Sometimes you’re just not in the mood for a soda. Doesn’t a chilled serving of chocolate milk sound refreshing? Problem is, chocolate milk isn’t something you can just cart around with you unless you have a way to keep it cold, lest it become sour. And there are few beverages as unappetizing as sour milk. Luckily for American consumers, there exists a way to keep a supply of chocolate milk with you for any occasion, without having to worry about its freshness.
Yoo-hoo chocolate drink was the brainchild of Natale Olivieri, a New Jersey man who, in the 1920’s, offered a variety of fruit-flavored beverages that also bore the name “Yoo-hoo.” As legend has it, one day he watched as his wife canned spaghetti sauce and asked her to perform the same preservation process on some new chocolate drinks he had created. The experiment was of limited success, as most of the results ended up souring over time. Undaunted, he continued to experiment with various processes until he found one that allowed the drink to stay fresh, yet required no refrigeration whatsoever until opened. Pleased with his discovery, he began offering his bottled drink to supermarkets.
In the 1950s, the product was successfully marketed in a massive advertising campaign featuring Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle and the rest of the N.Y. Yankees baseball team. Yogi could often be seen in the ads, dressed in his uniform and drinking a refreshing Yoo-hoo.
Throughout the years, the product changed hands through a number of owners, including Iroquois Brands, and eventually ended up in the hands of its current owner, Cadbury-Shweppes. A resurgence of popularity emerged in 2000, when Yoo-hoo became a sponsor of the Vans Shoes “Warped” Tour.
A number of additional flavors have emerged over the years, some successful, some not. Strawberry and Banana Yoo-hoo became popular, while vanilla, island coconut, and egg-nog now sadly reside in the beverage graveyard. A light version of Yoo-hoo and a double fudge version are now available as well. Yoo-hoo was originally offered in 8-ounce glass bottles, but they were eventually replaced by 8-ounce boxes. One can still find the 15.5-ounce wide-mouth bottles, however, and the drink does seem to taste better from a glass container.
A properly chilled bottle of Yoo-hoo will slide down your throat almost effortlessly on a hot summer day. And, unlike your typical soda, will even give the kids a little calcium, protein, and a couple of vitamins. It’s certainly not health food by any means, but who says that life can’t be a little fun once in a while? And there is certainly fun to be had in a bottle of Yoo-Hoo.
Did you grow up drinking Yoo-hoo as a kid? Do you remember seeing the NY Yankee ads? Share your recollections of this refreshing drink with all of us in our comments section as we tip our hat to another beloved beverage from yesteryear.