If your kid only drinks her milk after having dumped the better part of a carton of breakfast cereal into it, you are exactly the target demographic for "cereal milk," a kind of flavored milk that recreates that taste -- without the box of cereal. Now a Los Angeles-based grown-up kid has gotten into the business, marketing boxes of the stuff at your nearby Kroger's under the name Cow Wow.
If this sounds oddly familiar, and not just because you grew up drinking the Froot Loops-flavored milk out of your own cereal bowl, maybe it's because you've ordered cereal milk from Momufuku Milk Bar in New York City, or run across pastry chef Christina Tosi's recipe for it in her Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook. Well, now you can find a version of the flavored milk at the store -- which I suppose comes in handy if you don't get to New York much, or are too busy to make your own. And no, although Momofuku's cereal milk is trademarked, you can't own cereal milk, or so we were told, any more than you can own, say, chocolate milk. Too bad, really. Imagine owning that one.
Regardless of legal semantics, the guy who came up with the kind of cereal milk you can now find at your local Kroger's, Ralphs and Albertson's has a pretty cool origin myth of his own.
Chris Pouy, predictably, first fell in love with the sugared milk at the bottom of his own cereal bowl back when he was a kid. What's not quite so predictable was that he would have a Russian actress grandmother who, in an effort to get her grandson to drink milk at meals other than breakfast, would mix the stuff up for him. According to Pouy, she would dump large quantities of both Froot Loops and milk into a huge bowl, let it steep, strain it and reserve the flavored milk for the kid to drink in his dinnertime glass. Clearly the woman should have been a pastry chef. Or maybe Helen Mirren playing one.
Years later Pouy remembered this when, as a grown-up living in downtown Los Angeles, he grew tired of being an advertiser and decided to come up with something of his own to advertise. And since he was a single adult male without children and thus still ate a lot of cereal at mealtimes, he figured: Why not cereal milk.
Cow Wow cereal milk currently comes in three flavors, roughly corresponding to the flavors of cinnamon crunch, Froot Loops and something chocolatey, although the actual flavors are named after cows so that they don't infringe upon any actual cereal. (See: more issues of legality and semantics.)
The milk is organic 1% from somewhere in Northern California and the flavoring is, well, flavoring. According to our resident taste-tester, age 12, the stuff is actually pretty good, particularly the cinnamon and fruity flavors -- the chocolate one tasting too similar to regular chocolate milk. (Disclaimer: We have not made the cereal milk on p. 35 of Christina Tosi's book, but only because we never had enough actual cornflakes left after breakfast to toast them for the recipe.)
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Back to the conceit of cereal milk. It's undeniably cool to have milk that tastes like the stuff at the bottom of your cereal bowl, although how you acquire this flavored milk depends a lot upon your lifestyle, your patience and whether you have kids. (Maybe not on that last one.) If you don't live anywhere near New York and you like the milk even more than the cereal, Pouy's cute little milk boxes may be just your thing.
Personally, I just want to recreate his grandmother's story and fill up the world's largest cereal bowl some evening in the kitchen. Imagine the decanting. Imagine the chinois.
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