Thanks to supermarket chains conveniently located for all of our grocery needs, the demand for daily deliveries of dairy products is nearly diminished. However, you may be aware that the importance of such services was a societal norm a few decades ago. If you live in a home or an apartment building that was built prior to the 1960’s, you can most likely witness evidence of this. Let’s take a look in to the Dairy Diaries…
Beginning around the 1860’s, there was a large geographical movement as many Americans moved away from rural areas and into urban cities. This distance from farms combined with the lack of modern refrigeration technology created a strong need for the delivery of dairy products on a frequent basis. Thus, the milkman was born.
The common workday for these milkmen would begin early in the morning, picking up milk from dairy farmers and driving to suburbs and the city for door-to-door delivery. Prior to the invention of Thatcher’s Common Sense Milk Jar in 1884, milk was delivered with the use of dip cans and ladles. Recognizing the need for more sanitary actions, Dr. Thatcher developed a glass jar with a wax paper disk seal. This innovation propelled the promotion for nutritional, sanitary milk which was spear-headed by Louis Pasteur in 1863 (invented the “pasteurization” process) and Gail Borden in 1865 (creator of condensed milk).
A milk chute (a small double-door compartment near the house door) was a common household feature, which allowed a milkman to leave goods and pick up his payment within an enclosed area without entering the house. The family was then able to collect their dairy products without having to worry about being at home at the time of the delivery.
Nowadays, milk chutes are clearly not necessary in house plans, as refrigerators allow for families to store dairy products by the gallon without spoiling. If you do live in a home or apartment that has a milk chute, get creative! There are ideas out there to repurpose these spaces for storage or creating a pretty glass block. Or, you may be a part of the minute percentage that still has their milk delivered today!
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