They do things a little differently in Rhode Island.
Coffee milk is the official state drink of Rhode Island. No, seriously, it was made official in 1993. If you’re from anywhere outside America’s smallest state, or aren’t eating buddies with any Rhode Islanders, you may be scratching your head. No, we are not talking about coffee with milk. We are talking about coffee milk.
This is what coffee milk looks like
Coffee milk is kind of Rhode Island’s answer to New York’s egg cream. The combination of sweet coffee syrup and milk is enjoyed at all hours of the day, and no brand is as ubiquitous as Autocrat Syrup.
Who makes Coffee Milk?
Autocrat showed up on the scene in the 1930s, shortly after their main competitor, Eclipse. The decades-long rivalry came to an end in 1991, when Autocrat purchased Eclipse, and they still produce both labels to this day.
People are pretty passionate about their Autocrat coffee milk
That’s right, Autocrat actually produces their main competitor on the coffee milk scene. The company also produces a third label, Coffee Time Syrup (whose label design we are in love with), which they sell mainly to markets outside Rhode Island. We suspect they’re all the same formula, or at least taste the same. Rhodies? Care to weigh in?
The same company makes all these in Rhode Island
The beverage is often referred to as weird and distinctly Rhode Island, something only locals understand and appreciate, and something they can’t even give away to tourists.
Rhode Island Makes Some Other Unique Foods
So What Does It Taste Like?
The appeal is pretty straightforward: It’s like the milkiest, sweetest latte you’ve ever had. It’s like somebody melted coffee ice cream and served it to you room temperature. It’s a non-alcoholic White Russian.
Why in Rhode Island?
In Rhode Island most people trace the beverage to the state’s Italian population. Between 1898 and 1932, over 55,000 Italians arrived at the port of Providence, mainly from southern Italy, to work for cheap in the state’s textile mills. And from Italy, they brought an appreciation for strong but milky coffee. “In Italy they often made a bitter coffee with grain. The brew was then heavily sweetened. The children drank what the parents did. The tradition of sweetening continued here,” wrote Nancy Verde Barr, author of We Called It Macaroni: An American Heritage of Southern Italian Cooking.
Let’s Not Forget that Rhode Island Also Gave us Mr. Potato Head
Hasbro is headquartered in Pawtucket, Rhode Island