New York Dairies Deliver Milk in Paper Bottles (May, 1929)

New York Dairies Deliver Milk in Paper Bottles
THE OLD familiar milk bottle which greets the householder on the back stoop every morning bids fair to be replaced by a paper container which has several advantages over the glass bottle. In the first place, the new container cannot be shattered and it has no glass edges to be chipped off with consequent danger of foreign particles finding their way into the milk. Instead of a flat cap as on an ordinary bottle, which must be handled with the utmost respect if the bottle opener is not to be drenched with a geyser of milk, the paper container is opened by cutting along a dotted line with a knife. If the entire contents are not consumed immediately, the top can be folded over and the milk is preserved in sanitary condition. The paper bottles are less expensive than the glass variety, costing three-fourths of a cent each, while the cost of a glass bottle averages over one, cent for each I time it is used, the average life of a bottle being but four trips before it is broken.

5 comments
  1. Hirudinea says: April 20, 20122:02 pm

    Looks like a 30′s “Tetra-Pak”, wonder why they never caught on earlier?

  2. Charlene says: April 20, 20129:43 pm

    @Hirudinea: I can see why these wouldn’t have caught on. Ever cut open a plastic bag of a dry item – raisins, maybe, or rice – and end up with the contents spilling out all over? Now imagine that bag full of milk. At least with the milk bags they had in Canada in the old days you had a plastic holder to place them in before you cut them.

    Also, I’m not sure if these cardboard containers would have been reliably waterproof given that polyurethane wasn’t available yet. The success of the gable-style milk carton and the Tetra Brik depend on plastic-coated paper.

  3. Hirudinea says: April 21, 20124:34 pm

    @ Charlene – I don’t know if you keep a firm hold on the container and have a good pair of scissors it should’t be a problem. As for the waterproofing, they had “wax” technology, like what they use for wax paper, it shouldn’t have that much of a problem. Personally I think that it was something to do with fashion, people were used to the glass bottles, plus it was the depression, a hard time to convince milk companies to switch to a new, untried, technology, which is probably why these things took off in the post war boom. And since when were milk bags from the “old days”, I can go to the store and get 3 bags full right now! (I like milk bags, they’re such a good idea, only in Canada? Pity.)

  4. Charlene says: April 22, 20127:44 pm

    Well, yeah, that’s the thing: the container works IF the user expends additional care and effort, but consumers are generally resistant to changes that require additional effort from them unless they perceive an obvious personal advantage. What advantage did this give to the consumer, especially at a time when milk was frequently delivered and sat on the stoop for an hour or two before being taken in? The drawbacks are obvious – poorly insulated, an easy source of food for the odd wandering dog, and wax really is not as good a sealant as plastic, especially if the sun hits it.

    I can’t remember exactly when I last saw milk in a bag – 1985? 1988? Certainly it was gone from the shelves by 1990. Haven’t seen it for over twenty years.

  5. Toronto says: April 23, 20125:08 am

    You can still get bagged milk here – typically in 4 litre / 3 bag packages.

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