I Just Learned What 'Milky Way' Stands For, And It Has Nothing To Do With Space

<span class="copyright">NurPhoto via Getty Images</span>
NurPhoto via Getty Images

We’ve written before at HuffPost UK about why Hobnobs, Twix, and Snickers are called what they are.

We’ve even covered the “correct” way to eat a Jaffa Cake and why Yorkies are so chunky.

But given how many chocolate bars’ brands are space-themed ― Mars, Galaxy, and Milky Way, for instance ― it feels odd to think we haven’t addressed any seemingly astronomic names yet.

With the Milky Way at least, however, it turns out there’s no link to space at all.

Why is it called Milky Way, then? 

Milky Way bars in the US are similar to the UK’s Mars bars, boasting a creamy nougat base and a caramel topping.

The UK Milky Way bar, however, has a fluffy, vanilla-flavoured nougat filling ― but while the US version came first, the inspiration behind the name holds true for both.

“They [the US Mars-style bars] were first sold in 1924 and are the oldest Mars chocolate bar brand still around,” Milky Way’s site says.

They were first created in Minneapolis, Minnesota by Mars founder Frank C Mars after a conversation with his son, Forrest E. Mars.

“Their flavour was designed to capture the taste of malted milkshakes and named after a famed malted milk drink of the day, not the MILKY WAY galaxy,” Milky Way’s official site reads.

The brand’s first tagline was even “A Chocolate Malted Milk [referring to the milkshake] in a Candy Bar.”

Both the UK and the US variants still feature barley malt extract and milk powder.

So why are the US and UK names different?

It’s complicated. After his father’s success with the bar, Forrest Marslaunched the Milky Way-inspired Mars bar in the UK in 1932.

Confusingly, Mars later also sold a Mars bar in the US ― but it had nothing to do with the UK or US Milky Way. Instead, it was a nougat and toasted almond confection that’s gone in and out of production.

There is also a product in the US that’s like the UK Milky Way called The 3 Musketeers. This was sold Neopolitan-style originally, with chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla-flavoured nougat.

So there we have it ― Milky Way is based on a milkshake, has nothing to do with space, means two different bars in two different countries, and led to two completely separate Mars bars.