The Milo Challenge.

Chocolate milk is quite popular in Sri Lanka – you often see people hanging around the kade, drinking from a packet of Kotmale or Highland. There used to be a time where you could find out which milk was the best by just looking down the road, but thankfully people don’t litter as much anymore. We wanted to find out which chocolate milk is the best, but we decided to take a slightly more scientific approach, – ie. taste them all.

The contenders were Newdale, Highland, Rich Life, Daily, Kotmale and Milo – Milo doesn’t quite come under the category of chocolate milk since it’s a malt, but it’s the most popular of all the choc milkyesque drinks so we’ve included it in our list. Let’s drink.

Newdale

The Newdale chocolate milk comes in a packet, the kind where you clip the corner off with a scissor and pop a straw in. We’re not crazy about this packaging because it makes the drink quite hard to hold and easy to spill. Not ideal if you’re wearing a white school uniform.

The taste isn’t particularly great either. It’s too sweet, and quite watery – not milky enough. And there’s a sort of chalky aftertaste.

It’s okay, we didn’t really like it that much.

(Rs. 30 for 170ml)
★★☆☆☆  2/5

Highland

The Highland packet is just like the Newdale one so it poses similar problems. It’s also pretty ugly – it’s got some gaudy colours and badly drawn cartoon people on it. And unlike the Newdale which wasn’t milky enough, this one was too milky, smothering the flavour of the chocolate.

Overall it just tasted sort of like cheap local chocolate – artificial and oversweet.

We didn’t like it.

(Rs. 30 for 180ml)
★★☆☆☆  2/5

Rich Life

We thought this milk had expired when we tried it. I’m still not quite convinced that it hadn’t – it tasted that bad. It comes in a carton, which makes it easier to drink. But don’t drink it ever. It tastes quite sour, like spoilt milk.

So not good.

(Rs. 35 for 200ml)
★☆☆☆☆ 1/5

Daily

The Daily chocolate milk isn’t bad at all. It’s quite nice, and it comes in a nice, easy to drink carton with an inoffensive image on the front. It’s the most expensive of our chocolate milks, but you get 200ml. It’s got a slightly richer taste than the others, and the milk seems thicker and more chocolatey.

This is good, we’d recommend.

(Rs. 40 for 200ml)
★★★★☆  4/5

Kotmale

The Kotmale milk is again quite good. It doesn’t taste artificial and has the right amount of milkiness, but it’s a bit too sweet. Sri Lankans like their sugar, so this may be fine with most, but we found the sweetness a bit overpowering.

There’s also been much speculation over the Kotmale packaging, since it takes the form of a milk packet like Highland and Newdale, yet has piercing holes like normal drink cartons. However, these holes are in odd places – usually a third of the way down the packet – so piercing it would cause all your milk to spill out.

There was a recent meme about this on the Sri Lankan memes facebook page: ‘Kotmale, Y U no make holes in the correct place (to put the straw)?’ We totally agree.

Incidentally, we also know the answer. This is because their printing machine slices the sachets nearly at random, meaning the straw hole could be at the top, middle or bottom. Having two holes gives you a better chance of better drinking, but sometimes they’re both in the middle, below the milk line, leading to inevitable spillage. At most kades they just cut open the top.

Anyway, this one of the better chocolate milks, and if you’re used to drinking your tea with three to four sugars the sweetness shouldn’t be a problem.

(Rs. 30 for 170ml)
★★★★☆  4/5

Milo

Milo is the classic chocolate drink. We like it because it’s not too sweet, doesn’t taste artificial and there’s a nice richness to the malt. I suspect it’s one of the most popular chocolate drinks. Indi says it tastes like cigarettes and wood but I disagree and overrule to give it four out of five.

The packaging is nice, it’s easy to drink, so yes, it’s very good.

(Rs. 35 for 180ml)
★★★★☆  4/5

Highland (Bottle)

We hadn’t included the Highland chocolate milk in our initial comparison, but due to popular request we’re adding it in. It wasn’t left out for any reason other than we just missed it when we went to the shop.

You guys are right, this milk is probably the best. It’s not too sweet, has a good amount of milk and tastes chocolatey without any hint of the artificial. It’s really, really good.

It’s funny how different the Highland bottle and Highland packet are – but we figure this is because the packet is UHT milk – which means it’s got a shelf life of about six months. All the packets we’ve tasted above are longlife, and this probably influences the taste quite a bit. The only criticism is that the bottle can be difficult to take home or carry around, it’s more for drinking at the kade or the tuck shop. But apart from that, excellent.

(Rs. 50 for 250ml)
★★★★☆  4.5/5

Prices

Brand Price (Rs) Size (ml) Price Per ml Price Per 180 ml
Highland 30 180 0.17 30
Kotmale 30 170 0.18 32
Rich Life 35 200 0.18 32
Newdale 30 170 0.18 32
Milo 35 180 0.19 35
Daily 40 200 0.20 36
Highland Bottle 50 250 0.20 36

The Highland packet is the cheapest chocolate drink, but it’s really not that great, the bottle is far better. Rich Life is fine for value at Rs. 35, but tastes expired, so we’d avoid that. Kotmale is both cheap and good, perhaps because they saved money on tricks like the randomly usable straw holes. The Highland bottle is excellent taste wise, but is the most expensive at Rs. 50 (Rs. 36 per 180ml). However, it’s the best so we don’t mind it being the priciest.

The Verdict

It’s surprising how much variation you can get amongst the same product. And it’s also surprising how horrendous chocolate milk can be. The main problem with the milks we didn’t like was that they tasted quite artificial and not chocolatey enough. The ones we leaned toward were the those that actually tasted of something resembling chocolate – rather than the sugary concoction of milk and water provided by Highland (packet), Newdale and Rich Life.

Kotmale, Daily and Milo are good, but the Highland bottle is the best. You’ll be fine if you go for any of the four. Kotmale’s main flaw is it’s problematic packaging. Daily and Milo are easy to drink, but they’re at the slightly more expensive end of the spectrum at Rs. 35 and Rs. 40. But we’d recommend just paying an extra five or ten bucks to avoid drinking something that tastes like it’s been left out in the sun too long or made from fake chocolate.

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