Why Milk Was Chosen As North Carolina's Official State Beverage

Milk in a glass
Milk in a glass - Alvarez/Getty Images

Everyone knows that milk does a body good, but some states in the U.S. have really bought into that philosophy. This includes North Carolina, which named this beloved dairy the official state beverage in 1987. That's right, Cheerwine and Pepsi lovers, the cows won this one. To be fair, when this legislation was approved, the Tar Heel state was producing a lot of milk — 179 million gallons a year — and the state Milk Commission successfully lobbied for this special designation. In fact, North Carolina is among 22 states that have anointed milk as its official beverage.

Before you start throwing shade toward those milk cartons, know that the dairy industry is an important part of North Carolina's economy. The state produces around 900 million pounds of this stuff every year. With 140 dairy farms and a total of approximately 40,000 cows being milked on them, North Carolinians make $3.5 million from gainful employment in the dairy industry, which the USDA notes contributes over $12 billion annually to the state's economy overall. That's pretty substantial, and making milk the state beverage seems like a good way to honor those hard-working cows and their contributions.

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The Great Compromise

Woman holding soda and milk
Woman holding soda and milk - ViDI Studio/Shutterstock

Not everyone in North Carolina is on board with milk holding this coveted title, and it's not just the lactose intolerant who have voiced their dismay. Some state residents have some strong feelings about what the state drink should be and point to favorites like Cheerwine and Pepsi (which both originated in the state) along with sweet tea as more logical choices. However, when you got milk, which North Carolina clearly does with all those cows, perhaps making it the state beverage is their way of broadcasting it to the rest of the country.

But, maybe there's a great compromise to be had between milk lovers and those other North Carolina beverages. If you like milk and are a fan of the likes of Cheerwine or Pepsi, grab a page from Laverne from the iconic 1970s show "Laverne & Shirley" and mix those two bad boy beverages together for something creamy and sweet. Additionally, sweet tea and milk can be combined into an incredible ice cream.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.