Out of the 30 U.S. states and territories that have official state drinks, what is the beverage of choice for 22 of them?

And the answer: Milk.  
Photo credit: David Merrett.

In 1965, the practice of declaring an official state beverage was born when Ohio designated tomato juice as their region’s drink of choice. Since then, 30 states and territories have declared an official beverage, with 28 of them choosing milk. Some of the 28 states include Arkansas, Delaware, Minnesota, and New York—and as a bonus, Rhode Island’s state drink is coffee-flavored milk.

Although we’re used to the sight of gallons upon gallons of 2%, 1%, whole, and skim milk on our grocery store shelves, the proven safety and vastly accessible quantity of milk is a relatively new invention. Back in the 1800s, milk began to be sold and distributed en masse—yet individuals who consumed it began to contract deadly illnesses like tuberculosis, ​​Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria.

It was soon discovered that improperly handled raw milk was at the source of these outbreaks, and inventor Louis Pasteur (inadvertently) stepped in to fix it. “Pasteurization” as we now know it, a process he originally created to treat and extend the shelf life of alcoholic beverages, proved to effectively prevent the spread of bacteria in milk, making pasteurized milk a far safer drink than its raw predecessor. Milk is pasteurized by simply heating it to a high temperature for a matter of seconds, before placing it back into refrigeration. The process kills the bad bacteria, but miraculously leaves all the necessary nutrients and flavor. Although this method is nearly 150 years old, it is the only one practiced in the United States to safely prepare milk for consumption.

Did you know?

Yesterday was National Milk Day! Milk supports each and every one of us from birth and well into adulthood, as the only food (or, I suppose, beverage) that has all 9 essential nutrients for human survival: calcium, potassium, phosphorus, protein, niacin, vitamin A, vitamin B12, riboflavin, and vitamin D. This means that, technically, you can survive off of nothing but milk (but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should).

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