Will the Real Cereal Milk Please Stand Up?
On the left: Tastyfood's Cereal Milk. On the right: Momofuku Milk Bar's Cereal Milk.
In late 2008 chef David Chang garnered lots of attention by introducing an ostensibly new product called cereal milk at his newly opened Momofuku Milk Bar.
Made by soaking breakfast cereal in milk, and then filtering the result, it was the brainchild of pastry chef Christina Tosi. The product was intended as a flashback to childhood, when certain of us supposedly enjoyed drinking the milk after we'd eaten the cereal even more than eating the cereal itself.
The recipe gained such momentum, in fact, that it was featured by Martha Stewart. But was it simply an eye-catching novelty, or a bonafide taste delight? Decadently, the recipe involves actually throwing the cereal away after the milk has been infused. My mom would have killed me.
The question recurred recently when Fork in the Road stumbled on a product actually called Cereal Milk in an Asian grocery store in Flushing. The product, sold in a stumpy beverage can, was manufactured by Tasty Foods of Singapore. Then and there we decided that a taste test was in order.
Next: Statistics and Tasting Notes
Tastyfood's (left), Momofuku's (right), in the glow of natural light.
Momofuku Milk Bar Cereal Milk Size: 16 ounces Cost: $5 Cost per ounce: 31 cents Color: pale cream Packaging: plastic bottle Cereal used: Corn flakes
Tastyfood Cereal Milk Size: 245 ml (~8 ounces) Cost: 79 cents Cost per ounce: 10 cents Color: beige Packaging: aluminum can Cereal used: corn
Momofuku: The beverage presents itself as a pallid, creamy beverage, just the shade of ivory you might paint your dining room. The beverage is slightly sweet, with little corn flavor. It has a pleasing mouth feel, silky and full. There are but four ingredients in this cereal milk: milk, corn flakes, brown sugar, and salt.
Tastyfood: The beverage is deeply colored, but tastes thin. It is apparently intended as a nutritional beverage, perhaps for children or invalids. The label lists 16 ingredients, including corn, oats, and wheat. Though it doesn't contain any actual milk, the ingredients list includes milk powder and non-dairy creamer. The flavor is sweet and assertive, though it could be mistaken for iced tea.
Next: Announcement of the winner
The 13th Street entrance to Momofuku Milk Bar
Taken just as a beverage, you might prefer Tastyfood's Cereal Milk, or you might prefer Momofuku's. Certainly, Momofuku's is more wholesome, but there is something going on in the canned cereal milk that is interesting, if not memorable. But when push comes to shove, I know which one I'd prefer in my coffee. I just don't like either of them very much as an actual beverage.
The Winner: Neither
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