Making chocolate milk is, at least to me, a somewhat religious experience. That is not to say that I worship chocolate, or milk, or even the admittedly divine combination thereof; as I said, the MAKING of the chocolate milk is a religious experience.

Thus, I'd like to begin with a word on store-bought ready-made chocolate milk. Chocolate does not naturally stay suspended in milk. To prevent the chocolate from settling into the bottom, a seaweed extract, karageenan, is added by manufacturers. Karageenan is not particularly tasty, gives the chocolate milk a slimy texture, and usually leaves a not entirely pleasant film coating the inside of the consumer's mouth. In addition, store-bought chocolate milk is generally a little more chocolatey than I like, and often a bit less than some others like. The inability to mix to one's own specifications is a lesser disadvantage than the fact that the whole concoction is a slimy mess in the first place, but it remains another reason to just by the Hershey's syrup and milk separately in the first place.

To finally perform the religious ceremony that is the making of chocolate milk, one needs a cup -- preferably a large one, much taller than wide -- Hershey's syrup (though other sources of chocolate could certainly be used), milk (the question of fat content is left entirely to the individual), and a butter knife. At one point, I would often use spoons or even straws to do the actual mixing. I even had a lidded cup which one could shake to mix the chocolate milk. I have found through years of experience, however, that stirring with a butter knife is far, far more fulfilling than any other implement.

When one is prepared to mix, one always adds the chocolate to the milk and not vice versa. One does not measure precisely the amount of chocolate or of milk. This is where the spiritual element first enters. One places his trust in the universe, and allows circumstance and fate to add the amount of chocolate that is right for that time and place. One allows instinct to tell him when to stop squeezing syrup into the milk.

Finally, the chocolate milk is stirred. The mind of the stirrer should be almost completely focused on the color of the milk (although sometimes it is necessary to intentionally scrape chocolate off the bottom of the cup). As one watches, one will almost invariably see the milk gradually darken to the perfect chocolate brown. The sacrament is completed. Residual chocolate milk is licked from the sides of the butter knife, and the chocolate milk is ready to be drunk.