Chocolate milk, brown cows, junk surveys and publicity stunts

A survey from the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy found that 7% of American adults think chocolate milk comes from brown cows. And if that percentage sounds small enough to be reasonable, hang onto your hats: 7% of American adults is about 17.3 million people.
- Chocolate milk definitely doesn't come from brown cows -- but some adults think otherwise, CNN June 16 2017
A recent survey conducted by the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy revealed that 7 percent of American adults — roughly 16 million people — think that brown cows produce chocolate milk.
- 7 Percent of American Adults Believe Chocolate Milk Comes From Brown Cows, PETA June 19 2017
The nationally representative survey gets more alarming. Forty-eight percent of respondents admitted they weren't sure where chocolate milk comes from. If this is true across the nation generally, that would be an astounding 154,272,000 potential voters who aren't confident enough to guess "cows?".
- Millions Of Americans Think Chocolate Milk Comes From Brown Cows, IFLScience June 16 2017

This little report quickly spread across the world. Much of it's viral energy can presumably be attributed to the global joy felt whenever American stupidity is proven ... But is it, really? How was the study conducted? Where is it available?

Dairy Management Inc. is an organization dedicated to the promotion of sales of American dairy products. It is funded by taxpayers and milk consumers of the country. It features several "labels" or sister organizations such as National Dairy Council, U.S. Dairy Export Council and Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy. Since they run a number of websites it's not obvious where to look for official press releases and such. Here is what one of their sites write about the survey in question:
A survey conducted by our own Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy uncovered the fact that some Americans are pretty disconnected from how their food travels from the farm to their table. 
In fact, about half of 1,000 people polled said they weren’t sure where chocolate milk comes from, as Today.com reported.
- Survey: Some Americans Actually Think Chocolate Milk Comes from Brown Cows, dairygood.org 16 juni 2017

They don't link to a full report or anything, only to Today.com: A startling number of American adults think chocolate milk comes from brown cows, created June 15. Today.com cites Food & Wine: Survey finds too many people still think chocolate milk comes from brown cows, June 1. And Food & Wine still doesn't quote any actual report, but links to UndeniablyDairy.org – a campaign site at dairygood.org, with no information about the report but a link to Today.com ...

No report anywhere? I wrote to the milk people and got a swift reply:
The full survey currently isn't posted anywhere. The survey was conducted by Edelman Intelligence [well known company doing PR, market surveys etc] to kick off our Undeniably Dairy campaign on behalf of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy.

The purpose of the survey was to gauge some interesting and fun facts about consumers' perceptions of dairy, not a scientific or academic study intended to be published, yet the USA Today Snapshot’s interest in the chocolate milk stats has brought on the attention.

The study polled 1,000 American adults online [an online survey! color me surprised] between May 5 and May 9, 2017. Responses came from all 50 states, and the regional response breakdown was fairly even, with a slight uptick (approx. 10% higher) in the South.

In addition to the chocolate milk and brown cows stat, there were many interesting stats uncovered from the survey, such as:

63% of Americans would prefer to stay in and have milk and cookies on a Friday night, rather than going out.
Yes, that is a very interesting stat. If you believe this, you can believe anything, I guess. (Unless "stay in and have milk and cookies" was the only alternative to "going out"; perhaps "stay in and have something else than milk and cookies" wasn't an option.)
A quarter of Americans have gone to the grocery store or a convenience store before 6 am just to get milk.
This looks like another highly questionable statement.
43% of Americans like to start their day with beverage that includes dairy.
95% have at least one type of cheese in their refrigerator right now and 4 in 5 have at least two.
94% of Americans' favorite delicious treats prominently feature dairy.
9 in 10 consume dairy every week.
42% of milk consumption occurs at breakfast.
- Lisa McComb, Senior Vice President Communications, Dairy Management Inc.

All in all: The statement, that 7 % of Americans etc., is backed by no reliable evidence whatsoever.

At least, Lisa is honest. The point of releasing this piece of fake news based on a junk survey is not to show the world how stupid Americans are, but to promote milk and dairy products. And they don't have to pay a cent of taxpayer money or dairy checkoff fees, since CNN, PETA, IFLScience and a myriad other more or less credulous "news" outlets spread their publicity stunt for free. In that context, it doesn't matter the slightest how the survey was conducted.

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