When we started our blog in November 2005, my very first post examined a new trend in organic food: flavored milk. Dietitian Julie H. Burns, a nutrition consultant for Horizon Organic, noted:

Moms will love these new products because they’re organic, nutritious and convenient for a lunchbox or backpack. Kids will love them because they’re delicious and easy to drink on the go. Families can help reduce their kids’ exposure to added chemicals in food by incorporating organic products into their diets. An easy way to do that is by providing great-tasting organic foods in your child’s lunchbox.

A day later, we published Organic Flavored Milk: Pros and Cons, in which Chef Ann Cooper, the “Renegade Lunch Lady,” told us:

They’re really no better than soda—except for the calcium. Many have a sugar and calorie content that equals or exceeds that of soda, and they become just another way that we’re teaching our children to drink sweets.

Now, the Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP), creators of the got milk? advertising campaign, are promoting chocolate milk as the “Official Drink of Halloween.” The newest print ad, which debuted in the Oct. 16 issue of People magazine, features actress Angie Harmon (Law & Order, Women’s Murder Club) and her daughters, all sporting milk mustaches.

“At Halloween and throughout the year, my girls love the flavor of chocolate milk, and I love knowing it contains the same essential nutrients as white milk like calcium, vitamin D and other nutrients kids need to build strong bones,” Harmon states in a MilkPEP press release. “As a mom, it’s important to me that my kids learn healthy habits early—and drinking three glasses of low-fat or fat-free milk each day is one of the best habits I can pass on to them.”

Pediatrician Tanya Remer Altmann, MD, is also supporting MilkPEP’s efforts.

“With Halloween snacks all around, low-fat chocolate milk is something moms can feel good about sharing with their kids,” says the author of Mommy Calls: Dr. Tanya Answers Parents’ Top 101 Questions about Babies and Toddlers.

“Here’s a spooky fact: Two out of three kids fail to get enough calcium, which is critical to build healthy skeletons,” Dr. Altmann adds. “And studies show that kids who drink chocolate and other flavored milks have higher calcium intakes than those who don’t drink milk. Milk drinkers also tend to drink fewer sugary sodas and fruit drinks and are more likely to be at a healthy weight compared to kids who drink little or no milk.

“Encouraging kids to drink more low-fat milk is a great way to steer them from the nutrient-void temptations at Halloween and beyond,” she concludes. “Chocolate milk and white milk contain nine essential nutrients and are a key component in building strong bones during childhood. Moms can benefit from the calcium and vitamin D in chocolate milk, too.”

How do you feel about flavored milks, including the organic kind? Please share your thoughts.

Photos: Horizon Organic, MilkPEP