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History of soy milk

The oldest evidence of soy milk production is a Chinese mural incised on a stone slab. It shows a kitchen scene that proves that soy milk and tofu were being made in China during the period A.D. 25-220. The oldest written reference to soy milk appeared in also in China at about A.D. 1500., in a poem "Ode to Tofu" by Su Ping.

The earliest European reference to soy milk was in 1665 by Domingo Fernandez de Navarrete and in 1790 by Juan de Loureiro, a Portuguese missionary who lived in Vietnam. All these early references to soy milk only mentioned soy milk as part of the process for making tofu. Only 1866, Frenchman Paul Champion, who had traveled in China, mentioned that the Chinese drank hot soy milk for breakfast.


Soy milk was first referred to in the United States by Henry Trimble in 1896 in the American Journal of Pharmacy. In 1910, Li Yu-ying, a Chinese living in Paris founded the world's first soymilk factory. In 1917, the first commercial soymilk in the US was produced J.A. Chard Soy Products in New York.

The first calcium fortified soy milk was produced in 1931 by Madison Foods, Tennessee. This Madison Foods company was run by the faculty of the Madison College. In 1939 Miller started to produce canned liquid soy milk, which was called Soya La, because the dairy industries prevented Miller from calling the product "soy milk".

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