Biscuit and milk: why do they go so well together?

Why do cookies and milk go so well?DARIOGAONA/GETTY IMAGES
Even adults cannot deny this dietary fact: biscuits with milk are one of the best snacks. Whether it’s an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie or any other type of cookie (required) that your grandma would be proud of, the cookies and milk duo is a classic combination, not just for the sweet tooth, but for the moment. Pure nostalgia.

Why do milk and cookies taste good together?

Pour a chocolate chip cookie into a glass of milk and you’ll change its texture, taste, and chemical composition. As American University chemistry professor Matthew Harting explained to Quartz: It all comes down to a group of chemical additives called emulsifiers.

Here’s how it works. Some liquids do not naturally mix, the most common example being oil and water. We speak of an emulsion when one liquid is chemically forced to disperse in another. Oil does not settle on water: it is oil droplets that will be suspended in water. Compounds that allow this phenomenon are called emulsifiers. One end of this molecule likes oil and the other prefers water, allowing the two opposing liquids to coexist.

Chocolate and milk contain emulsifiers. Mix the fatty ingredients (oil and cocoa butter) in the chocolate with the low-fat ingredients (water and cocoa powder). They also prevent milk fat from building up at the top of your glass.

This delicious magic—or rather science—takes a new level when chocolate cookies are dipped in milk, as the emulsifiers of the two substances interact on the tongue. The milk moderates the strong sweetness of the chocolate, Harting says, and the emulsifiers “help the chocolate go smoother when you eat it,” providing the perfect ratio of cream to cookie flavor. Otherwise, the taste can be too grainy and crunchy.

Who invented the biscuit and milk duo?

Unfortunately, there is no clear answer to this question. However, we can trace the origins of this culinary habit. It is thought to have started with the Romans, who soaked small dry biscuits in wine to soften them. It is also believed to have been a popular custom among sailors in the 1500s. Sailors seem to have kept the cakes for a long time during long voyages, soaking them in coffee or brine to soften them before eating.

More recently, the popular Christmas tradition of leaving milk and cookies for St. Nicholas originated in the 1930s during the Great Depression. It was a way for parents to teach their children to show gratitude for gifts, even in difficult times.

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