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Ovaltine, a beverage made by adding hot milk to a proprietary powder made from malt extract, milk, and eggs, dates from the early years of the twentieth century. The name, based on oval with reference to the drink's egg content, was first registered as a trademark by the Swiss firm of Albert Wander in 1906. Its popularity took off after the First World War, based on a dual appeal as a nourishing food and a soothing bed-time drink and boosted by such inspired marketing ideas as the Ovaltineys, a 1930s children's club promoted by radio advertising. By the 1930s it had become enough of a fixture in English middle-class life for its connotations of cosy complacency and unadventurousness to be exploited by John Betjeman: ‘He gives his Ovaltine a stir and nibbles at a “petit beurre”’ (Continual Dew, 1937).

Subjects: Cookery, Food, and Drink.

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