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Horlicks Malt Milk was the first dried milk food successfully marketed throughout the world. It was first patented in 1883.

The personal bit
Horlicks was the comfort drink of my childhood and I still turn to it when I feel I need a virtual hug. It's made by mixing the powder with hot milk(but can be made up with cold milk and a lot of very vigorous stirring) and is great when you feel hungry but can't be bothered to eat.

When I was a child in the 60s it was readily available in coffee bars and cafés, and came steaming and frothy in a custom made Horlicks mug with no hole in the handle to put one's chilly little fingers through. This made it rather tricky to drink, and there was always a risk of spilling it, (isn't there always when you're 5 or 6?)but it was worth it. I considered myself very lucky if the powder hadn't been mixed into the milk thoroughly because it used to form toffee-like globs which floated on a sea of white foam. These could be skimmed off and chewed; in fact they used to get stuck in your teeth and remain there for ages. As I type this I am drinking the newer 'instant' Horlicks (developed in 1982), made by adding hot water instead of milk, and to my chagrin the undissolved globules sink to the bottom making a rather slimy mess.

The factual bit
The founders, James Horlicks (b.1844) , a qualified pharmacist, and his brother William (b.1846), first set out to produce an artificial infant food. The first product, Horlicks Food, was made from wheat and barley and had to be mixed with sterile milk. It was a very successful launch, due in the main to James' credentials, since he was able to promote it to the pharmaceutical and medical professions.

The next step then was to add milk to the process. William developed a malted milk powder made from malted barley, wheat and milk mashed together then dried under vacuum. The result was a 'food' powder which could be added to boiled water thus being safe for consumption by infants and invalids.

Horlicks became famous for being a healthy convenience food. It was included amongst the provisions taken by Roald Amundsen and Robert Falcon Scott on their Antarctic expeditions in 1910. World War One saw extensive use of this nutritional drink at home and at the Front, and in 1933 and 1935 when Rear Admiral Richard Byrd explored the Antarctic he named a range of mountains The Horlicks Mountains.

In the 1930s Horlicks was actively promoted as a bedtime nightcap drink, essential for a good night's rest and to stave off the effects of 'night starvation'. The 80s saw the introduction of chocolate and chocolate malt flavours, as well as the instant variety (not a patch on the original IMHO), and in the 90s it was advertised as being a good day-time stress reliever.

Over 42 million lbs of Horlicks is made in the UK each year.


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