The Renaissance of the Glass Milk Bottle

The Renaissance of the Glass Milk Bottle

Not being a strict conservationist, I do not claim that my affinity to glass bottles comes from the desire to conserve the environment. I am, however, sensitive to the difference in taste when a drink such as soda, juice and milk is stored in a glass bottle rather than a plastic disposable one. Although the soda and seltzer man are a relic of the past, the milkman is making a comeback. For those folks not old enough to neither recall the seltzer, soda or milkman let’s take a trip down memory lane. 

Beginning in the late 1700’s most families took their milk from their own personal cow. You always knew your milk was fresh since you knew exactly when your family cow was milked, and she had to be milked regularly or the family would hear from her in a forceful way. Refrigeration of milk was not yet around so you could not store your milk for any prolonged period and in times of war or poverty selling the family cow meant that the family would be without milk. 

Once the industrial revolution began and people began moving from the country to smaller dwellings in the cities it was no longer practical to keep a cow at home. People began buying their milk from the local dairy farmers and the very first home deliveries of milk started in Vermont in 1785. 

At that time the milkman would appear at your door carrying a metal barrel full of milk. Whatever type of containers were available in the house were brought to the milkman who would fill them up and then the buyer would pay accordingly. This happened each day until refrigeration came on the scene. 

The Lester Milk Jar 

The first glass milk bottle was patented in 1878 and was called the Lester Milk Jar which was a capless jar. This jar was used for about five years until a man by the name of Henry D. Thatcher designed an improved version of the glass bottle with a cap. Instead of the milkmen lugging heavy metal barrels full of milk they were able to ease their deliveries with glass bottles and the farmers could measure out exactly what the customers needed to pay. 

The Introduction of Refrigeration and the Decline of the Milkman 

It became common for homes to have some type of refrigeration by the 1930’s and 1940’s in America and the milkman no longer had to come each day since the milk could stay fresh. As people began moving to the suburbs after World War II, the milkman would have to go to the farm to pick up the milk and then travel longer distances to keep up with their individual routes.

During this period, grocery stores were popping up making it much simpler for folks to buy their necessities in one local. Some people even owned cars which made them quite independent of the local milkman. 

The Emergence of Wax Paper Milk Cartons and Plastic Milk Containers

Usually, a milk bottle would be used over 20 times in the early 1900’s before it would break, and many would have the name of the farm embossed in the glass giving the bottle the look of quality that is so popular today. Like all other glass return bottles of the past, some of these bottles got lost and were not returned by the consumer in a timely fashion giving way to a disposable type of milk container. These issues led to the development of single use containers such as wax paper cartons and plastic containers in square shapes which took up less room in the milk truck. By the 1950’s, “gable loops” that turned into a spout on opening became popular and almost all milk sold in the United States was sold in square plastic cartons. (Although this writer does remember getting our family’s milk delivered in glass bottles by the milkman into the late 1950’s.) 

The Comeback of the Milkman 

Yes, believe or not that friendly strong guy is back delivering milk to many homes once again. In fact, The New York Times called this resurgence, “a milkman renaissance”. Of course, there are many differences between today’s milkmen and those of the past. Manhattan Milk Company is such a company who has contracts with several dairy farms in specified areas and other companies such as, Top O’ The Morn Farms, situated in California have their own delivery trucks. 

In the past, customers would have to make paying arrangements with their milkman such as leaving the cash in the outside milk box but today customers can order online, pay, update, or cancel orders easily. Especially during the Covid epidemic when folks were afraid to leave their homes, milk delivery became a necessity. Even with COVID-19 no longer a threat, people like the idea of knowing exactly which farm their milk is coming from and knowing that the milk was not sitting on the supermarket shelf indefinitely. With certain milk companies you can receive the milk a mere twenty-four hours from when it was milked from the cow. 

The best part of the milk delivery renaissance is the comeback of glass milk bottles. Glass is guaranteed not only to keep the milk fresher longer, but the taste is so much better than milk from plastic or wax containers. 

Glass Bottles are Better for the Environment 

If your milk is stored in a quality strong glass bottle, the bottle can be used over and over again with state-of-the-art sterilizing in specialty plants. By keeping your milk in glass bottles, you become part of the growing recycling community helping to cut down on waste from landfills.

Sometimes, a consumer has to sacrifice quality for the color green and many of us are not that environmentally conscious, however, even if you do buy your milk at your local grocery or supermarket you can still bank on good tasting and longer lasting milk by transferring the milk into clean and beautiful glass milk bottles that will show up beautifully from fridge to table. 

Glass Milk Bottles are not Only for Milk 

What do coconut, almond, oat, cashew, and soy have in common? These are all newer takes on the craze of some vegans or other folks who are sensitive or allergic to cow’s milk. Families with multiple milk and milk substitute preferences can have an array of different containers stocked in their refrigerators. Wouldn’t it be lovely if there could be consistency among the differences in tastes? Glass milk bottles come in quite a few sizes ranging from twelve ounce to sixty-four-ounce sizes. With pretty labels attached to them, your refrigerator will be a pleasure to open, and chances are that the shelf lives of your milk and milk substitutes will be extended. 

I have not tried this experiment, but you can. Buy two quarts of the same milk and keep one in the store container and pour the other quart into a clear clean glass quart size milk bottle and see which one stays fresher. There must be a reason why people are preferring their milk in glass rather than plastic other than for environmental purposes. 

Smoothies Taste Best From Glass Bottles 

Folks are experimenting with different concoctions made with vegan milk, vegetables, and fruits, sometimes combining all three to make healthy meals full of vitamins to drink. Smoothies are a cross between a shake and a thick blended drink usually pureed in a blender or a special smoothie apparatus. 

There are traditionally three parts to a smoothie, the base which is a liquid, fruits, vegetables or both and ice. Some people who want it really cold opt for the great array of frozen fruit and vegetables in their local supermarket freezer which are especially designed to be used to make smoothies. Some people who want to be assured of the full health benefits will add vitamin supplements and protein powders. 

How thick should the smoothie be? Depending on if you want to eat or drink your smoothie the consistency will be thinner or thicker. It all depends on the amount of liquid that is added. Adding more fruits and vegetables will thicken it while milk, juice and even water (for those who are calorie conscious) will dilute the drink substantially. 

Smoothies can be decorated with sliced fruits such as strawberries and chopped nuts. Keep the sizes small so they won’t sink to the bottom. The last step of the smoothie is finding the right container to store it in and drink it from. A twelve- or sixteen-ounce glass milk bottle with a lid (lids come in plastic, metal or pouring spouts) is the perfect receptacle for your recipe since you can drink it straight on after making it or pour your smoothie into the milk bottle, twist the spill proof lid and save it for later. Just give it a shake before drinking and by filling a few bottles at a time you can have a treat or meal ready when you are. 

Final Words 

If you haven’t tried storing your milk or mixed drinks such as smoothies in glass milk bottles please give them a taste, you will be so glad you did.

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