Hi, Matt: Why when I buy my container of chocolate milk every morning is it thick and smooth? When I make it at home it’s thin and watery. What’s the difference? — Robert B., San Diego
The difference is time. And the fact that all the little chocolatey flavor bits, no matter how infinitesimally small they’re ground, are only suspended in the milk when the two are mixed together. Combine them, then let them sit, say, in a dairy case for a day or so, and lots of the chocolatey flavor flecks will sift to the bottom of the carton. No good, sez the dairy industry, which tinkered around until it found just the right consistency to thicken the mix to help hold the chocolate in suspension until you, Mr. Naive Consumer, came along to drink it. These days, many foods like milk drinks and salad dressings are thickened with a processed form of kelp, which might qualify a carton of chocolate milk as seafood, assuming ketchup is still considered a vegetable.