Malt powder comes in two forms: diastatic and nondiastatic. Diastatic malt contains enzymes that break down starch into sugar; this is the form bakers add to bread dough to help the dough rise and create a good crust. Nondiastatic malt has no active enzymes and is used primarily for flavor, mostly in beverages. It sometimes contains sugar, coloring agents, and other additives.
London pharmacist James Horlick developed ideas for an improved, wheat and malt-based nutritional supplement for infants. Despairing of his opportunities in England, James joined his brother William, who had gone to Racine, Wisconsin, to work at a relative's quarry. In 1873, James and William formed J & W Horlicks to manufacture their brand of infant food in nearby Chicago. Ten years later, they earned a patent for a new formula enhanced with dried milk. The company originally marketed its new product as "Diastoid", but trademarked the name "malted milk" in 1887.
Despite its origins as a health food for infants and invalids, malted milk found unexpected markets. Explorers appreciated its lightweight, nonperishable, nourishing qualities, and took malted milk on treks worldwide. William Horlick became a patron of Antarctic exploration, and Admiral Richard E. Byrd named a mountain range in Antarctica after him. Back in the US, people began drinking Horlick's new beverage for enjoyment. James Horlick returned to England to import his American-made product back home and was eventually made a baronet. Malted milk became a standard offering at soda fountains, and found greater popularity when mixed with ice cream in a "malt". "Malt shops" owe their name to the Horlick brothers.
- Malted milk biscuits
- Malted milkshakes
- Malted hot drinks, such as Horlicks and Ovaltine
- Malted milk balls: malted milk is used in the popular candy confections Whoppers (manufactured by Hershey Co.), Mighty Malts (manufactured by Necco), and Maltesers (manufactured by Mars, Inc).
- Malted milk is used in some bagel recipes as a substitute for non-diastatic malt powder.