Quick: What’s the state drink of South Carolina? If you answered sweet tea, no one could blame you. South Carolinians love the icy sweetness on a scorching hot summer day. And sweet tea is South Carolina’s state hospitality drink.
But the official state drink is actually milk.
Milk was named the state drink in 1984, and with South Carolina being a largely rural and agricultural state, it makes perfect sense. Dairy farms and the milk they produce are an important part of both South Carolina’s heritage and economy. The Upstate, especially, is dotted with lovely dairy farms as you drive over the rolling hills on back roads.
If you ever wished you could pull into one of those farms and see what happens there, you’re in luck. Some farms offer tours, where visitors can see the barns and fields, meet the animals and even sample and buy the delicious milk and dairy products made right there.
Happy Cow Creamery in Pelzer, with its green field, big barns and black and white cows looks just like a farm from your childhood imagination. A tour gives you the chance to learn all about life on a dairy farm and the process of getting milk from the cows to your dinner table. You need to schedule a tour at least a few days in advance, so don’t wait if you know you want to go. After your tour, definitely make sure you stop by the farm store to load up on delicious dairy products, including milk, buttermilk, butter and cheese, among other products from the farm. And by all means, don't miss the chocolate milk.
Most people probably think of cows when they think of milk and dairy farms, but delicious milk and cheese comes from goats too. Split Creek Farm is a charming and enchanting goat farm in Anderson. Schedule a tour, and you’ll get to learn all about their goats and the dogs who herd and protect them, as well as see the milking parlor and sample products made from the goats’ milk, including award-winning feta and even fudge.
Any article about milk in South Carolina has to include Clemson University. While the school’s many farms are not open for tours or visitors, the chance to try the delicious – and famous – dairy products made at the school make it a must-stop. Located in the beautiful little town of Clemson, the university is home to Clemson Ice Cream and Clemson Blue Cheese, made by students right on campus. Sample the amazing homemade (or should that be “schoolmade”?) ice cream and cheese at the ’55 Exchange on campus. You also can order the cheese online or pick up a block at many specialty markets across the state.
So on the next hot summer day in South Carolina, by all means pour a glass of tea. But when night falls, after a heavy thunderstorm has cooled everything down, grab a glass of South Carolina milk before bed. Makes for sweet dreams.