THE MILKY NAME is one of the most highly recognized brand names in Israel. Over 6,000,000 Milky products are sold each month (representing almost 1 for each citizen of Israel). Not that familiar with Milky? You’re in luck. Forthwith: A Milky Primer.
Milky, manufactured by the Strauss food company, is the brand name for a score of dessert puddings. The name itself is most closely associated with the classic Milky flavor: chocolate. Milky chocolate comes in a 170 ml. (a little under 6 ounces) plastic container, the top third being vanilla whipped cream and the bottom two-thirds consisting of chocolate pudding (fat content: 6.5%). Milky’s ordinarily come in packs of 6, but it is your right to separate them and purchase the amount you want (each one costs about 85 cents; there is no discount for buying the whole pack—although psychologically the Strauss people know that you will feel like a big shot if you do). Snapping the Milky’s apart at home is an important aspect of Milky tradition, since anyone may use this seemingly harmless though surprisingly noisy sound to persecute members of their family.
Besides chocolate, there are many other Milky products, and Strauss is always releasing new ones. Here is a sample list of Milky’s (all come with vanilla whipped cream, except as noted: butterscotch pudding; chocolate kiss (chocolate whipped cream and chocolate pudding); nutty pudding; double cream (two-thirds whipped cream), spiral of vanilla and chocolate pudding, spiral of chocolate and nutty pudding, Milky light (4.5% fat), “mocachino” (coffee whipped cream and chocolate pudding); upside-down Milky (chocolate whipped cream and vanilla pudding), Italian Caramel (which is basically flan), and strawberry.[Important aside: Please do not think that with this column I will have exhausted the subject of dessert puddings in Israel. Dani, Badi, and Carlo brand puddings all compete with Milky.]
There are two basic ways to eat the classic chocolate Milky. Typically, people are extremely attached to their own way and think poorly about a person from the opposing side. I happen to believe that there is only one rational way to eat a chocolate Milky: you take your spoon, you spear it through the whipped-cream layer until it nestles at the bottom of the chocolate layer, and then you carefully raise the spoon so that it takes in just the right mixture of chocolate pudding and whipped cream. My friend Gil is part of the enemy camp. These people just take life as it is. They think: if when you open a Milky and you only see whipped cream, well by golly that’s all that you are supposed to eat at that time. When the good people at Strauss want you to eat chocolate pudding, they will end your layer of whipped cream and make the pudding available to you.
All Milky’s come with expiration dates on them, generally two weeks after purchase. While Milky’s are not usually around long enough in your refrigerator to actually spoil, the older a Milky gets, the more the pudding portion starts to congeal and the more the topping loses its whip. A fresh Milky is light and creamy and leaves you wanting more, and indeed some Israelis will occasionally eat several Milky’s at the same sitting. While I have never allowed myself to go wild and crazy and eat more than one Milky at a time, I do feel that it is sort of my patriotic duty to buy Milky. After all, how else is Strauss going to maintain those numbers?
Teddy Weinberger, Ph.D., is Director of Development for a consulting company called Meaningful. He made aliyah with his family in 1997 from Miami, where he was an assistant professor of religious studies. Teddy and his wife, Sarah Jane Ross, have five children.