame, since it doesn't take a lot of critical thinking to realize a genetic cow mutation isn't behind our delicious chocolate drink. Chocolate milk is not the byproduct of brown cows; it is not gathered and siphoned into cartons after chocolate rainstorms; it's just normal cow juice with some cocoa mixed in.

While we're at it, let's put an end to another pernicious milk-related rumor once and for all. Neither strawberry milk nor chocolate milk is made from cows with bloody udders, no matter what that third grader told you in the cafeteria.