After 140 years as the nation’s favourite malted drink, we have a few stories to tell. So sit back, relax and discover why Horlicks has a mountain range named after it, was a staple of World War II and starred in the 1948 Olympics.Please swipe left and right to navigate our heritage.
Horlicks was invented by two British-born men, William Horlick (1846-1936) and his brother James (1844-1921) from Gloucestershire, England. James was a chemist, working for a company that made dried baby food. William, the younger brother, had emigrated to America in 1869 and James decided to join him in Chicago in 1873. That same year, they started their own company (J&W Horlicks) to make a malted milk drink. They called their product 'Diastoid' and their advertising slogan read: 'Horlick's Infant and Invalids Food'.
On 5th June 1883, the brothers obtained the US patent no.278,967 for their drink's ability to mix up in liquid – and so it became the first malted milk to be patented. They were quite the pioneers back then!
The brothers built their first UK factory in Slough, Berkshire, at a cost of £28,000. (If you like, you can still pop over to Stoke Poges Lane in the town and see it. I know we're biased, but it's the most beautiful historical industrial building still standing in Slough.)
As a lightweight, non-perishable, high-calorie food supplement, Horlicks was perfect for emergency packs. So, Polar explorers began taking it on expeditions. Mountaineer Richard Byrd even named the Horlicks Mountains on the Ross Ice Shelf in honour of the company's $30,000 sponsorship. The drink made its way to both the North and South Poles on expeditions.
Horlicks did its bit for queen and country, becoming very popular during World War I, both at home and on the front lines. Then in World War II, Horlicks tablets were sold as a candy and used as an energy-booster by US, British and other soldiers, as well as being a component of aircrew escape kits.
The 1948 London Olympics saw another very proud moment when the Organising Committee gave Horlicks to all the competitors taking part. It was served both as a bedtime drink and at the various stadia during the actual sports.
As the Horlicks brand grew, it was acquired by the Beecham Group (since 1989, SmithKline Beecham). Our Slough factory now produced 30 million lbs of Horlicks powder each year. We also built a second Indian factory, in Andhra Pradesh, with further expansions up to 1978.
Today, with the support of Horlicks Ahaar Abhiyan, India, Save the Children has been working in 20 slums of Chennai, to help feed children.
To satisfy the demands of the fast-paced lifestyle that came of age in the 1980s, we created Instant Horlicks – the first instant malted drink – and launched it in a sachet format, making it even easier to enjoy the delicious malty taste.
We got a bit carried away and launched our Chocolate and Chocolate Malt flavours, to add to Horlicks Traditional.
We were very proud to become an official sponsor of the charity Walking With The Wounded. The Horlicks team sponsored WWTW's expedition to climb to the summit of Mount Everest in May 2010. This echoed the days when Horlicks was taken on Polar expeditions. We created specially formulated packs of Horlicks, porridge and fudge to nourish the brave team on their expedition.
We launched our new packs and increased levels of Vitamins C & E in our Light and Chocolate varieties, plus we added a bit more malted barley to our Traditional – while preserving the great taste of the Horlicks you know and love. So that's about it. Where 140 years went, we just don't know!