A Surprising Number Of People Believe That Chocolate Milk Comes From Brown Cows

A surprisingly large number of people also drink milk straight out of the carton.

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Quick: Where does chocolate milk come from?

For most people, the answer is fairly obvious: It’s regular milk mixed with chocolate syrup.

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But according to a survey conducted by the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, 7 percent of Americans think that chocolate milk comes from brown cows. That’s about 17.3 million people.

Granted, the survey wasn’t performed with scientific rigor. The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy polled 1,000 adults over a five-day period, and some people may have selected the answer as a joke. Other people may have been nervous, simply choosing the first answer that came to mind.

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And some people, of course, might actually believe that brown cows give chocolate milk.

“It is a bit surprising,” a spokeswoman for the Innovation Center told CNN. “We don’t have a suggestion as to why people would draw that conclusion.”

No word on whether these people also believe that black cows produce licorice-flavored milk.

As The Washington Post reported, a shocking 48 percent of respondents said that they didn’t know where chocolate milk comes from—they simply don’t think about how chocolate-flavored dairy products make their way onto the shelves.

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The center hasn’t released all of the results of the survey yet, but they did release a few startling tidbits. 

For instance, 37 percent of adults secretly drink milk straight from the container. (Think about that before having a bowl of cereal at a friend’s house.)

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About 5 percent of people abstain from drinking milk altogether, meaning the majority of Americans have at least a half-gallon tucked away somewhere in the fridge.

Oh, and adults don’t abstain from the chocolate stuff, either. But they might not admit it to their friends: 29 percent of respondents who’d purchased chocolate milk said that they use their kids as an excuse to buy the treat.

For what it’s worth, these types of surveys always have a few surprising results, and there’s a reason for that.

Gallup once reported that 6 percent of Americans don’t believe that the moon landings really occurred. We’d like to think that it’s many of the same people who believe the brown cow thing, but the polling experts at Gallup have a much more sensible explanation.

“It is not unusual to find about that many people in the typical poll agreeing with almost any question that is asked of them,” wrote Frank Newport of Gallup, “so the best interpretation is that this particular conspiracy theory is not widespread.”

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In other words, if you ask enough people whether chocolate milk comes from brown cows, some of them will be swayed by the question itself. Given that the Innovation Center’s survey polled just 1,000 Americans, we can’t definitively say that the 7 percent figure is totally accurate.

Still, there are certainly some people out there who haven’t thought about where their food comes from. That’s a bit frightening in and of itself—and it speaks to some of the issues that Americans have with nutrition.

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