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Old 07-11-2019, 08:54 PM
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How many kinds of milk are there now vs at various points in the past


I don't really remember what kinds of milk you could buy in the 80s and 90s, but I think it was just dairy and maybe soy milk.

Dairy has always had options like skim, 1%, 2%, whole and chocolate. Always came in a wide range of containers like 8oz, 16oz, 32oz, 64oz & 128oz bottles.

But based on TV I'm guessing a long time ago you only had one choice of milk, whatever the milkman brought. And it seemed to come in universal sized bottles, I'm guessing you couldn't pick the fat content and it was just dairy milk. Unless TV lied to me (which would be a first) back in the 50s your only option of milk was whatever the milkman brought and it was a single kind of dairy milk in a single sized bottle.

So over time when have milk options changed?

Nowadays aside from the variety of dairy options you also have lactaid (dairy with broken down lactose), various kinds of soy milk, nut milks, rice milk, coconut milk, a2 milk, etc.

Then I guess you've got canned milk, dehydrated milk, condensed milk, etc. available in the baking isle.

I don't know. When did all these milk options start? Did they just happen overnight, or were they slowly phased in?
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Old 07-11-2019, 10:06 PM
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Canned milk became available around the middle of the 19th century. Civil War soldiers liked to binge on sweetened condensed milk in camp.

Goat's milk, I think, has pretty much always been available from dairy farms, in addition to cow's milk. Commercial dairy farms have probably been around since at least the 1880s.

I'd guess things like rice and soy milk became commercially available sometime in the early 20th century. By that time, North America had a sizable Asian population.

I'd imagine things like reduced fat and lactose-free milk became popular only in the second half of the 20th century, due to health concerns.

More exotic things like camel's and mare's milk have probably been imported for immigrant communities since---I don't know, the early 20th century?
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Old 07-11-2019, 10:07 PM
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For medium to large animals, if humans have domesticated it and kept it on the farm we've collected and consumed it's milk. Yak, horse, cow, goat sheep, reindeer, donkey, camel, reindeer,water buffalo etc. That tended to be limited by what kinds of animals were kept in different cultures and climes. If it was big enough to be worth the effort and would let us, we'd milk it.
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Old 07-11-2019, 10:27 PM
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I know that we've gotten milk from various animals. I heard on NPR (I believe) that back when we would use sheeps wool we also ate a lot of goats milk, but as alternatives to wool became available the goat population declined and we switched away from goats milk.

But when you go to a mainstream grocery store it at least seems like there are far more options for milk products than there were a few decades ago. I'm not sure when that started.
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Old 07-11-2019, 11:00 PM
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But based on TV I'm guessing a long time ago you only had one choice of milk, whatever the milkman brought. And it seemed to come in universal sized bottles, I'm guessing you couldn't pick the fat content and it was just dairy milk.
Well, because the bottles were considerably smaller than today's gallon and half-gallon jugs, you ordered them by number rather than size to get your desired amount of milk.

And AFAIK at least as early as the 1930s there were at least a couple different kinds of milk available in those delivery bottles, distinguished by the color of the foil cap. One kind might have had extra cream in it?

As for fat content, in the days before homogenization, the cream rose to the top of the bottle. So you could shake/stir it up for "full-fat" milk or pour off the cream to get partially skimmed milk.

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Originally Posted by terentii
Canned milk became available around the middle of the 19th century. Civil War soldiers liked to binge on sweetened condensed milk in camp.
By the end of the 19th century there was also canned unsweetened condensed milk, or evaporated milk.

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Originally Posted by terentii
I'd imagine things like reduced fat and lactose-free milk became popular only in the second half of the 20th century, due to health concerns.
Yup, before WWII skimmed milk was primarily used for livestock feed. Powdered skim milk was in demand during the war as an easily transportable form of milk with a long shelf life.
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Old 07-11-2019, 11:27 PM
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Well, because the bottles were considerably smaller than today's gallon and half-gallon jugs, you ordered them by number rather than size to get your desired amount of milk.
I'd guess this also limited the amount of milk that spoiled on you. You'd only order what you thought you'd need for a day or two. In East Europe, I'd buy a litre of fresh milk and have whatever little I hadn't consumed go sour by the next morning.

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By the end of the 19th century there was also canned unsweetened condensed milk, or evaporated milk.
I'd guess unsweetened came first. Sugar was added as it became cheaper to produce.
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Old 07-11-2019, 11:31 PM
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But when you go to a mainstream grocery store it at least seems like there are far more options for milk products than there were a few decades ago. I'm not sure when that started.
The 1970s, I'm pretty sure. I don't remember supermarkets having anything other than plain homogenized cow's milk (whole and skimmed) before that.
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Old 07-11-2019, 11:40 PM
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Born in 1956. I was told by my mother that I could not tolerate cow’s milk as an infant, and so my bottle-feedings were with goats’ milk.

She died in 2009, so I can’t find out if I was ever nursed, or if infant formula was readily available. I DO know that after I showed up she got pregnant again almost immediately and my brother was born eleven months after I was (this could have played a role in the decision to put me on the bottle).
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Old 07-11-2019, 11:44 PM
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I'd guess unsweetened came first. Sugar was added as it became cheaper to produce.
Nope. The sugar content initially aided in preserving the milk; it took a while longer to figure out how to keep the canned milk from spoiling without putting sugar in it.
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The idea for a portable canned milk product that would not spoil came to Gail Borden during a transatlantic trip on board a ship in 1852. [...]

Borden was granted a patent for sweetened condensed milk in 1856. The sugar was added to inhibit bacterial growth. Skim milk devoid of all fat was used. [...]

It was John Baptist Meyenberg who first suggested canned evaporated milk to his employers at the Anglo-Swiss Condensed Milk Co. in Switzerland in 1866. Since the company was already so successful producing sweetened condensed milk, the idea was rejected. Meyenberg emigrated to the United States and began his own company, Helvetia Milk Condensing Co. (Pet Milk), eventually marketing unsweetened condensed milk in 1890.

Although Borden received his patent in 1854, unsweetened condensed milk was not successfully canned until 1885 by competitor John Meyenberg. Borden added evaporated milk to the product line in 1892. In 1899, Elbridge Amos Stuart came up with a new process for canned, sterilized, evaporated milk. With help from evaporated milk pioneer Meyenberg, Stuart began successful mass production of canned evaporated milk. Evaporated milk manufacturers pioneered the use of homogenization [...]
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Old 07-11-2019, 11:57 PM
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Nope. The sugar content initially aided in preserving the milk; it took a while longer to figure out how to keep the canned milk from spoiling without putting sugar in it.
I stand corrected.
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Old 07-12-2019, 12:06 AM
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But based on TV I'm guessing a long time ago you only had one choice of milk, whatever the milkman brought.
I wasn't around then either, but from what I gathered from old books, there were at least a few choices, and you left an order form or note on your door telling the milkman what you wanted -- something like "3 bottles of milk and 1 container of cream" or something like that.
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Old 07-12-2019, 12:28 AM
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In the 60's we had whole and skim. I don't know if there was always 2% back then, but we definitely switched to that by the early '70's as it suited our stomaches better (I'm Asian, so somewhat lactose intolerant). There was also Carnation Milk Powder (n that orange box with the kid on it), which goes back to at leas the '50's (in M*A*S*H they talk about powered milk) and evaporated milk, which came in those tomato sauce sized cans. This was used mainly as coffee creamer, but in a pinch we would add water to it and use it as regular milk in baking.

We tried milk delivery a few times, but half the time it was spoiled. Not sure if it was because we didn't bring it in on time or it spoiled in the delivery truck.

Milk was always in wax cardboard cartons, 1/2 pint, pint, quart or half gallon. There were no glass bottles that I remember. Though my parents talked about it. And of course, glass milk bottle cardboard tops were the original POGs.

Last edited by lingyi; 07-12-2019 at 12:32 AM.
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Old 07-12-2019, 12:32 AM
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In the '60's, our milkman came once a week. My mom would leave the order form filled out in the box. Quart, 1/2-gallon, or gallon glass bottles of milk (regular or skim) were available. Not many people got the gallon size because it was so heavy. Buttermilk and goat milk was also available, but we never got those. Cream and half&half came in pint bottles, and possibly 1/2-pint.
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Old 07-12-2019, 12:43 AM
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My Mom used to love telling the story that when I was a baby I couldn't tolerate any type of baby formula or milk, including goat's milk. The only thing that I could keep down was soy milk, which of course was the most expensive!

I still have to be very careful with milk. The only thing I'm 95% okay with locally produced 2%. Anything else, whole or skim gives me hives or the runs most of the time. I'm generally okay with any type of ice cream except sometimes McDonalds or Dairy Queen. I haven't tried any of the new types of milk that are supposed to be better for lactose intolerance, but I rarely drink it or eat cereal anyway.
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Old 07-12-2019, 12:58 AM
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When I lived in the UK in the '70s, whole milk in bottles was still being delivered. It usually had a good layer of cream at the top.

In Minneapolis in the '60s, we bought milk from the store in waxed cartons (usually half gallons). No bottles.

I first had UHT milk in Moscow in the '90s. Made life a lot easier, since I didn't have to buy fresh milk every day.

I read somewhere once that the buttermilk sold in supermarkets is not the same as the traditional stuff. Today's buttermilk is cultured (made with strains of bacteria), while the real thing really is the milk left over from making butter.

Powdered milk has been around for a long time. It was shipped in bulk to Great Britain and the Soviet Union during WWII, and whenever a cargo vessel loaded with it was sunk by a U-boat, the sea would turn white.

When I was growing up, a lot of TV shows (mostly the daytime ones watched by housewives) were sponsored by Carnation instant milk. I remember Art Linkletter doing live commercials in which he'd mix up a pitcher and tell everyone how good it tasted. (I tried it once when I was in fifth or sixth grade; if you mixed it according to the instructions on the package, it tasted like chalk dissolved in water. It wasn't until much later I found you need to use a lot more powder than was recommended. I now keep a big bag of it on hand in case I run out of regular milk and can't make it to the supermarket to buy more.)
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Old 07-12-2019, 01:07 AM
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I know that we've gotten milk from various animals. I heard on NPR (I believe) that back when we would use sheeps wool we also ate a lot of goats milk, but as alternatives to wool became available the goat population declined and we switched away from goats milk...
I may be missing something obvious here but I'm puzzled as to why using sheep to obtain wool would have an impact on why the goat population and consumption of goat milk would decline. Sheep and goats are two different animals.

Both animals can give us milk but the word wool typically refers to the textile fiber from sheep. The fiber harvested from goats can be called wool but is more accurately referred to as cashmere or mohair.
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Old 07-12-2019, 01:07 AM
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Born in 1956. I was told by my mother that I could not tolerate cow’s milk as an infant, and so my bottle-feedings were with goats’ milk.

She died in 2009, so I can’t find out if I was ever nursed, or if infant formula was readily available. I DO know that after I showed up she got pregnant again almost immediately and my brother was born eleven months after I was (this could have played a role in the decision to put me on the bottle).
In the 50s, at least in the US, the majority of babies, including myself, were bottle fed with formula. Except for the small minority who chose to breastfeed, women were given injections to halt lactation.

My mother told me that the maternity nurses seemed to consider the breastfeeders a nuisance and referred to them as cows behind their backs.

I think bottle feeding was considered more civilized or something. If I had to guess I'd say this was probably due to marketing by the formula manufacturers.
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Old 07-12-2019, 01:16 AM
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I haven't tried any of the new types of milk that are supposed to be better for lactose intolerance, but I rarely drink it or eat cereal anyway.
I first had soy milk at a Chinese restaurant in Minneapolis in the '80s. Pretty good stuff, but I still prefer whole cow's milk.

My daughter was found to be lactose intolerant around the time she graduated from college. She now comes over to take care of my cat whenever I'm away, and I always keep some cartons of UHT almond milk for her to drink when she spends the night at my place.

I first had goat's milk from a rural dairy in the west of England in 1976. In the last couple of years, I've been able to find it in most supermarkets in both Canada and Russia, so I guess it's gained in popularity.
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Old 07-12-2019, 01:22 AM
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In the 50s, at least in the US, the majority of babies, including myself, were bottle fed with formula. Except for the small minority who chose to breastfeed, women were given injections to halt lactation.

My mother told me that the maternity nurses seemed to consider the breastfeeders a nuisance and referred to them as cows behind their backs.

I think bottle feeding was considered more civilized or something. If I had to guess I'd say this was probably due to marketing by the formula manufacturers.
I once asked my mother why she never breast fed me or my brothers (born in 1947, 1955, 1962, and 1964). She was adamantly against it, saying illnesses could be transferred from mother to child through breast feeding. Feeding babies formula from sterilized bottles was supposed to be much healthier.
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Old 07-12-2019, 02:42 AM
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Almond milk was a big thing in the European Middle Ages. Partly because of preservation issues with animal milks (almond milk keeps a week without refrigeration, plus you can make it as-needed), partly because of religious prohibitions against dairy during fast days - which covers a lot more than just the Lenten fast - strictly speaking, 3 days every week were fast days. Mediaeval Europeans got almond milk from the Muslims, and made it integral to their cuisine. It's in everything...

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Old 07-12-2019, 05:12 AM
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When I lived in the UK in the '70s, whole milk in bottles was still being delivered. It usually had a good layer of cream at the top.
This is my recollection from UK in the 70s as well. One pint glass bottles with a foil top. It either came in silver-top, which was full fat, and had that cream layer on top, or gold-top, which was extra fat, with more cream.

The glass bottles were left on the doorstep by the milkman. You washed the bottles and put them back out for collection.

Memories of doorstep milk:

- seeing the odd house with multiple bottles on their doorstep because they'd forgotten to cancel the milk when they were on holiday
- the milk freezing in winter and expanding, pushing the foil lid straight up from the bottle
- the local bird population - especially blue tits for some reason - pecking through the foil tops to get the cream
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Old 07-12-2019, 08:21 AM
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Different breeds of cows produce different amounts of butterfat in their milk (on average). E.g., Jerseys more than Holsteins (but Holsteins give more milk).

So people would sometimes have an option of which type of cow produced the milk and therefore the butterfat content. (Time of year, etc. made things variable.) So there might be an image of a Jersey of Holstein on the label.

Then the Feds decided that whole milk was 3.25% milk fat and things got monotonous.
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Old 07-12-2019, 08:33 AM
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But based on TV I'm guessing a long time ago you only had one choice of milk, whatever the milkman brought. And it seemed to come in universal sized bottles, I'm guessing you couldn't pick the fat content and it was just dairy milk. Unless TV lied to me (which would be a first) back in the 50s your only option of milk was whatever the milkman brought and it was a single kind of dairy milk in a single sized bottle.
Milk* only came in quarts. You had several types available in the 50s and 60s: Pasteurized whole milk, homogenized whole milk (still new in the 50s and more expensive), Skim (usually only pasteurized), and chocolate. You usually had a standing order with the milk company: two quarts of homogenized in each delivery, for example. If you anticipated needing more or less, you'd leave a note in the box (many people had a galvanized insulated box where the milk was delivered) or in an empty milk bottles, since all the bottles were property of the milk company and the empties had to be returned.

Nowadays, all milk is homogenized. Pasteurized milk had cream rising to the top, which could be used as cream. You could also get cream and butter.

The TV showed only one type of milk (if they used milk at all -- sometimes it was just a bottle painted white on the inside) because there's no visual difference between the non-chocolate milks.


*and elephants
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Old 07-12-2019, 09:22 AM
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This is my recollection from UK in the 70s as well. One pint glass bottles with a foil top. It either came in silver-top, which was full fat, and had that cream layer on top, or gold-top, which was extra fat, with more cream.

The glass bottles were left on the doorstep by the milkman. You washed the bottles and put them back out for collection.

Memories of doorstep milk:

- seeing the odd house with multiple bottles on their doorstep because they'd forgotten to cancel the milk when they were on holiday
- the milk freezing in winter and expanding, pushing the foil lid straight up from the bottle
- the local bird population - especially blue tits for some reason - pecking through the foil tops to get the cream
There was a documentary on TV at this time about a milkman who was caught red-handed switching bottles of sour milk for fresh to discredit a competitor. He later claimed he was innocent and had admitted to the crime only because he wanted to be released so he could make it to the races that day. He was eventually convicted for theft and lying to a police officer, but he continued to deny he was guilty.
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Old 07-12-2019, 09:31 AM
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The TV showed only one type of milk (if they used milk at all -- sometimes it was just a bottle painted white on the inside) because there's no visual difference between the non-chocolate milks.
There was an episode of Leave It to Beaver where Wally comes home from school with Eddie Haskell. He takes a bottle of milk (the real stuff) from the fridge and asks Eddie "Hey, you want a hunk of milk?"

Eddie's reply is "No, I don't want a hunk of milk."*

This exchange was apparently funny, since it was deemed worthy of a chuckle on the laugh track.

*Eddie always was a real asshole.
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Old 07-12-2019, 09:41 AM
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Different breeds of cows produce different amounts of butterfat in their milk (on average). E.g., Jerseys more than Holsteins (but Holsteins give more milk).

So people would sometimes have an option of which type of cow produced the milk and therefore the butterfat content. (Time of year, etc. made things variable.) So there might be an image of a Jersey of Holstein on the label.

Then the Feds decided that whole milk was 3.25% milk fat and things got monotonous.
My favorite milk memory is that time i stayed at a nice hotel in Vienna, and the breakfast buffet had like ten different milks on it, at various fat percentages from skim to half and half (~12%?). I thought the sweet spot was around 4-5%, though probably too rich for day to day drinking.

Still, I wish we had more options for "more fat than whole" milk in the US. Is that something that is common in Europe? Or was this just a particularly fancy hotel that catered to fans of gourmet dairy products?
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Old 07-12-2019, 09:53 AM
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My favorite milk memory is that time i stayed at a nice hotel in Vienna, and the breakfast buffet had like ten different milks on it, at various fat percentages from skim to half and half (~12%?). I thought the sweet spot was around 4-5%, though probably too rich for day to day drinking.

Still, I wish we had more options for "more fat than whole" milk in the US. Is that something that is common in Europe? Or was this just a particularly fancy hotel that catered to fans of gourmet dairy products?
In Russia and the Baltics, the fat content can vary from 2% to 6%. There may be other grades, but I don't recall seeing them right offhand. The milk I usually buy there is around 4%, and it keeps a lot better than the stuff available 30 (and even 15) years ago.

One thing that surprised me when I moved to Canada was that some milk is sold in hermetically sealed plastic bags, three to a pack. Each bag contains 1.33 litres of milk, so you get 4 L to a pack. I had never seen this before. Since they take up so much space, I normally buy them only in the winter, when I can store them in a bin out back.
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Old 07-12-2019, 10:08 AM
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In Russia and the Baltics, the fat content can vary from 2% to 6%. There may be other grades, but I don't recall seeing them right offhand. The milk I usually buy there is around 4%, and it keeps a lot better than the stuff available 30 (and even 15) years ago.
The cream that I buy varies from 10% to 20%. The lower value is for what's called Half-and-Half in the US. I've never tried to make my own whipped cream in Moscow, so I don't know if there's anything higher available in cartons. The stuff that comes in pressurized cans (mostly imported from West Europe) can have a fat content of around 30% (or more).
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Old 07-12-2019, 10:27 AM
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When I lived in the UK in the '70s, whole milk in bottles was still being delivered.
Well into the '80s, old milk crates and 2x12s were the standard bookshelves for college students and bachelors in the US.
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Old 07-12-2019, 11:21 AM
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Well into the '80s, old milk crates and 2x12s were the standard bookshelves for college students and bachelors in the US.
Milk crates still exist and theft of them is still are problem for dairies. They are used to hold the jugs enroute to the stores.
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Old 07-12-2019, 11:22 AM
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When I lived in the UK in the '70s, whole milk in bottles was still being delivered. It usually had a good layer of cream at the top.
We still got it delivered- glass pint bottles, complete with layer of cream and cheeky bluetits- right up to the late '80s. It's apparently coming back into fashion in some areas now to get retro style delivery, but not round here.

Non-homogenised milk is definitely a bit of a fringe thing now as well. I prefer it, but there's only one shop in this town sells it.

Most places here stock whole, semi-skimmed, skimmed* plus maybe 1% and something like Jersey milk (higher fat). And goat milk in full fat and skimmed, lacto-free and assorted non-dairy milks.

The fat % will be listed on there somewhere, but aside from 1% it's not what we'd call it. We might call it blue top (whole) green top (semi skim) and red top (skim), but that's only regionally common.


* Or, in my Great-Aunt's description 'Milk wi all t'goodness tekken out.'
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Old 07-12-2019, 11:53 AM
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Originally Posted by ftg View Post
Milk crates still exist and theft of them is still are problem for dairies. They are used to hold the jugs enroute to the stores.
I have a couple I use to keep my cat from jumping up into my bedroom window. He claws at the screen and window frame, trying to get out.
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Old 07-12-2019, 12:28 PM
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Hemp milk is a thing.
  #34  
Old 07-12-2019, 01:27 PM
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I'm something of an expert on this, since I literally wrote the book on lactose intolerance.

Alternatives to standard cow's milk were certainly rare before the 1980s. They did exist. Jews who keep kosher are not supposed to mix milk and meat. Several non-dairy creamers were developed for this market. They were fairly easy to find in New York City, the place with the largest concentration of Jews, but only available sporadically elsewhere, usually in a city's one Jewish neighborhood. Buffalo's Rich Products Company, e.g., introduced non-dairy whipped topping in 1945 and the non-dairy creamer CoffeeRich in 1961, the same year Carnation introduced Coffeemate. Coming at it from a different pov, California has always been the home to fad diets, and various soy and nut milks were on the shelves of specialty stores a long ways back.

Lactose intolerance (LI) was virtually unknown as a condition, even to doctors, before the 1970s. I have never heard the term before I was diagnosed with it in 1978. The only non-dairy alternatives I remember finding were various Rich products. But Lactaid started selling its pills in 1984. Then Dairy Ease entered the market. They were bought up by large corporations and started a media war to raise attention to LI in the 1990s. That led to most major supermarkets stocking lactose-reduced (later lactose-free) real dairy milk.

Soy milks and their ilk were in the natural foods stores that were fairly common by the time I wrote my first book in 1986 but rare in supermarkets. It took a decade or two for them to enter the mainstream, and they did so very slowly and incrementally. I used to be able to keep track of them and publish listings of brands in various categories that covered most of the market. I gave that up a decade ago when the numbers became overwhelming. (Here's soy milks from 2005.)

So, definitely slowly, over a period of decades.
  #35  
Old 07-12-2019, 02:21 PM
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ISTR reading somewhere that unpasteurized milk will spoil in less than 4 hours at a temperature over 40F. Considering old refrigerators could barely maintain a temperature below the surrounding room, you didn't want milk staying around any longer than necessary. I think the bottles were quarts or possibly half-gallons.

When I was a kid in the 1950s and we had an actual milkman with actual home delivery, I remember the milk was either whole, skim, or cream. I don't recall seeing 2% milk in the supermarket until the early 1960s.
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Old 07-13-2019, 02:15 AM
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I have nothing useful to add to this discussion, so will link to a relevant TV advert that underlines the explosion in milk varieties.
  #37  
Old 07-14-2019, 07:54 AM
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When did the term "1/2 pint" first become a popular nickname?

Also, my great uncle was drinking goat milk in the 1920's because he couldn't handle cow milk. But he lived in sheep country anyway, where they had cgoats. In cattle country there weren't as many goats.
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Old 07-14-2019, 10:42 AM
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It was popularized in Laura Ingalls Wilder's* first Little House on the Prairies book, Little House in the Big Woods, in 1932. Her father called Laura his half-pint of cider, and that became her nickname.

Quote:
“(Pa) would come in from his tramp to his traps, with (icicles) on the ends of his whiskers, hang his gun over the door, throw off his coat and cap and mittens and call “Where’s my little half pint of cider half drank up?” That was me because I was so small.”
* Some historians today believe that Ingalls' daughter Rose, a professional writer, really wrote the books but realized that they would seem more authentic ascribed to her mother.
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