Every kid has fond memories of sitting down with a cool glass of chocolate milk, perhaps with a cookie on the side. While you might think of this sweet beverage as a fairly recent development, it's actually been around for hundreds of years. Mass exploitation, blatant theft, and dubious scientific theories helped make the drink a best-seller, as much as Nesquik and Hershey would like to deny it. The truth might just leave you with an upset stomach.
Regular milk has been a staple all on its own, but for those who are not fond of the taste, there's chocolate milk to save the day. Smart parents know it's a great way to bring necessary nutrition to young children. And the man who popularized it did have health in mind, though his own reputation is a little bit shady.
Sometime in the early 1700s, chocolate milk was said to be introduced to Western society by Irish botanist and physician Hans Sloane. He got credit for inventing it during his time in Jamaica, though that notion has sparked a long-running debate ever since. But before his reputation was tarnished, the British Empire saw him as the next scientific mastermind.
A rising star
After being appointed to the prestigious Royal Society at only 25 years of age, Sloane was sent to Jamaica to study the medical benefits of various plants. Hans documented hundreds of new species and pioneered some new treatments, while also making strides in his personal life. The Irishman married Elizabeth Langley Rose, though he might have loved her money more than his wife.
Elizabeth was a wealthy heiress and a widow to boot, so her fat wallet gave Sloane the leeway to carry out all kinds of scientific pursuits. He built up one of the most impressive botanical collections in the world and excitedly tested out new theories, though the doctor also spent some time overseeing the grim business that kept his wife so rich.