Ovaltine (Ovomaltine)
Ovaltine jar and cup, both in the distinctive orange colour
TypeChoco milk drink
ManufacturerAssociated British Foods or licensees
(Nestlé in the United States)
Country of origin Switzerland
Introduced1904; 120 years ago (1904)
VariantsChocolate Malt, Malt, Rich Chocolate
Related products
WebsiteOfficial website Edit this at Wikidata (in German, French, and Italian)

Ovaltine (also known by its original name Ovomaltine) is a brand of milk flavoring product made with malt extract (blue packaging in the United States), sugar (except in Switzerland), and whey. Some flavors also have cocoa. Ovaltine, a registered trademark of Associated British Foods, is made by Wander AG, a subsidiary of Twinings, which acquired the brand from Novartis in 2002,[1] except in the United States, where Nestlé acquired the rights separately from Novartis in the late 2000s.


Swiss chemist and pharmacist Albert Wander (1867–1950) developed Ovomaltine in 1904.

Ovaltine was developed in 1904 by chemist Albert Wander [de] (1867–1950),[2] in Bern, Switzerland, where it is also known by its original name, Ovomaltine (from ovum, Latin for "egg", and malt, which were originally its key ingredients). In 1927, the factory moved out to the village of Neuenegg, a short distance west of Bern, where it is still produced.[3]

Ovomaltine was exported to Britain as Ovaltine in 1909. A factory was built in Kings Langley, which took it to the United States as well. By 1915, Ovaltine was being manufactured in Villa Park, Illinois, for the US market. Ovaltine was later manufactured in Peterborough, Ontario, for distribution in Canada. Gerald Ethelbert Goldsmith was the president of the Ovaltine Foods at this time.[4][5] In 1943, Ovaltine opened its second-largest factory in Devonport, Tasmania, to facilitate the demands of the Australasian and Southeast Asian markets.[6][7]

Ovaltine advertisement in an American medical journal, 1917

Originally advertised as consisting solely of "malt, milk, eggs, flavoured with cocoa", the formulation has changed over the decades, and today several formulations are sold in different parts of the world. In India[8] and the UK, it no longer contains eggs.[9]

Ovaltine in crystalline form

A chocolate malt version is sold as a powder which is mixed with hot or cold milk as a beverage. Malt Ovaltine (a version without cocoa) and Rich Chocolate Ovaltine (a version without malt) are also available in some markets. Ovaltine has also been available in the form of chocolate bars, chocolate Easter eggs, parfait, cookies, and breakfast cereals.[10]

Ovaltine also manufactured PDQ Chocolate Flavor Beads, PDQ Choco Chips, Eggnog Flavored PDQ, and Strawberry PDQ which are no longer available. These drink mixes enjoyed their greatest popularity from the 1960s to the 1980s.[11][12][13]

Villa Park, Illinois, was home to the Ovaltine factory in the United States from 1917 until the company's purchase and withdrawal in 1988. The Villa Park Historical Society maintains a permanent exhibit of Ovaltine advertising and memorabilia. The old factory was converted to loft apartments keeping the original floors and wall exposed, and is known today as Ovaltine Court.[14]


In 1992, Himmel Group obtained the right to make and sell Ovaltine in the US from Sandoz Nutrition Corporation. In 2002, Himmel sold their rights to Novartis. As of 2007, Nestlé had acquired Novartis' medical nutrition division and has the rights to Ovaltine.[15][16]

International appeal

The listed art deco façade of the former Ovaltine factory, Kings Langley. The building was redeveloped into housing in 2002.

Ovaltine was very popular in Britain, and was manufactured at Kings Langley in Hertfordshire using a process that included GEA Wiegand falling film evaporators to concentrate liquid malt extract, which was then dried under vacuum in steam heated band dryers. The art deco style Ovaltine factory in Kings Langley is a well-known local landmark. Production ceased in 2002 and the factory has now been redeveloped as luxury flats. Near the factory was a health farm run by the Ovaltine works, which was set up as a model farm and a health resort for disadvantaged children, which operated until the 1960s. Later, the farm land was sold and is now largely occupied by the M25 motorway. The Ovaltine Egg Farm is now the site of Renewable Energy Systems Ltd.[17]

Ovaltine also produces various chocolate products, such as the Ovolino bar.

In October 2002, the food and drinks division of Novartis, the maker of Ovaltine, was bought by Associated British Foods.[18] ABF currently produces Ovaltine in Switzerland, China, Thailand and Australia. In Canada, Ovaltine is produced by Grace Foods in biscuit and powdered drink forms. In the United States Nestlé manufactures Ovaltine.[19]

In Hong Kong, Ovaltine, like Horlicks, is known as a café drink. It is served at cha chaan tengs as well as fast-food shops such as Café de Coral and Maxim's Express. It is served hot, or on ice as a cold drink. In Brazil, it is commonly mixed with vanilla ice cream. In the Asian market, it is a chocolate ice cream flavoured with Ovaltine powder. The Ovomaltine brand is highly recognizable in Switzerland, and the brand is associated with skiing and snowboarding. The McCafé in Hong Kong provides "Ovaltine Crunchy Latte" and other drinks and desserts.[20]

In Malaysia, Ovaltine has lost its popularity to Milo. Ovaltine is sold in Tetra Pak cartons for cold serving and is widely available in shops and supermarkets, yet it has a low profile compared to similar beverages in the market. In Japan, Ovaltine was sold for a short period in the late 1970s by Calpis Industries (presently Calpis Co., Ltd.), but it was not a commercial success. In Australia, Ovalteenies are sold as round tablets of compressed Ovaltine, eaten as candy.[21]

Brazilian fast-food chain Bob's, the largest competitor to McDonald's in that country, offered, since 1959, milkshakes and sundaes made with Ovaltine, where it goes by the name of "Ovomaltine", which became a flagship product of the fast-food chain in Brazil. In 2016, McDonald's acquired exclusive rights to sell "Ovomaltine"-branded milkshakes. Brazil has the second largest Ovaltine factory, in São Paulo, and is the second largest consumer market for the product, after Thailand. The Brazilian Ovaltine differs from other varieties, originating from an assembly line malfunction that made the powder crispier that is still maintained today.[22]

In 2011, Ovaltine was banned in Denmark under legislation forbidding the sale of food products with added vitamins unless claims about their effectiveness are proven.[23]

Ovaltine cup manufactured exclusively for the Wander Company, makers of Ovaltine

In popular culture

The US children's radio series Little Orphan Annie (1931–1940) and Captain Midnight (1938–1949), and the subsequent Captain Midnight TV series (1954–1956) were sponsored by Ovaltine. They had promotions in which listeners could save proofs-of-purchase from Ovaltine jars to obtain radio premiums, such as "secret decoder ring" badges, or pins that could be used to decode messages in the program.[24]

In the movie Young Frankenstein, Ovaltine is mentioned when Frau Blücher, played by actress Cloris Leachman, asks Dr. Frederick Frankenstein, played by actor Gene Wilder, if he wants some Ovaltine, after he had already declined an offer of brandy, and then a warm milk before going to bed.[25]

In the movie A Christmas Story, Ovaltine is mentioned when Ralphie, played by actor Peter Billingsley, solves a cryptogram puzzle from a secret message by the popular radio show Little Orphan Annie.[26]

Another radio program aimed at five- to fourteen-year-olds, The League of Ovaltineys, was broadcast to Great Britain by Radio Luxembourg on Sunday evenings at 5:30 PM. Beginning in February 1935, it was broadcast until September 1939, when the outbreak of World War II forced closure of the station, and again after the war from 1952. As with the US program, listeners could obtain badges, pins, and secret codes. The Ovaltineys' advertising jingle, which featured the popular English singing trio The Beverley Sisters, was regarded as one of the most successful jingles of the era.[27]

See also


  1. ^ "L'histoire". www.wander.ch (in French). Retrieved 30 August 2017.
  2. ^ Ovaltine in German, French and Italian in the online Historical Dictionary of Switzerland.
  3. ^ "History". Wander AG. Retrieved 25 January 2022.
  4. ^ Vernon's Peterborough Directory, 1937, p. 342 "Wander, A., Ltd.
  5. ^ Vernon's Peterborough Directory, 1960, p. 251, "Ovaltine Food Products"
  6. ^ "Devonport Ovaltine Factory Formally Opened". The Advocate (Australia). Tasmania, Australia. 19 March 1943. p. 2. Retrieved 10 November 2023 – via National Library of Australia.
  7. ^ Anderson, Don (director) (1967). More Than Apples (YouTube). Libraries Tasmania. Retrieved 10 November 2023.
  8. ^ "Ovaltine Malt Beverage Mix 400g: Amazon.in: Grocery & Gourmet Foods". Amazon.in.
  9. ^ "Ovaltine Malted Drink, Original 300g". Sainsbury's.
  10. ^ "Crisp Müesli - Ovomaltine". Open Food Facts. 26 December 2016. Retrieved 25 January 2022.
  11. ^ "Advertising Memo". The Minneapolis Star. 24 March 1971. p. 10C. Retrieved 14 July 2020.
  12. ^ Jason (27 January 2014). "Gone But Not Forgotten Groceries: From the Beverage Aisle: PDQ". Gone But Not Forgotten Groceries. Retrieved 21 July 2023.
  13. ^ "Food of the Seventies, PDQ Drink Mix". inthe70s. Retrieved 21 July 2023.
  14. ^ Gallun, Alby (17 July 2013). "Two suburban apartment properties fetch $88 million". Crain's Chicago Business. Retrieved 12 June 2021.
  15. ^ "Nestlé completes its acquisition of Novartis Medical Nutrition" (Press release). Nestlé. 2 July 2007. Retrieved 5 January 2017.
  16. ^ "Brands | Ovaltine". The Himmel Group. 15 May 2007. Archived from the original on 20 January 2013. Retrieved 11 November 2012.
  17. ^ "Low carbon building". Beaufort Court. Retrieved 25 January 2022.
  18. ^ Court, Mark. "ABF pays £171m for Ovaltine". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 29 June 2021.
  19. ^ "Ovaltine Vs. Milo – The Malted Beverage Wars". Onkey Business. 8 June 2021. Retrieved 25 January 2022.
  20. ^ Cc長期餓. "4款限定甜品+特飲登場!McCafé新推阿華田系列". Hk 港生活. Retrieved 13 June 2017.
  21. ^ "Calories in Ovaltine Ovalteenies". calcount. 28 July 2020. Retrieved 25 January 2022.
  22. ^ "Mundo S/A. Erro na receita do Ovomaltine agradou paladar dos brasileiros". GloboNews. 2 December 2011. Retrieved 11 December 2014.
  23. ^ "Ovaltine, Vegemite Banned in Denmark". FOX News. 26 May 2011.
  24. ^ Olsen, John, "A short history of Radio's Orphan Annie and her Decoder Badges", Radio Archives, retrieved 9 January 2012
  25. ^ "Young Frankenstein". IMDb. Retrieved 5 October 2023.
  26. ^ "Little Orphan Annie". A Christmas Story House & Museum. Archived from the original on 28 May 2023. Retrieved 25 January 2022.
  27. ^ Street, Sean. Crossing the ether: pre-war public service radio and commercial competition in the UK. 2006, Indiana University Press, pp. 112–113.