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Can anyone explain the origins and reasons for the huge consumption of Milo (a rather sicky sweet chocolate drink from Nestle, made by adding Milo powder to milk) in Malaysia? I was reminded of this in a new Malaysian fast food restaurant called Pelita Nasi Kandar that's opened in Chennai (Madras), India.

I think Nestle launched Milo ages back in India, but it flopped and I think was taken off the market. But here, to prove its an authentic Malaysian restaurant, was Milo on the menu again, imported, the restaurant manager assured me, from Malasyia and available both hot and cold (ais Milo, the way most people drank it he told me).

Does anyone know why Milo became such a hit in Malaysia? Is it also popular in other countries in SE Asia, or is it just Malaysia? Is it because of Nestle - are other Nestle products as popular (the Mee Goreng seemed to be made from Maggi noodles, so perhaps they are, or perhaps this is not the best of restaurants)? And why on earth would an artificial tasting (well, to my taste) chocolate drink become popular in Malaysia when they grow so much of the real thing?

Any information on this and other aspects of Malaysia's love for Milo would be appreciated. Is it drunk in any other way there, apart from hot and with ice cubes?

Vikram

PS: While I'm asking questions, what does Nasi Kandar mean? The restaurant manager said something about it being typical to the Penang region, but couldn't quite explain what it meant and I didn't particularly feel like hanging around to find out. The rotis in the restaurant were good, but everything else was rather ghastly.

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Maggi Mee served in a restaurant? Shocking! That's an instant product to use at home as a shortcut! It would be like an American restaurant using Rice-A-Roni or something.

Malaysians often have sweet teeth. More than that, I couldn't say. I can't remember ever being served Milo in Malaysia, so it's not nearly as ubiquitous as tea with condensed milk, for example.

I'll let someone else handle explaining Nasi Kandar.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Ovaltine and Horlick is popular in Hong Kong style cafe, and it is usually the children that drinks them. Milo can be found too but not as popular.

One way of drinking Milo

1.) Mix lots of Milo with cold milk, mix until 85% of the powder have been dissolved

2.) Enjoy your drink with half dissolved Milo (apparently licking the spoon with half dissolved Milo is the best part)

Sometimes it is Milo, Hot Water, and evaporated milk or condensed milk.

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Popped in for a quick mention about the maggi goreng (I know it's kind of off topic). My first time back in KL after 16 years and I notice that maggi goreng is what my cousin loves to eat! :blink: It is quite tasty though! :biggrin:

As for Milo, I saw it all over the place. Every coffee shop was offering hot or cold Milo. My hypothesis is that the Milo helps hide the flavour of the milk...fresh milk is expensive and I recall drinking powdered when I was young...not my favourite. I'm not partial to the UHT stuff either. Could this be the case?

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Popped in for a quick mention about the maggi goreng (I know it's kind of off topic). My first time back in KL after 16 years and I notice that maggi goreng is what my cousin loves to eat! :blink: It is quite tasty though! :biggrin:

You'd be shocked to be served that in a restaurant, though, wouldn't you?

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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You'd be shocked to be served that in a restaurant, though, wouldn't you?

Depends on the definition of restaurant. Coffeeshops in KL style restaurant? Fine. Else, not fine.

Sorry, upon reading my previous post again, I realised that I hadn't completed what I meant to say...I found maggi goreng at most Indian coffeeshops in KL.

(edited to add correction)

Edited by su-lin (log)
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From an American perspective, I love Milo because of the slight malt flavor (...there is malt in it, right?) I never found the flavor to be exactly like chocolate: Milo was different from hot chocolate, and it was an alternative to the super-sweet Hershey's syrup that I'd use for cold chocolate milk, and the Swiss Miss I'd use for hot chocolate.

That being said, when I was in Malaysia as a youngster (this was back in '94 for a summer), all I drank was ais Milo, because it was everywhere, and my family would just order it immediately for all us kids. We'd drink tea at tea time, but with meals and any other time, we'd drink Milo. It was a way to get us to drink milk, I think, but it's just so popular with kids over there, and it's an alternative to tea and soda and whatnot.

As to the milk issues (powdered vs. fresh), I'm not sure, but all I can say is that Milo is huge with kids. They even have Milo box drinks. Man, I need to get back to Malaysia! :wacko:

Ah, one question: I say Milo like mill-oh. Others say my-lo. What's the correct pronunciation?

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Can anyone explain the origins and reasons for the huge consumption of Milo (a rather sicky sweet chocolate drink from Nestle, made by adding Milo powder to milk) in Malaysia?

As far as I can recall, Milo (from the tin, can't say about the packet drinks) is not by itself that sweet. I don't have a tin in front of me to analyze the sugar content but from memory, condensed milk (standard milo in East Malaysian coffee shops) or sugar (milo-o, the "o" to mean "dark" milo) is often added to complete the drink.

It may be true that Malaysia produces cocoa, but I don't remember from my childhood any local chocolate drink product that even came close to Milo in terms of taste. There may be some now, but I can't say... Myself, I always preferred Horlicks to Milo, and still do.

But even in the North American market, I am hard pressed to find a chocolate drink product that I would rather have over Milo. Ovaltine has too much sugar, and so too all those Hershey chocolate syrups, and regular cocoa powder simply doesn't dissolve that well.

As an aside, for a cocoa producing country, Malaysia made (during my childhood) some incredibly horrid chocolate products. I didn't know anyone who preferred the locally made chocolates to imports (e.g. Cadbury).

I would suggest making Milo really strong, at a minimum 4 heaped teaspoons per standard coffee mug, and add hot water or hot milk, and no sweetener. That should give you a nice strong chocolate flavor, without making it too sweet.

Milo is a huge sponsor of sports in Malaysia, and their marketing remains widespread. I doubt if anyone who has spent any appreciable amount of time (in the 70s and 80s) in Malaysia could possibly forget the jingle "Milo milo, anda jadi sehat and kuat!". I couldn't get that tune out of my head even if I tried. I drink it to stay "healthy and strong!" :smile:

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Ah, one question: I say Milo like mill-oh. Others say my-lo. What's the correct pronunciation?

Just had a discussion about this with an Aussie friend this past weekend. Apparently, the Australians pronounce the drink as "My-lo" while Malaysians say "Mee-lo".

Whenever I'm in Malaysia, one of our favourite drinks to order is "Milo-peng" or Ais Milo. It's Milo powder mixed with hot water and condensed milk, topped off with ice. I think parents give children Milo to drink because it is 'fortified' with vitamins. There are also Milo chocolate bars, and ice cream cups, too.

I'm also a fan of Horlicks, and like the "Malties" candies. :biggrin:

Oh yeah, another way we enjoy Milo is to sprinkle it over vanilla ice cream.

Edited by lannie (log)
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They sell Milo at my local Indian grocery store here in the suburbs of Philadelphia. So there must be some sort of following over in India, not a complete failure perhaps?

Pan, as for Maggi the more popular way of serving is fried with some additions like mustard greens, eggs, tofu, not straight from the pack and relatively inexpensive and tasty too. As previously mentioned these are served in mamak stands, not haute cuisines places or even anything that could remotely be considered a restaurant.

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My brother-in-law went to Australia as a mature architecture student (at a ripe age of 34). When he came back for hols after a year, he got 2 big tins of Milo to bring back to Melbourne with him. He says it tastes different (not as tasty) there. :wink:

TPcal!

Food Pix (plus others)

Please take pictures of all the food you get to try (and if you can, the food at the next tables)............................Dejah

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Ok ... I'm gonna try explain the Nasi Kandar part. :smile: In the old days, these Indian Muslims (mamaks) rather than set up stalls or restaurant prefer to move around and carry two huge pots of rice and other dishes at each end of a long pole which they balance on their shoulder - this method of carrying things is called 'kandar' in Malay - hence the name Nasi Kandar. Nasi=rice. Nasi Kandar is believed to originate from Penang.

And I believe Milo is ever so popular largely due to the fact of effective advertising. It has been touted as the 'health food' drink for as long as I remember because it is fortified with vitamins. It's not more of a chocolate drink but rather a chocolate flavored 'food drink'. Ovaltine comes close but Milo still reigns. In hospitals, Milo is served. Doctors would advise patients to drink Milo if they can't eat anything else. Mothers would serve Milo to babies who no longer wants to drink milk. And Milo is usually made with sweetened condensed milk rather than fresh milk. And then there are chocolate flavored Horlicks, Vico, etc .... but nothing compares to Milo. :smile:

Anyone remembers the taste of the free cold Milo served from the Milo trucks? Oh maaan ..... nothing is as good. Not even the Milo you make at home. The only Milo that comes close to this is the ready-to-drink Milo in boxes (packets). :smile:

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Anyone remembers the taste of the free cold Milo served from the Milo trucks? Oh maaan ..... nothing is as good. Not even the Milo you make at home. The only Milo that comes close to this is the ready-to-drink Milo in boxes (packets).   :smile:

LOL :biggrin: . kew I was just going to bring up the Milo trucks :raz:. I was one of those weird kids who didn't like Milo, Ovaltine, Horlicks etc (and I still don't) but I loved those teensy paper cups of Milo they served from the Milo trucks - it was the only time I would drink Milo. Used to look forward to days that the Milo truck would visit the school. Do they still have them nowadays?

Did anyone else used to eat milo mixed with milk powder ... without any water mixed in it :laugh: ?

Edited by Shiewie (log)
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Milo!! One of my fave childhood memories is sports day in school because that's when the Milo van comes along and dispenses cold Milo to all of us. We'd all form a queue with our Milo coupons and exchange it for a small paper cup of the best brewed Milo! A quick survey among friends in Malaysia seems to come up with the same result - the best Milo ever is the one which comes from the Milo van.

Nowadays, I just inhale it straight from the tetra pack - not quite as good, but convenient.

Speaking about Ovaltine - back in the 40's or 50's, Ovaltine used to reign in Malaysia (or Malaya in those days). Milo was a distant second in the beverage race. Unfortunately, the Ovaltine distributorship was with a company owned by some of my family members. A long standing joke between one of my cousins and me is that our family is responsible for the collapse of Ovaltine in Malaysia! (Not to be repeated in front of one of our uncles who's extremely sensitive about this)

:-)

Maukitten

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Hi Vikram

Not sure how Maggi Mee Goreng came about but it sort of appeared on the scene about fifteen to twenty years ago. Before that we used to have just Mee Goreng made with fresh yellow noodles.

Pan - Maggi Mee Goreng actually tastes pretty good :biggrin: ... think it has something to do with the slightly springy texture compared to the fresh yellow noodles that they use for the normal Mee Goreng. It's not usually found in restaurants, more so in mamak eateries and road-side hawkers.

Edited by Shiewie (log)
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I know this thread is abt Milo, but I've often wondered similarly abt the strange appeal of Spam in E Asia. (I don't think it's as popular in SE Asia, am I right?)

Think it might partly be due to Ma Ling Luncheon Meat from China which beat SPAM to the scene here in SE Asia.

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Speaking about Ovaltine - back in the 40's or 50's, Ovaltine used to reign in Malaysia (or Malaya in those days).

LOL! Okay ... my memory is from the mid-60s onwards. :wink:

Did anyone else used to eat milo mixed with milk powder ... without any water mixed in it  ?

Oh yes! But what I did was just eat it by itself. Sometimes though I'd let it sit out and eat it up when it begins to get 'chewy' - putting it in the freezer help speed up the process. My Mom used to hide the Milo tin from me because Milo isn't exactly cheap (I could snack on them non-stop).

And yes, they do have the Milo trucks now too. I look forward to my kids Sports Day. I'd shamelessly ask for a cup. :wink:

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Ok ... I'm gonna try explain the Nasi Kandar part. :smile: In the old days, these Indian Muslims (mamaks) rather than set up stalls or restaurant prefer to move around and carry two huge pots of rice and other dishes at each end of a long pole which they balance on their shoulder - this method of carrying things is called 'kandar' in Malay - hence the name Nasi Kandar. Nasi=rice. Nasi Kandar is believed to originate from Penang.

interesting: "kandha" is hindi for shoulder; "kaandh" in bengali

and in india we have a bewildering array of things to add to milk. bournvita was the reigning champ in my childhood. horlicks was strictly for the grandma set.

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I know this thread is abt Milo, but I've often wondered similarly abt the strange appeal of Spam in E Asia. (I don't think it's as popular in SE Asia, am I right?)

Think it might partly be due to Ma Ling Luncheon Meat from China which beat SPAM to the scene here in SE Asia.

I have a can of mu lum Luncheon Meat sitting on the table. It will be sliced thin and pan fried until the outside is crispy.

Spam is not good....... I don't eat them.

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According to a friend of mine, Milo was available since the 50s and Ovaltine, brought in by a company called Wander, came later. Because of the chocolate nature, it was very likely a European import into this region, because none of the native cuisines feature chocolate very much.

And the Ovaltine from Australia does indeed taste slightly different from what is available here, but some people prefer the Australian versions than the locally available ones.

My favourite way of drinking/eating Milo was to spoon an extraordinary amount of Milo into a glass of cold Magnolia full cream milk, and then eat/drink the whole thing. I've eaten tried freezing the mixture and eating the lollies. I think I preferred the cold milk-Milo combo more.

As for Ma Ling luncheon meat, I usually slice it thick so that I can fry them crisp on the outside and still soft inside. Yummy!

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My favourite way of drinking/eating Milo was to spoon an extraordinary amount of Milo into a glass of cold Magnolia full cream milk, and then eat/drink the whole thing. I've eaten tried freezing the mixture and eating the lollies. I think I preferred the cold milk-Milo combo more.

Milo lollies always seemed to end up a little powdery texture wise, could never figure out why. Didn't help that I hated Milo when I was young, more of a Horlicks fan growing up.

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Pan - Maggi Mee Goreng actually tastes pretty good :biggrin: ...

Oh, I agree, it's definitely a high-quality product, but I really wouldn't expect low-quality food products to do very well in Malaysia, anyway.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Thanks for the insights everyone. I think the theory that it was used to conceal the flavour of powdered milk sounds most plausible to me. In India too there have been periods when good quality fresh milk wasn't that easily in the large cities - a much harder deprivation for such a milk obsessed country - and I think that's one reason that the add-to-milk products like Horlicks and Bournvita became popular, both for taste and for nutrition. The 'white revolution' that Monica wrote a piece about sometime back has now made milk shortages rare and, not coincidentally I think, sales of these products are stagnating.

On the Maggi Goreng issue, I don't know how authentic it is, but it didn't taste that bad. It might just be unshakeable childhood memories (or more likely memories of my business school, where this was one of the few edible foods served in the canteen), but I think Maggi counts as one of the more acceptable of the range of ready-to-eat foods. Perhaps its the kilos of taste enhancers, or perhaps the springiness of texture that someone mentioned, but it does come out quite nicely in stir fries. (Its even quite nice eaten raw!)

And Kew, thanks for the Nasi Kandar explanation,

Vikram

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