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How Now, Brown Cow

by Rabbi Rami ShapiroOctober 01, 2019
Columnists
Chocolate milk with chocolate pieces. Glass of chocolate milk on a brown background.

Betka82/Getty Images

“The fact that I am not among the 16.4 million Americans who think chocolate milk comes from brown cows is sheer luck!”

I’m not anti-American, but I do take a perverse delight in the idiocy of our people. Case in point: The Innovation Center of US Dairy conducted a survey last April in which 1,000 adult Americans were asked where chocolate milk came from.

Wait for it … wait for it …

While 48% of respondents admitted they didn’t know where chocolate milk came from, 7% were convinced chocolate milk came from brown cows.

I admit that 7% doesn’t sound so bad, especially when a beef study showed that 20% of Americans didn’t know that hamburgers came from cows. But when you translate that 7% into actual numbers of Americans who think chocolate milk comes from brown cows, the number is a staggering 16.4 million people!

Can that be true? I don’t know: I mean if I got a call from a survey taker from the Innovation Center of US Dairy asking me where chocolate milk came from, and among the answers permitted was “brown cows” I might, just for the fun of it, answer “brown cows.” But even if some other guy in the survey likes to mess with surveyors, that still leaves 16,399,000 million Americans who think chocolate milk comes from brown cows. That’s a lot of misinformed Americans. Whose fault is that?

You can’t blame this on Fox News, Twitter, or Facebook. This falls squarely on the shoulders of U.S. educators. I for one have no recollection of being taught that chocolate milk was white milk mixed with chocolate (or a chocolate-like synthetic substance), and that all milk is white milk and comes from cows regardless of their color. No one told me that. The fact that I am not among the 16.4 million Americans who think chocolate milk comes from brown cows is sheer luck! 

But maybe the 7% are onto something. Doesn’t the “fact” that all milk is white regardless of the color of the cow from which it comes smack of white privilege? Maybe the 7% are simply refusing to go along with white bovine supremacy. I would prefer to think this is true than to admit 16,399,000 of my fellow Americans are stupid.

Thinking about this opens up a slew of other questions. Does chocolate rice milk come from brown rice? Does chocolate almond milk come from brown almonds? Aren’t all almonds brown? If so, where does white almond milk come from? Once you are willing to entertain these thoughts there is no end to what can keep you up at night. To help yourself fall asleep try a cup of warm milk. I’ll leave the color up to you.

Like the funny side of Rabbi Rami? You might enjoy his story “Is This Weed Kosher?”


Rabbi Rami Shipiro

Rabbi Rami Shapiro is an award-winning author, essayist, poet, and teacher. His spiritual advice column, “Roadside Assistance for the Spiritual Traveler,” addresses reader questions pertaining to religion, spirituality, faith, family, God, social issues, and more. His latest book is Surrendered—The Sacred Art: Shattering the Illusion of Control and Falling into Grace with Twelve-Step Spirituality.

He has this to say about religion: “To me, religions are like languages: no language is true or false; all languages are of human origin; each language reflects and shapes the mindset of the civilization that speaks it; there are things you can say in one language that you cannot say or cannot say as well in another; and the more languages you know, the more nuanced your understanding of life. Judaism is my mother tongue, yet in matters of the spirit I strive to be multi-lingual. In the end, however, the deepest language of the soul is silence.”

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