Review: Crave Original Chocolate Milk & Strawberry Chocolate Milk


Crave Chocolate Milk is a self-stable brand of milk produced by Upstate Niagara Cooperative, a collection of dairy farmers in New York. Available in two flavors, Original Chocolate Milk and Strawberry Chocolate Milk, it seems positioned to try to change your perceptions of milk products.

Crave Original Chocolate Milk

I met Ken Voelker, Director of Marketing for Upstate Farms, at the recent National Restaurant Association show here in Chicago. He introduced me to Crave, which has a striking presence in 12 oz aluminum bottles. They call it their “Frost Flow Bottle” and note that it only takes 12 minutes to cool for optimum temperature. It’s also resealable, which is an advantage, especially because Crave’s flavors are quite rich and intense, meaning you might not be able to finish them in one sitting.

Crave Chocolate Milk

Let’s start with Crave Original Chocolate Milk, which comes in a silver aluminum bottle/can highlighted with brown accents. I am quite in love with the package design and brand positioning, to be honest. Very cool. You want to drink this stuff when you see it. When was the last time you said that about a bottle of milk? As I mentioned, the Crave products don’t require refrigeration until after opening, which like the Main St. Cafe Smoothies we recently reviewed, seem to be a trend in dairy products trying to find their way into more practical store shelf locations.

BevReview at the NRA Show

After refrigeration to cool it off, I shook the milk per the packaging instructions. Unscrewing the cap, you are greeted by a 1-inch wide opening that ventilates quite a strong chocolate milk scent. As a chocoholic, it put a smile on my face! The drink itself looks like you’d expect chocolate milk to look, but probably a tad bit thicker than the skim milk I’m used to drinking. Upon sipping, it coats your tongue and then surrounds it with a very bold chocolate flavor. The marketing materials use the word “intense,” but I think it’s more along the lines of, “wow, that’s chocolate-y!” It’s got a nice aftertaste as well, with some of the chocolate hanging around at the back of your throat. Overall, thumbs up on this flavor.

Crave Strawberry Chocolate Milk

Now let’s hop over to Crave Strawberry Chocolate Milk, which also comes in the same 12 oz silver aluminum can, but is accented by a bold red color and touches of brown. Crack open the cap and the hint of strawberry is hard to miss. The color is still mostly brown in nature, perhaps a tad bit brighter than the Original Chocolate flavor. I’d say the flavor is sweeter, with a nice, smooth blend of strawberry & cocoa together. I’m not a huge fan of strawberry flavor on its own, but when mixed with the chocolate, it’s quite amazing. Sweet, yet subtle, with a very pleasant scent. It’s hard to determine which of these two flavors I actually like better.

Ken Voelker with Upstate Farms / Crave Chocolate Milk
Ken Voelker of Upstate Farms serves up some samples

The big angle that Crave is aiming at is innovation, playing up the reuse and sustainability of their aluminum bottle. Add that to the pasteurization process they use to allow for room temperature storage and the bold flavor combinations, I’d say they’re on to something. Of course, the tradeoff seems to be on the nutrition side. Now, don’t get me wrong, you are still getting a product that is packed with calcium, Vitamin D, riboflavin, and other nutrients. But we’re also talking about a 12 oz beverage packed with 340 calories per serving. This is definitely a product that is more of a dessert rather than an accompaniment to a meal.

Let’s take a closer look at what’s inside:

Crave Original Chocolate Milk
Milk, sugar (sucrose), cocoa (processed with alkali), cellulose gel, natural flavor, cellulose gum, potassium hydroxide, mono & diglycerides, carrageenan, and Vitamin D3

A 12 oz bottle contains 340 calories, 12 g fat (7 g saturated fat), 40 mg cholesterol, 170 mg sodium, 800 mg potassium, 48 g carbohydrates (3 g dietary fiber, 44g sugars), and 12 g protein.

Crave Strawberry Chocolate Milk
Milk, sugar (sucrose), cocoa (processed with alkali), cellulose gel, natural chocolate-strawberry flavor, cellulose gum, potassium hydroxide, mono & diglycerides, carrageenan, and Vitamin D3

A 12 oz bottle contains 340 calories, 12 g fat (7 g saturated fat), 40 mg cholesterol, 170 mg sodium, 770 mg potassium, 49 g carbohydrates (3 g dietary fiber, 44g sugars), and 12 g protein.

Overall, these Crave Chocolate Milk flavors are pretty awesome. I love the packaging and story behind the brand, given that they are made by a dairy. But aside from the glitz, the product lives up to the hype with an outstanding taste. If you get a chance to try Crave, don’t pass it up. After all, when was the last time you had a really great chocolate milk?

Official Website: ICraveMilk.com

Full Disclosure: These beverages were provided compliments of Upstate Farms