Ovaltine VS Milo

When I was shopping at Shop N Save at Tampines Mart last week, I realised that the prices of almost all items have gone up tremendously. Even the 3-1 Milo pack (my children reminded me to replenish it) has gone up in price. This led me to compare the prices between Milo and Ovaltine (as I used to substitute Coke with Pepsi)…Ovaltine is cheaper by about 50cents and comes with a free premium game!

After I reached home, I started to think – Ovaltine or Milo, which is ‘older’? I mean which product was marketed first?

I remember when I was very young and staying with my Godmother’s family at Beatty Road, she used to make ‘O val tin Kar Dan’ (Cantonese) for me, which is breaking an raw egg into a cup of very hot Ovaltine. My first contact with Milo was maybe in mid Primary (probably Pri. 3 or 4), when I was told to draw a tin of Milo and color it with poster color. So I guess should be Ovaltine first then Milo….hehe.

Below shows the old Milo tin that I used to draw for my art lesson;

OK, let’s do some research;


Started in : 1865

Country of Origin : Switzerland but first manufactured in Britain

Meaning of Name Ovaltine : Oval means Egg

How It Started : In 1865, George Wander set up his own laboratory in Bern (Switzerland) . There he produced a malt extract which for decades was to provide a vital food supplement for children and sick people. When he died, his son Albert, a pharmacist and chemist, worked to improve the product, adding other natural energizing ingredients to the malt extract. In 1904, Ovaltine was born.

Invented by George Wander originally as “Ovo-Maltine” in Switzerland – a fortified barley powdered egg malted-milk beverage. His son’s Albert had it produced in Britain but the British spelt it wrongly and thus the name “Ovaltine”. It was later that cocoa was added to it and thus the current Ovaltine! Read more about it here.

Product : Sold as nourishing bedtime drink

Look at the billboard ad along New Bridge Road in the 60s;

Photo Credit above : singas.co.uk

How a 1921 Ovaltine tin looked like;

A 1961 Ovaltine ad;


Started in : 1934

Country of Origin : Australia

Meaning of Name Milo : Derived its name from MILON (600 BC), a champion athlete of ancient Greek mythology. He was renowned for his feats of strengths.

How It Started : Invented by Thomas Mayne, an industrial chemist working at a Nestlé factory in Australia. The product was launched in 1934.

Product : Sold as tonic food drink

Below shows an old advertisement in 1940 (Straits Times);

Credit : SPH, Straits Times

If you can’t see clearly how a 1940 Milo tin looked like, here it is in color (the top tin);

Credit : Nestle

Many uses of such Ovatine and Milo tins such as storing of money as ‘piggy bank’. The Milo tin was usually used as kinda ‘cash register’ in some old shops.

You can find this Milo tin hanging as a ‘cash register’ in this shop even in the 90s;

Photo Credit : National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

You may find Milo ads in most sports competition;

Credit : SPH, Straits Times

Below shows an Ovaltine signboard in a shop (1986);

Credit : National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

Now both Ovaltine and Milo have undergone many changes in packaging, product types and taste as well. It seems that Milo are more aggressive in advertising especially in the sports arena as you can see on the Milo tin itself. Did Ovaltine still comes in tin form now???

So which one do you prefer Ovaltine or Milo? My kids prefer Milo – don’t know why?


70 Responses to “Ovaltine VS Milo”

  1. 1 John Harper Tuesday, April 29, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    The MiLo that you get in Singapore is manufactured and packed in Malaysia in two factories depending on the pack size. One is in Petalling Jaya the other in Chembong. Both factories use a malt syrup manufactured in the Nestle factory at Jurong which is sent to the Malaysian factories in 40 gallon drums and used in the process of making the finished dry product. Here in the UK MiLo is almost impossible to find, I have only ever found it in the Nestle staff shops selling Nestle products at a discount to staff. Ovaltine though, is available freely. My own preference is for MiLo, I don’t think the malty flavour is as strong as in Ovaltine.

  2. 2 py Tuesday, April 29, 2008 at 11:44 pm

    Thank you for this post. I like the part on how Ovaltine and Milo had originated.

    I remember drinking Ovaltine when I was younger. Somehow, I can’t remember how Ovaltine tastes like. One thing is that it is more accessible to find Milo canned drinks and Milo packet-drinks in vending machines, hawker centres and grocery stores than Ovaltine.

    Furthermore, I remember fondly during my JC days and university days, whenever there were major events (e.g. sports day, bazaar), there will be free Milo. It helps people to remember the taste of Milo over that of Ovaltine. And I must say, those free Milo are great! I can’t seem to be able to make such good milo drinks on my own. So my answer is I prefer Milo because I can’t remember how Ovaltine tastes like!

    I didn’t know that ovaltine is more freely available in UK until I’ve read John Harper’s comments.

  3. 3 Victor Koo Thursday, May 1, 2008 at 12:06 am

    I prefer Horlicks, hehe. (There’s a photo of it next to the Ovaltine signboard in your last photo.)

    Okay, maybe you are comparing “chocolaty” drinks only or you are comparing those that came in similar cyclindrical tin cans. In contrast, old Horlicks came in a glass bottle. After we finished the contents, we recycled the large glass bottle as an aquarium or as a fighting arena for fighting fishes. It was only much later that Horlicks also came in a cyclindrical tin can similar to those of Milo and Ovaltine.

    I find that both Ovaltine and Milo taste the same. I may have difficulty differentiating them in a blind taste test.

    Incidentally, if you want to order a cup of Milo from a local coffeeshop, you can say “tuck kew”. (You should pronounce the consonants properly, for obvious reasons). It is Hokkien for “kick ball”. The reason is that the Milo tin used to have (still has?) a picture of a man kicking a football.

  4. 4 seenthisscenethat Thursday, May 1, 2008 at 12:08 pm

    Hi, I like your research and reflection in the local history of Singapore in your blog. Well done!

    As to the Ovaltine and Milo debate, my tastebuds want me to answer Ovaltine, while my fingers prefer to pick up Milo due to its strong presence at the nearest store. My kids have grown used to Milo too.

  5. 5 Lam Chun See Thursday, May 1, 2008 at 8:28 pm

    My children too prefer Milo but I prefer Ovaltine. But favourite when young was Horlicks. But couldn’t afford until later becos it was more expensive.

    I used to buy Milo whenever I drive to Malaysia for my biz trips. But my family says theirs tasted a different from the ones in Spore. They say those in Spore are imported from Australia whereas those in Msia were produced locally. That was some years back.

  6. 6 Lam Chun See Thursday, May 1, 2008 at 9:49 pm

    Do you know what is Dinosaur. It is an invention of the present gereration. It is a glass of cold fresh milk with Milo powder added to the top.

  7. 7 profkingsfield2004 Saturday, May 3, 2008 at 5:17 am

    Lao, now u mention about putting raw eggs into the drink, it reminds me about me when I was young. I am not sure whether it was a practice or because egg was a precious commodity then, I had to consume 2 raw eggs each morning before I went to school (first with MILO and then HORLICKS) and in the days when I came under my father’s coaching to be a sprinter. Can u imagine I threw up after each workout session and the remnants were “eggs”?

    Unlike today when a child celebrates his/her birthday with a cake or a party, my “birthday cake” in the 1950s was one raw egg placed on top of a plate of white rice. The raw egg was seasoned with a black soya sauce.

  8. 8 profkingsfield2004 Saturday, May 3, 2008 at 5:36 am

    lao, you should blog about RIBENA drink…..there was an advertisement about 2 small kids sitting under a treeee. the girl asked the boy for a drink and the boys replied. “Not so much” Today’s children dont drink that anymore.

  9. 9 profkingsfield2004 Saturday, May 3, 2008 at 5:37 am

    lao, you should blog about RIBENA drink…..there was an advertisement about 2 small kids sitting under a tree. The girl asked the boy for a drink and the boys replied. “Not so much” Today’s children dont drink that anymore. Wonder what is their preference?

  10. 10 profkingsfield2004 Saturday, May 3, 2008 at 6:05 pm

    what do u call this drink when Cheng Chow is mixed with Soya Bean drink? I heard this is a recent drink craze.

  11. 11 profkingsfield2004 Saturday, May 3, 2008 at 6:07 pm

    There is a new drink. Seems a hit with teenagers. It is Cheng Chow mixed with Tau Fa Sui.

  12. 12 laokokok Monday, May 5, 2008 at 7:01 am

    Hi John,
    I’m surprised that in UK it’s difficult to find Milo. Probably because of that, you have such a knowledge of Milo.

    Hi PY,
    Even now in some major events, Milo still sponsor free drinks. Ovaltine – so far have yet to see them in those events that I’m around haha.

    ‘Tuck Kiew’ – you are right Victor! Thanks for bringing this up on another local version of ordering Milo in the food centre or kopi tiam.

    Hi Seenthisscenethat,
    Welcome here. I like your blog too!

    Hi Chun See,
    Horlicks still taste good but somehow don’t know why my kids don’t favour it. That Milo Dinosaur not cheap too!

    Wah Peter, at the rate you are eating raw eggs….what about your cholesterol level? Mine already high.

  13. 13 Victor Koo Monday, May 5, 2008 at 10:36 pm

    Anybody remembers Lacovo (乐口福)? I think it is produced in China and is still available in that country today. It came in a can with yellow and red colours separated by a V-line. Somehow this drink didn’t catch on in Singapore.

    In contrast, there is also the upmarket version called Van Houten which is produced in Europe.

    (I am hoping that LKK’s spam control for this blog will not throw out my comments again because of the html links I provided.)

  14. 14 Victor Koo Monday, May 5, 2008 at 10:38 pm

    (Oops, looks like my worst fears came true – LKK’s spam control for this blog DID treat my comments as spam because of the html links I provided here. So am sending it one more time.)

    Anybody remembers Lacovo (乐口福)? I think it is produced in China and is still available in that country today. It came in a can with yellow and red colours separated by a V-line. Somehow this drink didn’t catch on in Singapore.

    In contrast, there is also the upmarket version called Van Houten which is produced in Europe.

  15. 15 Victor Koo Monday, May 5, 2008 at 10:48 pm

    (Oops, this blog’s very powerful spam control is preventing me from posting relevant html links in my comments again.)

    There were 2 more chocolaty drinks that were popular in the 1960s-70s.

    Anybody remembers Lacovo (乐口福)? I think it was produced in China (and is still available there). It came in a can that has yellow and red colours separated by s V-shaped line. Somehow, this drink didn’t catch on in Singapore.

    Then there was the more upmarket Van Houten which was made in Europe. (Anybody knows whether this brand is still sold here?)

    The links are here:



  16. 16 Koo Victor Monday, May 5, 2008 at 10:52 pm

    (Sorry, trying for the last time without posting any html links in my comments this time.)

    There were 2 more chocolaty drinks that were popular in the 1960s-70s.

    Anybody remembers Lacovo (乐口福)? I think it was produced in China (and is still available there). It came in a can that has yellow and red colours separated by s V-shaped line. Somehow, this drink didn’t catch on in Singapore.

    Then there was the more upmarket Van Houten which was made in Europe. (Anybody knows whether this brand is still sold here?)

  17. 17 laokokok Tuesday, May 6, 2008 at 7:07 am

    Victor, the first one Lacovo I’m not sure but Van Houten is still available especially at those shop selling bakery items.

  18. 18 passerby Tuesday, May 6, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    Van Houten drinking chocolate is still widely available in supermarkets, even NTUC Fairprice. It’s sugarless though, and a bit more troublesome to make than the Cadbury’s Drinking Chocolate which has sugar already added. Or are you saying that Van Houten used to make a drink powder like Horlicks etc?

    Personally I love Milo though, I have to thank those Milo vans at school events although they’re a little too sweet sometimes (if anything, the Milo vans are the reason WHY I went for school events)

  19. 19 laokokok Friday, May 9, 2008 at 7:12 am

    Hi Victor,
    Sorry about the Spam control. I’ve changed it to 5 links for Spam now.

  20. 20 Timothy Friday, May 9, 2008 at 11:38 pm

    I remember in the 80s when i was a kid, Ovaltine seems more to be the dominant brand. But comes 90s and the new millinieum, Milo seems more of the dominant brand

    The Ovaltine we have here are made in Thailand while I believe the Milo are made in Malaysia. However when i was staying in Hong Kong, I notice that the Milo is the more dominant brand and it is made in Shanghai. I hardly am able to find Ovaltine there.

  21. 21 peek-a-boo Thursday, May 15, 2008 at 6:49 am

    I prefered Milo and sneaked into the cupboard to eat spoonfuls of it ‘dry’.I loved the taste of it as it melted in my mouth.Milo seemed milkier and Ovaltine a bit dry.But I have to admit I prefered Horlicks to all other beverages.

  22. 22 clara Sunday, May 25, 2008 at 10:08 pm

    Hi! I love your blog man. This is way better than history class in school.

    I love milo before they changed the formula to Milo Fuze. Now you can no longer find the original Milo formula in Singapore. Very sad. I actually emailed Nestle about it and they replied saying ‘Thank you for your feedback’.

    But! I love Ovaltine sweets. the flat round ones.

  23. 23 laokokok Tuesday, May 27, 2008 at 9:47 am

    Thanks dara for your comments and dropping by here. I don’t quite like the taste of Milo Fuze.

  24. 24 sgporc Wednesday, June 4, 2008 at 2:23 am

    when I was a kid, visits to my grandma’s home would normally include a treat of a slice of bread, coated with a thick layer of condensed milk, and topped with heap spoonfuls of ovaltine… decadent but greeeaattt!!!

  25. 25 Tisu Girl Friday, June 6, 2008 at 11:08 am

    Oh, the other day we were still talking about how come no one drinks Ovaltine anymore. Was thinking about blogging about it but you beat me first! Hahah…Personally, I dun think I can tell the difference, unless I have both drink side by side to compare. Just like Coke and Pepsi…But Milo does seem to be more easily available.

  26. 26 Lacovo Girl Saturday, August 30, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    Yes I do remember Lacovo, as a child I grew up with the brand in Indonesia. It was so good and I used to eat it just like that without mixing it with water or milk. It was and still remains my most favorite powder drink. I’ve been trying to find that brand all my grown up life, but seems hopeless. If anybody knows where to get this brand, please let me know.

  27. 27 Fabian Fidelis Sunday, September 7, 2008 at 8:56 am

    I have kidney failure and suffer from gout. The moment I take a MILO, gout flares up. But have been drinking Ovaltine by the gallons and no issues. Ovaltine rocks! Its perhaps due to the more milder stuff they put inside!

    Keep rocking Ovaltine.

  28. 28 laokokok Wednesday, September 17, 2008 at 8:51 am

    I’m not aware of that Fabian, thanks.

  29. 29 blobber Thursday, December 25, 2008 at 2:04 am

    nostalgia has always made me prefer ovaltine over milo until i read the labels… and realized that ovaltine had modified palm oil listed… anyone know whether this modified oil is of the harmful type?

  30. 30 Ovaltine loves :) Wednesday, April 14, 2010 at 10:53 am

    Guess what.. Ovaltine is part of the nestle family….

  31. 31 iaryylr Friday, May 14, 2010 at 9:03 pm

    Saya suka ovaltine dari milo!

  32. 32 kittenita Thursday, December 16, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    What a fantastic blog & blog post! I’m so happy to have found your blog – will go through your other posts now. *fan*

    Was brought up with Horlicks, Ovamaltine, Nesquick, Van Houten… So no particular preference although I remember spoon feeding myself dry Milo and letting it melt in my mouth like some kind of candy. Very useful information and well done on the research!


  33. 33 Lucia Monday, August 8, 2011 at 1:47 am


    Compare to Milo, Ovaltine is way more popular in Hong Kong, coz you can order it in Local Restaurant (cha chann tengs), while you can’t do the same as Milo.

    Lucia (from HK)

  34. 34 Azman Hashim Wednesday, August 17, 2011 at 5:58 am

    Very good info,

  35. 35 Geoffrey Low Wednesday, August 29, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    How about horlick? If there is a choice, i would prefer horlick than the other 2

  36. 36 Rachel Tuesday, March 5, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    Just published a taste test comparison on my blog. Here in Thailand Milo is more popular but, after trying both, I prefer Ovaltine. Seems smoother, more chocolatey and definitely more malt-tasting to me 🙂

    Funny, I grew up with Horlicks and Ovaltine in the UK and had no idea it was so popular in Asia at the same time 🙂

  37. 37 lek Tuesday, May 28, 2013 at 1:21 am

    Ovaltine is way ahead of Milo in Thailand.

  38. 38 chiza Wednesday, June 5, 2013 at 9:35 pm

    yea ovaltine still comes in tin n very large size or a small 1 lyk d old 1 here in nigeria and i prefer ovalyltine dnt knw y buh wen i was a kid i luvd milo more

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  41. 41 Pachomius Susmariosep Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 5:46 am

    The study is more useful to busy people who do take both Milo and Ovaltine regularly like myself, IF it just tells us at the end of the study:

    (i) what ingredients of Milo and Ovaltine which are nutritious to our body and mind are really absorbed by our physiology,

    (ii) what ingredients are just useless but not harmful,

    (iii) what ingredients are harmful and why and how harmful,

    so that ordinary people like myself busy but concerned about getting a genuinely wholesome nutritious drink can guide ourselves accordingly: whether to buy Milo and Ovaltine and contribute to the money profit of the owners of Milo and Ovaltine, or not.

    So, please author of the study, do a supplement of your study and email me, mdejess(@)gmail.com.

    Marius de Jess

    PS I think I must have already contributed a similar comment here or somewhere like your blog, but you have not done anything to enlighten your readers in this regard.

  42. 42 Ovaltine is best! Tuesday, September 10, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    No, Ovaltine is not owned by Nestle. It is owned by Associated British Foods.

  43. 43 Ovaltine is best! Tuesday, September 10, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    Ovaltine has a much higher content of malt extract which is very healthy for you. Nestle have substituted tapioca starch into the Milo recipe which isn’t nearly as good.

  44. 44 Brenda Gaba Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 2:42 am

    Do you know where I can find Ovaltine in Beijing? My son is attending school at Beijing Normal University and is homesick for Ovaltine.

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    has helped me out loads. I am hoping to contribute & assist other customers like its aided me.
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  46. 46 pallawa Wednesday, December 4, 2013 at 7:51 am

    gosh i’m 33 and still fall in love with ovaltine, drinking it 2-3 cups everyday

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  48. 48 Henry Lee Wednesday, June 4, 2014 at 11:08 pm

    Nowadays Ovaltine is like not well liked anymore, everybody orders Milo whenever I am in a coffeeshop……

  49. 49 Akhi Chanchar Sunday, August 10, 2014 at 12:24 am

    In my opinion both drinks are great for helping you sleep and also as a good morning start. In my opinion Milo is better because it tastes good Hot and Cold. Ovaltine only tastes good Hot to me. I will buy both drinks though, especially when ovaltine is cheaper

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  54. 54 Simon Chan Monday, October 31, 2016 at 12:13 pm

    I strongly believe that Milo have beaten Ovaltine not because Milo tasted better, its because of Marketing Strategy. First they popularised it through advance advertisement, sponsored numerous sports event, human touch like reaching out to school to give free drinks to school children. Tied up yo sporting events, promoting it to rural areas through house to house in the early days.They conquer the entire nation. Until today. They still have not not advetise even though it is already a household name.

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  56. 59 Derek Friday, October 27, 2017 at 8:44 pm

    Ovaltine was the drink of the 50s to present day and beyond. A great nutritional drink full of vitamins, minerals, malt, milk, egg and cocoa for health, strength and vitality. Ovaltine dominates in HK and China. The man who build up Ovaltine in Singapore, Malaysia and the Far East from the 50s till his retirement after 32 years of loyal service was Ee Soon Howe. A humble man who walks with Jesus and from whom his wisdom comes from. My family have been drinking Ovaltine or Cool Ovo from time immemorial.

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