Malted milk

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Malted milk is a powdered gruel made from a mixture of malted barley, wheat flour, and evaporated whole milk.

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 certain 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.[1]


Explorer Ernest de Koven Leffingwell poses with cases of Horlick's Malted Milk on Flaxman Island, Alaska, circa 1910.

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.[2] Ten years later, they earned a patent[3] 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.[4][5]

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.[2] 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.[4]


In popular fiction[edit]

Malted milk is the title of a blues song by Robert Johnson, famously interpreted by Eric Clapton on his album 'Unplugged'.

See also[edit]