Taste-testing milk alternatives.

How to be the best consumer you can be.
Nov. 4 2003 11:54 AM

Got Lactaid?

Taste-testing milk alternatives.

(Continued from Page 1)

Rice Dream: Dream on. $3.29.
Average Score: 4.0
While this drink looks and smells like the real thing, it isn't. The consistency is superthin, ("white-colored water") and the taste is superpeculiar: "oaty, but not" and "plasticky" are among the attempts to describe its distinct—and distinctly nondairy—flavor.

Dunkability: "It just makes the cookie wet."

Advertisement

Organic Valley Lactose-Free: Tasty heights. $3.69.
Average Score: 7.4
It may not have any lactose, but it's still definitely milk. As one grateful panelist put it: "This doesn't taste like a vegetable at all!" The color, smell, and aftertaste are all milktacular, and though one panelist found it "a little too close to butter," another noted a "sweetness that I like." (Lactose-free milk is made by adding lactase enzymes to regular cow milk, which breaks lactose, a complex sugar, into two more-easily digested simple sugars. As such, people often comment that lactose-free milk is sweeter than regular milk, though it contains no added sugar. Note: Lactose-free milks often contain casein and/or whey, so the truly allergic should steer clear; it is also as likely to come from growth-hormone-injected cows as standard milk)

Dunkability: "Fits like a glove."

Milk: Ain't nothing like the real thing, baby. $2.19.
Average Rank: 7.8
Real milk—from a cow!—is greeted by the panel with relieved euphoria, though one panelist analogizes: "I can tell this is real milk, but after drinking soy and Lactaid for many years, it feels slightly off, like hooking up with your girlfriend's sister." Still, panelists rave: "This really hit the spot" and "Welcome home!"

Dunkability: "This is what dunking is about!"

Lactaid: Even better than the real thing. $1.99.
Average Rank: 8.4
Lactose-free Lactaid surprisingly outscored normal milk to take the crown. The color's "sort of green, looks a bit radioactive" but the taste is "thirst-quenching." Though panelists are divided on the sweetness—one found it "not too sweet," and another found it "a little too sweet"—its stratospheric score says it all. Two panelists put it simply and identically: "This one tastes the best." (It was the cheapest, too!)

Dunkability: "A good dunk. Adheres nicely to the cookie."

Conclusion: The nonmilk products didn't taste like milk, and they didn't taste good. Soy milk looks like eggnog and unfortunately tastes like what it is—soy juice. Rice milk gets the color right, but the consistency is too watery and the flavor is just plain bizarre. The soys' dismal showing surprised me because I know from experience that soy milk mixes nicely with other flavors. I'm personally a fan of chocolate soy milk, and if you substitute soy for dairy in a Starbucks drink, you'll barely notice the difference. Yet taken straight, "milk-flavored" soys were awful—and they fared poorly on the cookie-dunking test.

As for our winner, lactose-free milk can taste a bit sweeter than the normal stuff. (The taste varies among brands.) Some people prefer its sweetness, and others don't, but in the end, the difference is marginal: This is milk, and you can tell. In the end, milk substitutes are no substitute at all. Our findings are definitely discouraging for those who are allergic to milk and for anyone thinking about hopping on the dairy-free bandwagon—but, as they say, that's how the cookie crumbles.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Don’t Worry, Obama Isn’t Sending U.S. Troops to Fight ISIS

But the next president might. 

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.

How Much Should You Loathe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell?

Here are the facts.

Altered State

The Plight of the Pre-Legalization Marijuana Offender

What should happen to weed users and dealers busted before the stuff was legal?

Surprise! The Women Hired to Fix the NFL Think the NFL Is Just Great.

You Shouldn’t Spank Anyone but Your Consensual Sex Partner

Moneybox
Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM The Most Awkward Scenario in Which a Man Can Hold a Door for a Woman
  News & Politics
Altered State
Sept. 17 2014 11:51 PM The Plight of the Pre-Legalization Marijuana Offender What should happen to weed users and dealers busted before the stuff was legal?
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
  Life
Outward
Sept. 17 2014 6:53 PM LGBTQ Luminaries Honored With MacArthur “Genius” Fellowships
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 17 2014 6:14 PM Today in Gender Gaps: Biking
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 17 2014 8:25 PM A New Song and Music Video From Angel Olsen, Indie’s Next Big Thing
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 9:00 PM Amazon Is Now a Gadget Company
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 17 2014 11:48 PM Spanking Is Great for Sex Which is why it’s grotesque for parenting.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 17 2014 3:51 PM NFL Jerk Watch: Roger Goodell How much should you loathe the pro football commissioner?