Boo-hoo to Yoo-hoo “Chocolate Drink” [Inside the Label]

Yogi Berra and the Yankees helped Yoo-hoo chocolate drinks become an American icon in the 40′s and 50′s. The sweet and refreshing chocolaty taste became a kids’ favorite across the nation.

When buying Yoo-hoo, many parents mistakenly think they are providing their children a healthy milk-based drink with a touch of sweetness from chocolate so to make it fun to drink. They don’t notice that Yoo-hoo is a “chocolate drink”, not a “chocolate milk”.

A look at the ingredient list shows that there is virtually no milk here, mostly water, sugars, a smidgen of milk by-products, and some chemicals. Oh, and a bit of cocoa too.

Yoo-hoo is not something to treat the kids to. Here’s why…

What you need to know:

If you are looking for nutrition and ingredient information on Yoo-hoo’s website, forget about it. When companies don’t share this information on their website, you can rest assured their product does not have much to boast on the nutrition front. Such is the case with Yoo-hoo.

Let’s begin with the ingredient list (22 items!):

Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Whey (from Milk), Sugar, Corn Syrup Solids, Cocoa (Alkali Process), Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Sodium Caseinate (from Milk), Nonfat Dry Milk, Salt, Tricalcium Phosphate, Dipotassium Phosphate, Xanthan Gum, Guar Gum, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Soy Lecithin, Mono and Diglycerides, Vitamin A Palmitate, Niacinamide (Vitamin B3), Vitamin D3, Riboflavin (Vitamin B2).

Water is the main ingredient followed by copious amounts of the highly debated High fructose corn syrup. Sugar and Corn syrup solids are also added to further sweeten this drink, just for good measure…

Notice that there is no liquid milk in here, only milk by-products such as whey (ingredient #3), sodium caseinate (#8), and non-fat dry milk(#9). Whey is the leftover liquid after milk is curdled into cheese. Together with sodium caseinate, they are a source of protein.

Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil (#7) appears ahead of the milk powder here. Why in the world do we need trans-fat in a drink?

Tricalcium Phosphate is a source of calcium, while Dipotassium Phosphate is an additive that is used to prevent coagulation. The Guar and Xantham gums serve as thickeners, providing a richer creamier mouthfeel despite the fact that this is a water based product. You can read more about soy lecithin, an emulsifier, here.

The nutrition facts:
Each 15.5 oz bottle contains two servings, but many people gulp the entire bottle down. Here’s the info per 8oz serving:
130 calories, with only 10 from fat and almost all the rest from sugars! 27 grams of sugar, the equivalent of just under 7 teaspoons!

There’s also 210 mg of sodium in here, almost 10% of the daily maximum value. This is something you wouldn’t expect in a sweet drink.
Trans-fat appears as zero because of a labeling loophole that allows 0.5 grams or less per serving to be rounded down to zero. But remember, if you see a partially hydrogenated oil in the ingredient list, expect trans-fat. And no amount is good for you.

All the vitamins and minerals have been tacked on to this drink, and do not appear naturally in the main ingredients.

What to do at the supermarket:

Ideally you should have your children drinking milk with their cookies, not a sugary concoction. But at some point after infancy, our kids tend to forget the pure milk flavor and demand a sweet flavor. So drinking plain milk is a challenge for many families.

Adding a teaspoon of instant cocoa powder is also fine because you control the sugar level. Another option is to buy chocolate milk and mix it half and half with regular milk to drive down the sugar levels.

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  • http://foodadvocate.wordpress.com Beth

    Thank you for the analysis of Yoo-Hoo and for providing alternatives to readers who still want a chocolate milk drink from time to time. However, as someone who goes through chocolate milk cravings occasionally, I’m surprised you would suggest someone dilute pre-packaged chocolate milk. Every bottled chocolate milk I’ve seen in grocery stores contains more than just milk and chocolate. They have all included HFCS, at the very least, and sometimes a bunch of other ingredients as well. In my opinion, this makes the bottled chocolate milk no better than Yoo-Hoo.

    • http://www.fooducate.com/blog Editorial Staff

      @Beth

      As I wrote, my children are happy to start their day off with milk into which we mix in a flat teaspoon of cocoa powder. And that’s what I recommend others do. But for some people it’s a hassle (need a spoon, powder doesn’t mix well with the milk forming blobs…). The next best thing then is to mix the overly sweet chocolate milk with regular milk.
      Regarding the HFCS vs sugar in the chocolate milk. Both are “bad”, because there’s way too much sweetener in there. And while my personal preference is to try to choose food without HFCS, I don’t place it in the MUST AVOID category for my kids (aspartame, artificial food colorings, trans-fat).

      I think we’ll post on some chocolate milk options out there sometime in the near future.

      BTW – love the photos on your blog.

      • Henderson Granny

        I am new to the site, so I just happened on this year old topic. However, my two-year old granddaughter has discovered that she loves chocolate milk. So I have been giving her the “Rich Chocolate Ovaltine” (with the most vitamins & minerals I think one can get in a chocolate beverage) in Skim Milk. I only use ONE tablespoon in her 9 oz sippie cup (the Ovaltine label calls for four Tbsp in 8 oz of fat free milk). So she has to drink more than four times the amount of milk to get the one serving of Rich Chocolate Ovaltine. We sometimes use a Light Vanilla Soy Milk to mix up the Rich Chocolate Ovaltine, thereby increasing the protein amounts. She won’t drink the soy milk alone, but when mixed with the Rich Chocolate Ovaltine, she loves it! I believe this is a good alternative to drinking any other kind of chocolate milk. She also drinks my anitoxident-rich “CocoPure”, a coco drink mix by the brand name of “New Vitality” which can be found on the internet. Hope that info helps others.

  • http://foodadvocate.wordpress.com Beth

    @Editorial Staff
    Thanks for the compliment!

    I also appreciate how you are providing lots of better options to the highly-processed “foods” out there. I tend to think more in terms of black and white because that’s what works best for my food choices, but I know lots of people aren’t like that and will benefit from your suggestions.

  • Travis

    While I agree with the assesment here, I disagree with the overall desire to ban such items from a kids, or anyones, diet. The reality is that any food, additive, fat, etc is fine when in moderation. It is better to teach kids to grab a carrot for a snack rather than the cookie. But at the same time, grabbing a yahoo once in a while poses no health risk to the child. I believe the whole mentality of “everything is bad” is why so many kids break away from the diet their parents kept them on as soon as the mature to an older age or have their own cash and friends. But if they have learned all foods, as a general rule, are good and OK if used in moderation, they will tend to stick to these ideas. My wife and I have raised our kids with that understanding, taught them to be balanced in their food intake, and they are all fit and teach their own kids the same things. And they grew up drinking yoohoo, but did so in balance. Too many peas, corn, limas, potatoes can put a belly on a kid as quick as yoohoo. And any amount of intake without proper exercise will also aid the bulge. Just my thoughts on this matter.

  • BOB HALL

    THE GARBAGE THAT IS FOUND IN BOTTLES OF YOO HOO BEARS LITTLE OR NO RESEMBLANCE TO THE ORIGINAL PRODUCT. MANY OF THE CURRENT INGREDIENTS WERE NOT COMMERICALLY AVAILABLE WHEN THE PRODUCT WAS DEVELOPED. THE ORIGINAL FORMULA CALLED FOR DRY MILK AND A VERY LOW FAT COCO POWDER ALONG WITH MANY NATURAL FLAVORINGS. THE LOW FAT COCO WAS KEEP IN ASSURING THAT THERE WOULD NOT BE PRODUCT SEPARATION OVER THE SHELF LIFE OF THE PRODUCT. REAL SUGAR WAS INCLUDED. MY FATHER IN LAW HAD THE FRANCHISE FOR THE YOO HOO PRODUCT SOUTH OF JERSEY EAST OF THE MISSISSIPPI INCLUDING MOST OF FLORIDA WITH THE EXCEPTION OF AN AREA AROUND MIAMI WHICH WAS GIVEN TO THE FOUNDERS SON ALFONSO.

    THIS PRODUCT IS ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF TURNING A TRUE BEVERAGE OF CHAMPIONS INTO A BOTTLE OF GARBAGE IN THE PURSUIT OF PROFIT.

    IF YOU WERE TO MAKE A REAL BATCH OF THE ORIGINAL YOO HOO YOU WOULDN’T DRINK ANOTHER CHOCOLATE MILK PRODUCT.

    • George

      Your screaming…

    • Bob Catroneo Sr

      Hi Bob
      My name is Bob Catroneo Sr. I am the eldest grandson of the Natale and Anna Olivieri family. My grandfather was the originator of Yoo-Hoo Chocolate Beverages. I lived with my grandfather, grandmother,, mom. dad and my brother all of my childhood and teenage years. I know the first formula for I actually made it in my dads shop in Miami in the mid 50′ early 60′s. My mom was the youngest of the four children of Natale and Anna Olivieri. My dad ( Steve Catroneo) manufactured and distributed Yoo-Hoo Chocolate in Souith Floirda. I remember most of the people involved with the company. I had dinner with Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Yogi Berra at my uncle Alber’t s( youngst son of Natale)house in Hollywood Florda.
      Yoo-Hoo was a very expensive product to make. Ingredients and labor costs were several times that of carbonated beverages..
      When I made Yoo-Hoo it was with 100% granular cane sugar, Non fat dry milk, Cocoa from Holland, and ingredients like vanelin and cinnimon imported from, I believe Africa. It was a labor intensive product to manufacturer. It had to be pasteurized in package @ 246 degrees for 20 minutes.
      Our plant in Miami manufactureed 1,500 cases a day. Carbonated sodas could run 2,,000 cases per hour. Labor and energy cost were crushing our profits. But Yoo-Hoo still did extremely well.. The Yankees love my family and went above and beyond to promote Yoo-Hoo.
      I spent many nights talking to my grandfather. Everyone loved him.
      He use to tell me when there were sugar rations he would buy honey from Cuba to make Yoo-Hoo. He didn;t believe in using any inferior products for his Yoo-Hoo. He told me there were bees throughout the neighborhood trying to get his presious honey..
      You mentioned that the Cocoa we used was low fat due to separation. This is partially true. The butterfat eriched cocoa would rise to the top of the bottle and appeared to be seperated. It wasn’t .Just needed to be shaken. Mot people never shook a beverage in those days.
      I remember my dad telling me why Yoo-Hoo was called a drink, and not a dairy product. My dad, Uncles and Grandfather had the choice to determine what classification they wanted Yoo-Hoo to be in. My Grandfather and my Uncle decided it will be a drink, and not a dairy product, because Yoo-Hoo didn’t need refrigeration at that time and all dairy products did. It was a great move.

      There are so many stories. I had an incredible life with my family.
      God rest there souls.

    • LOLCAPS

      IS THERE ANY PARTICULAR FUCKING REASON YOU’RE TYPING IN ALL CAPITALS

  • Rev. Mike

    I cant seem to understand all this bashing of YooHoo. while there are some ingerdients that are not the most healthy they are alot better than most. has anyone ever checked out a bottle of Pepsi, any other soda or even most iced teas( they are 5 times worse for you). over all this product is not too bad considering the other options.

  • http://iamjamesmartin.com James Martin

    it don’t even matta.. i love this stuff.

  • Mantuvo2

    Incorrect. Serving size is 1 can (11oz) for 180 calories. The drink is a much better substitute to soda.

  • Mantuvo2

    Incorrect. Serving size is 1 can (11oz) for 180 calories. The drink is a much better substitute to soda.

  • mjkt

    I disagree with you about keeping it from children. Yoohoo was such a staple part of my childhood. I remember going to the convenient store and getting a bottle of Yoohoo. Great memories! I turned out just fine when it comes to my health. 

  • http://twitter.com/Big5000K Jakob Zaborowski

    Love YooHoo too much to read this.

  • ????????????????????????

    almost spat my yoohoo out while reading.NEVER DRINKING THIS CRAP AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • ???????????????????????????

      THIS IS CRAP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Yoohoowithrum

    Fuck you yoo hoo is the shit stick to reviewing tofu cause aint nobody got time for this

  • http://www.facebook.com/travis.decaminada Travis Decaminada

    Why are you such a cunt?

  • Boohoo

    I live in europe and love chocolate milk. I visited USA in 2002, and naturally got my hands on a bottle of Yoohoo. Expecting it to be chocolate milk, i didn’t look at the label, but as soon as i had a gulp, I could taste it. “What is this stuff?” The taste was watery and shallow, not the rich milky cocoa taste I was used to. I looked at the label and understood. Another super processed fake product. I couldn’t understand why, because chocolate milk is very simple, in Europe it usually contains just UHT milk, sugar, cocoa, an emulsifier and a thickener. Doesn’t even need a preservative since UHT milk has a really long shelf life. The taste is always great, no matter which country. I guess in the US the original product turned into this crap when the company wanted to start making it in huge batches from cheaper bulk ingredients to maximize profit.

  • amed cisse

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