I don't drink milk myself, but among my friends that do, the one application where they find soymilk a poor substitute is the classic dish "milk and cookies". What is it about cow's milk that makes it go well with fresh-baked cookies that soymilk cannot replicate? It can't be the fat content alone, because my roommate drinks exclusively fat-free skim milk.

  • I wonder if your roommate likes soymilk at all. Many people don't if they have only tried it once or twice. – Chris Steinbach Sep 13 '12 at 3:42
  • He says he likes it well enough in tea, on cereal, et cetera. – Yamikuronue Sep 13 '12 at 12:11
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    +1 for a darn good question even if I don't like cow or soy milk. I'll be impressed if anyone can offer a credible answer. – Carey Gregory Sep 14 '12 at 0:23
  • This is purely subjective and probably a result of your upbringing. I live in a country with plenty of fresh milk and cookies, but they are not usually served together, and no one seems to think they should be? – TFD Sep 25 '12 at 0:45
  • @TFD When you say cookies, do you mean American-style chocolate chip cookies? Or do you mean European-style tea biscuits? The former go well with milk (as do American creme-filled sandwich cookies e.g. Oreos), the latter would definitely not work well. – Theodore Murdock Sep 25 '12 at 13:58

I haven't been able to find any empirical data, but here are my theories:

  • Most cookies contain butter which has similar proteins as milk and the combination of the two resonates on that level. Soy milk does not share those protein profiles, so there is no sensory resonance.

  • Cookies are generally quite sweet and rich. Milk helps blunt that sweetness by washing away some of the sugar and coating the tongue. Many soy milks have sweeter taste than dairy milk which would make the overall sweetness of the combination excessive. (For comparison's sake does your roommate use soy milk on sweetened cereals or more neutral-tasting cereals? I would suspect the latter.)

  • In addition to the natural "grassy" flavors that soy milks can have, they may also have other flavorants like vanilla that make them less neutral flavored than dairy milk which competes with the flavor of the cookies.

  • We do tend to get vanilla-flavored soymilk, so this seems to be accurate :) Thanks! – Yamikuronue Sep 24 '12 at 23:16
  • I did some taste testing with soy milk, lactose free milk and regular full fat milk. I tend to agree with the second bullet that a contrast to the cookies sweetness is the difference. Both the soy milk and the lactose free use sucrose as a sweetener and taste sickly sweet together with cookies. Regular milk, sweetened naturally with lactose, is much less sweet in comparison and was pleasant and refreshing together with the cookies. – Chris Steinbach Sep 26 '12 at 3:14

The fat, protein, calcium, water in the milk make the snack more nutritious and healthy without changing into another taste experience like, say, cookies and salad. Like the cookie, milk is still a sweet taste (lactose) and a rich experience (calories and fat). Combined they make a great snack or desert experience. It seems evolutionary to me that we would favor a food that not only gives us quick energy (simple sugars in cookies) but also necessary molecules of protein, fat, water. If you were to combine the cookie with a different nutritional food, you are no longer enjoying the indulgence of a rich, sweet dessert, and changing the experience to an odd one. Also, cookies are dry, so liquid calories are a nice compliment.

  • I love the idea of cookies and salad :) – Erica Apr 23 '16 at 21:28

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