What Is Yoo-hoo?

If you’re anything like me, Yoo-hoo was a staple of your childhood. Unlike relics like Choco Tacos and Kudos Bars (pour one out), Yoo-hoo has stood the test of time. Probably because of its unexpectedly long shelf-life. (We’ll get into that later.) The delicious elixir and its vibrant yellow packaging takes me right back to my carefree youth but still hits right, even as I weep over a pile of bills in adulthood.  

Though it’s unquestionably delicious, I do have some other questions. For example, it’s marketed as a “chocolate drink.” What does that mean? Who is she and what’s she hiding? Let’s dive into all the questions you’ve ever had (and some you haven’t) about Yoo-hoo.. 

What is Yoo-hoo?

As a greeting, “Yoo-hoo” is the cringe-inducing phrase your great aunt would always holler as she got out of her car and walked over to plant a red-lipped smooch on your cheek. As a drink? ​​Yoo-hoo is delicious. It’s childhood. It’s refreshing, sweet, and smooth but you know what it’s not? Chocolate milk. You may have grown up assuming that it was chocolate milk, but it’s actually marketed as “chocolate drink.” There’s also a vanilla drink, cookies and cream drink, and strawberry drink, but none of them hold a candle to the chocolate version. 

Is Yoo-hoo milk?

Yoo-hoo is not milk, but we’ll call it milk-adjacent. It’s mostly water and corn syrup, but it does contain dry milk as well as the dairy derivative of whey, which gives it creaminess.

What is Yoo-hoo made of?

The specific, official formula for Yoo-hoo is still secret—supposedly locked away by the scientist (and American hero, in our minds) known as Dr. Yoo-Hoo. The ingredients, however, are public information for seasoned investigators like myself and anyone else who can read. Among other things, the decidedly-not-milk-chocolate-beverage contains water, high fructose corn syrup, whey, cocoa, and dry milk. There are also additives for preserving, packaging, thickening, and emulsifying.

Is Yoo-hoo chocolate water?

Yoo-hoo is not chocolate water, it is “chocolate drink.” Yes, the first ingredient is water, but that whey, dry milk, and corn syrup are doing some real work. If you still think it’s just chocolate water, why don’t you go make some chocolate water in your kitchen and then tell us you could get it to taste as good as Yoo-hoo.

Does Yoo-hoo expire?

Yoo-hoo does, in fact, expire. Though it’s not as famously resilient as the Twinkie, it’s much more shelf-stable than chocolate milk. Because of its processing and packaging, it can last months past the printed expiration date, as can everything else if you really don’t care about your digestive system. Though Yoo-hoo is pretty safe sealed at room temperature, the timer starts once the container is opened. At this point, you should drink up within a few days.

Does Yoo-hoo have caffeine?

A 15.5 oz bottle of Yoo-hoo has approximately 2 mg of naturally occurring caffeine. That’s not a lot compared to the 95 grams of caffeine in a cup of coffee. If you find yourself a little jittery, it’s probably just the excitement about getting another botte. . 

When did Yoo-hoo come out?

Natale Olivieri, a New Jersey grocery store owner, launched Yoo-hoo in the 1920s. According to The Henry Ford Museum, it was an instant hit locally, but really took off in the ‘50s when Yoo-hoo was called the “drink of champions” by the New York Yankees.  

Who makes Yoo-hoo?

Following its 1920s NJ launch, the production of Yoo-hoo has changed hands a few times. About two decades after debuting, manufacturing had to move to a larger facility in South Carolina. Since then, it was acquired by companies including B.B.C. Industries, Iroquois Brands, some private investors, Pernod Richard, Cadbury Shweppes, and the Dr Pepper Snapple Group. Currently, it’s Keurig Dr. Pepper manufacturing the drink and keeping bottled chocolatey joy alive and well. 

About the Author

Hebba Gouda

Hebba Gouda is a freelance contributor to Sporked who will die on the hill that a hot dog is not a sandwich. She’s proud to spend weekends falling asleep at 9 p.m. listening to podcasts, always uses the Oxford comma, and has been described as “the only person who actually likes New Jersey.” She’d love to know how on earth she somehow always has dirty dishes, if donkeys hear better than horses, and how the heck you’re doing today? Hopefully swell - thanks for reading!

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