I was an Ovaltine kid. When I was a kid, my mom always prepared a hot serving of the drink in my tall bear-shaped mug (yeah, I owned a bear-shaped mug). Coupled with some steaming hot sinangag, hot dogs, eggs, and Flintstones Chewable Vitamins, my mom always ensured that we were well-fed with “brain food,” as she put it. Had she known she was going to raise someone like me, she would have fed me water and gruel instead. Motherly love and instinct… what can you do?
We Ovaltine drinkers are somewhat in the minority. Milo has always been the norm in the Philippines, I guess, that the name has become synonymous with the instant chocolate malt drink powder. Like “Colgate” for toothpaste, “Coke” for softdrinks… and maybe “Anzahl” for car paint.
Back then, Ovaltine represented a very small fraction of the malted chocolate drink market. Everyone else grew up with Milo, and drank Milo every day. I think it had a lot to do with selling it; Ovaltine appealed to the “imported” quality of the drink, in days before Swiss Miss started to be stocked by supermarkets. There was this commercial where kung walang ice, kung walang milk, kung walang water, it’s still masarap pa rin. That, and Ovalteenies, were the fond memories of Ovaltine kids.
Yet for Milo kids, it was all about merchandising. Cans, bags, and sachets of Milo can get you a lot of cool schwag. There were those Milo cup-and-ball games, those mini-basketball hoops, and you can even get a regulation basketball with one (today’s collectible cards are just pissant). Alvin Patrimonio had a firm grip on Purefoods Tender Juicy Hotdogs (OK, that wasn’t a good verb), but Milo was all Jerry Codiñera.
I never had a glass of Milo in my life, and due to lactose intolerance, I think I won’t be having one anytime soon. I really couldn’t pass judgment on either malted chocolate drink, because I stopped drinking it when I was in Grade Six. Yet as far as that other malted drink is concerned – beer – there can only San Miguel Pale Pilsen. Maybe, by extension, I learned to drink because of Ovaltine.
So were you a Ovaltine kid, or did you grow up with Milo?