Other Dairy Bottles
The bottles shown on this page do not fit the common shape we are accustomed to for a conventional milk bottle however they were used for milk and dairy products. Some were early bottles, such as fruit jars, that were used prior to regular milk bottles coming into use. Some of the bottles here were used for other dairy products besides milk and had a distinctive shape.
Pictured above are a three quart fruit jars that were used for milk delivery. The jar on the left is a Cohansey jar, the one in the middle is a Crystal jar and the jar on the right is a Pet jar. Fruit jars were used early on as jars to deliver milk.
We found a paper from 1879 where a Dr. J. Cheston Morris of Westchester, Pennsylvania describes using the Cohansey jar (on the left above) in quart size to sell milk from his farm. He discusses pasting a paper label on the jar to indicate the name and address of the producer, date of shipment and quality of the milk. The quart size, like the one pictured above, as well as pints would have been used for milk and the half pint size would have held cream. In 1881 Dr. Morris patented a handle attachment for these jars. The consumer would remove the glass lid and ring that sealed the jar and then screw the patented handle on to the threads of the jar. The device would form a pouring spout on the jar and add a handle so it was easy to grab and pour from the jar.
We also came across a reference that Deerfoot Farm of Southborough, Massachusetts also used one quart Cohansey jars to deliver their milk to customers around 1880.
These jars would have been used in the late 1870's and early 1880's prior to the introduction of conventional milk bottles. The dairies using these jars would have been some of the first examples of milk and cream being sold in glass jars. We have seen these Cohansey fruit jars in pint and half pint sizes embossed with the names of dairies. Dairies that used embossed Cohansey milk jars were Echo Farm (Litchfield, Connecticut), Hampden Creamery (Everett, Massachusetts) and Deerfoot Farm (Southborough, Massachusetts).
Cohansey Glass Manufacturing Company manufactured their glass jars at a plant in Bridgeton, New Jersey while the headquarters for the company were located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They were in business from 1870 until about 1900. The lids on these jars are embossed with a July 16, 1872 and a January 18, 1876 patent dates. The 1872 patent was issued to Charles and William Imlay of Camden, New Jersey for their method of sealing jars with a glass lid held on by a metal ring. The 1876 patent was for improvements in the sealing method and showed the metal ring and threads on the glass jar as they are shown above. The 1876 patent was issued to Thomas Hipwell of Bridgeton, New Jersey and was assigned to the Cohansey Glass Manufacturing Company. The metal ring had four fingers. The two shorter fingers held the metal ring to the glass lid and the two longer fingers engaged the thread on the jar to tighten down the lid.
We also came across an article in an 1879 magazine that told of a dairy in New Jersey that was using the Crystal jar (in the middle above) to deliver milk to homes. The article said the same dairy was also using the Warren milk bottle. Unfortunately the name of the dairy was not identified. The article said that the jars used by the New Jersey dairy were fitted with a carrying handle much like the bail on a pail. We have never heard of a Crystal jar embossed with a dairy name.
The Crystal jar also used a threaded glass lid, like the Cohansey jar, however the lid had the threads molded into the glass and there was no metal anywhere on the jar. A rubber ring formed a seal between the glass lid and the mouth of the glass jar. The glass lid is embossed with a December 17, 1878 patent date. This patent was issued to Daniel Bennett of Baldwin Township, Pennsylvania for a device to manufacture glassware with internal lugs or projections like those on the inside of this fruit jar lid which engage the threads on the jar.
We came across advertisements from 1880-1882 for these Crystal milk jars. They were manufactured by the Crystal Glass Company of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and offered in quart and half gallons sizes. Daniel Bennet, who was granted the patent for this jar, was the president of the Crystal Glass Company. It appears that a special threaded glass lid was used for the milk jars that had two round glass lugs with a metal bail handle attached to them (picture). The lid used on the Crystal fruit jar did not have these lugs nor the bail handle. One complaint by dairymen was although the bail handle made it easy to carry the jar, the bail also made it difficult to pack the jars closely in shipping boxes, especially if there was a lid on the box. Although this jar used the same name as the Crystal milk jar made by the Whitall, Tatum & Company of Millville, New Jersey, we don't believe there was any connection between the two companies.
It is possible that other brands of fruit jars were used to sell milk, but the Cohansey and Crystal jars pictured here and the Putnam lightning jar discussed below, are the only ones we have found references to or seen with dairy names embossed on the jar. It was common for families living on the edge of town with one or two milk cows to sell the excess milk to their neighbors, especially during the times of the year when the cows were in peak production. Often fruit jars were used to sell milk like this. My dad remembers doing this in South Dakota when the family only had a few cows. One advantage of the fruit jars was that the wide mouth made it easy to skim off the cream and also to clean the jar.
The Pet fruit jar pictured on the right above is somewhat of a mystery. We have come across two advertisements from 1881 that advertised The Pet Glass Milk Jar or Can (one ad said can the other jar). The drawings showed a jar about as wide as tall, similar to the Lester milk jar. The ad mentioned that it was made of glass. The sealing mechanism in the drawings appeared to be the same as that used on this Pet fruit jar (picture). That mechanism was patented by Thomas Otterson of Camden, New Jersey on August 31, 1869. The ads for the milk jar were out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and guaranteed exclusive rights to this jar to only one party in a place. We also have seen an advertisement from the Lester Milk Company of Philadelphia that pictured this same jar. Interestingly the Lester Milk Company and the firm selling these jars were on the same city block in Philadelphia. We have never heard or seen this milk jar however. The drawing looks like a mix of the Lester milk jar and the Pet fruit jar. It displays the size and shape of the Lester milk jar with the wire closure of the Pet fruit jar. One possibility is that the drawing was just artistic license and the actual jar in use was the Pet fruit jar just like the one pictured on the right above. It would seem that the fruit jar would be easier to handle than a jar the shape of the Lester jar. The Pet closure was also probably lighter, less bulky and less top heavy than the closure on the Lester milk jar. It is interesting that the Lester Milk Company would abandon their own patented jar.
This is a Lightning fruit jar that was embossed for delivery of milk. The embossing in the slug plate reads:
NEW YORK DAIRY CO
The base of the jar is embossed PUTNAM 255. It has a ground lip and holds 1 and a half pints or 3/4's of a quart. The lid is embossed with three patent dates. The first is the date for the January 5, 1875 patent issued to Charles DeQuillfeldt of New York, New York for the bail style stopper used on many early bottles. The second date, June 5, 1877, was for the reissue of this first patent by DeQuillfeldt. The third date was April 25, 1882, which was issued to Henry Putnam of Bennington, Vermont. This 1882 patent was for Putnam's adaptation of the the DeQuillfeldt patent to wide mouth jars. Putnam utilized a glass lid with two bumps in the glass to center the wire bail holding down the lid rather than the metal stopper utilized in the DeQuillfeldt patent. Also in Putnam's design the glass lid was not attached to the bail like the stopper in the 1875 & 1877 patents of DeQuillfeldt.
Many references credit Alexander Campbell with being the first to bottle milk in glass jars, often referring to a date of January 11, 1878. We have not been able to substantiate that date. In fact according to Alexander Campbell's own testimony in a court case the New York Dairy Company was only formed in 1878. However a 1917 reference does credit Alexander Campbell and the New York Dairy Company with being the first to deliver milk in glass vessels and places the year at 1878. That references states that Campbell designed bottles after the fashion of beer bottles then in use but had the same size mouth of the milk bottles of today and also "lightning" or tin tops with a paper beneath the tim to prevent leakage. The reference also states the the first bottles were made by Henry Putnam on machines modified from making beer bottles.
The bottle pictured here has to date to 1882 or after due to the patent date. However the possibility exists that Alexander Campbell used a similar jar with a metal lightning closure before this. There still is some question though if the Lester milk jar discussed below would predate 1878. In 1890 the New York Dairy Company became the Alexander Campbell Milk Company and advertisements from that company credited the first glass milk bottle to Campbell. In fact one advertisement from 1915 stated that 37 years prior the company had placed the first glass milk bottle on the market. That would place the date at 1878.
Another style of bottle that was used to sell milk in the late 1870's and 1880's was more typical of beer and soda bottles. Clear glass was utilized instead of amber (these bottles were clear and have turned purple due to the effects of UV light) and the bottles used the Lightning closure just like on beer and soda bottles of the period. The Lightning closure on the bottle to the left was patented by Charles DeQuillfeldt of New York, New York on January 5, 1875 and the patent was reissued with improvements on June 5, 1877. DeQuillfeldt assigned the 1877 reissued patent to Karl Hutter of New York. Hutter improved upon the design and replaced the metal top with a tapered, porcelain plug with a rubber washer on the base that sealed the bottle. Karl Hutter was granted patents on February 7, 1893, June 16, 1896 and April 13, 1897 for variations of his closure.
These bottles had narrow mouths unlike later milk bottles and often contained sterilized milk. Some of these bottles can be found embossed with dairy names. Three that we have come across are the Chicago Sterilized Milk Company of Chicago, Illinois, The Farm & Dairy Product Company and the American Pure Milk Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania which is pictured here. American Pure Milk Company bottles were embossed Eversweet Milk. The bottles from the Chicago Sterilized Milk Company were shaped more like a whiskey bottle with a longer neck. The bottle from the Farm & Dairy Product Company was embossed BROOKE on the base which stood for John B. Brooke, an early dealer in milk bottles.
The patent drawing shown above is of the Lester milk jar. It was patented on January 29, 1878 by George Lester of Brooklyn, New York and used by his business, the Lester Milk Company. Most people consider this the first glass jar specifically designed to hold milk. It had a lid that was held in place by a yoke that engaged the base of the jar and a screw that pushed down on the lid. This patent was actually the third in a series of patents granted to the Lester family.
The first patent was granted to George's father, John Lester, on November 16, 1875. His idea was to design a milk can where the milk was held under pressure with all the air in the can removed. This would keep the milk from churning during transport. That can had a bail connected at the neck of the jar which also had a screw to push down on the lid. The lid had two valves. One was used to put milk in the can and the other let the air escape as the can was filled. When milk escaped from the air valve it would be closed and then the fill valve would be closed. It would seem that filling any quantity of these cans would be very slow and messy, having to connect to the valves and having milk escape from the air valve.
On October 9, 1877 George Lester patented an improved milk can based on his father's idea. This was also a metal can with a yoke that engaged on the lip of the can and a screw to hold down the lid. The valves were eliminated. The can was filled full and as the lid was clamped down the air was excluded and the milk placed under pressure. There also was a provision to accommodate expansion and contraction of the milk if the temperature varied.
In his January 29, 1878 patent George Lester mentions the problems with the previous jar. Since the can was metal and often consumers did not clean the cans well there were corrosion problems with the tin. Making the can out of glass solved this problem. Also attaching the sealing yoke to the neck of the can did not allow enough force to be applied to the lid to prevent leakage and entry of air into the can. To solve this problem George Lester had the sealing yoke engage the base of the glass jar to be able to exert more pressure.
Reading the patents, Lester indicates that the metal cans were used to deliver milk to consumers. In March of 1879 George Lester spoke before the College of Physicians in Philadelphia and described the use of his milk can in New York and Brooklyn. He displayed a glass jar (peculiar was the term they used) and said that the plan of delivering milk in sealed containers to consumers each morning had been in place for three years. He did not mention if the glass jar was used all three years or if the metal cans were used previously. Interestingly in both his talk and his patent papers, Lester used the term milk can rather than milk jar even when discussing the glass jar. He stated that the jars came in one and two quart capacities and that having the milk held under pressure in the jar improved the rise of the cream. Advantages of the wide mouth jar, mentioned in Lester's patent, were that it was easier for the consumer to access the cream and the jar was easily cleaned. The Lester Milk Company advertised milk put up under pressure in hermetically sealed glass jars in New York newspapers in January of 1979. The address listed in those ads was the same as the embossing on the jars. In April of 1879 the Lester Milk Company started using this jar to deliver milk in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
We have not found any references that this milk jar was used by dairies other than those supplying the Lester Milk Company. We did come across references where dairymen commented they did not like these milk jars because they were difficult to clean since they had so many separate parts. Also they were very heavy and expensive compared to the Warren milk jar that was also available at that time. Click here for a picture of a half gallon Lester milk jar and its lid with a pint Warren milk jar between them.
We have only seen two examples of this jar and they have the L M Co monogram of the Lester Milk Company on one side of the jar and are embossed DEPOT 68 WEST 34TH ST NY on the other side of the jar. The lid and the base of the jars are embossed with all three of the patent dates discussed above. The jar bases are also embossed LESTER MILK CO and the jar lids have the initials L M CO. In addition the jar lid and base have a fourth date of July 7, 1868. This date is a mystery. It would seem to be an additional patent date, earlier than the three granted to the Lesters. The only patent we can find on this date that might relate was granted to David Shaw of Baltimore, Maryland. It was for an air tight milk can with many of the same ideas as the Lester milk jars, especially excluding air to prevent churning during transportation. However we can find no connection between Shaw and the Lesters.
In addition the base of the jars are embossed Housatonic R R. We know that the Lester Milk Company received milk from the New Milford Creamery in New Milford, Connecticut. When describing his jars George Lester indicated it was important for the milk to immediately be placed in the jar after removal from the cow and then the jar packed in ice and cooled. This would mean that the jars would have been filled in New Milford and then shipped to the Lester Milk Company in New York. We have found a reference confirming that the New Milford Creamery shipped milk in glass cans to the Lester Milk Company. The Housatonic Railroad passed through New Milford, Connecticut and had milk trains dedicated to delivering milk to the city. Presumably George Lester embossed his milk jars with the name of the railroad that was transporting his milk.
Click here to go to the page that discusses the Warren milk jar.
In the late 1800's and early 1900's screw top jars were used to sell cream. A. G. Smalley sold a straight sided cream jar and the jars pictured here were a product of the Flaccus Glass Company. Both pictured jars are half pint and have the FL Mass. seal of the Flaccus Glass Company. Both are embossed THIS JAR NOT SOLD PLEASE RETURN and REGISTERED. The jar on the left is from Deerfoot Farm and it is embossed on the base PAT. APLD. FOR. We have never found a patent that was issued for these jars however. The jar on the right is from Alden Bros. and it is also embossed HEAVY CREAM.
One problem with these jars was that the metal lids were expensive and they were often not returned with the jar. These jars are usually very crude, with a lot of bubbles and straw marks in the glass but most of them are early machine made bottles.
Wide mouth dairy bottles were used for cottage cheese, sour cream and yogurt. Some dairies also sold salad dressings. These bottles are found both embossed, like the ones pictured here, and pyroglazed (picture). The only patented design of these bottles was the jar on the far right. It was called the Thrift Jar and was sold by the Ohio Creamery Supply Company of Cleveland, Ohio. The inventor of this dairy jar was Philip Arnold of Cleveland, Ohio who was granted a design patent on July 8, 1941. They also came in 12 ounce and pint sizes as well as pyroglazed versions. Most dairy jars of this style will be from Ohio dairies. We believe that Lamb Glass Company was the only company to manufacture this style of jar.
Dairy bottles left to right:
Tumbling Run Park Dairy - J. H. Brokhoff, pint, Pottsville, Pennsylvania, Owens-Illinois, 1954
Generic Cottage Cheese, 12 ounces, no location, Thatcher Manufacturing Co., 1936
Golden State Company LTD., half pint, California, Owens-Illinois 1936
Otto's, half pint, Sandusky, Ohio, Lamb Glass Company, post 1941
Off page dairy jars left to right:
Alta Dena Dairy, pint, City of Industry, California, Liberty Glass Co., 1961
Dairy Distributers Inc., quart, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Owens-Illinois, 1943
Pictured above are two chocolate milk bottles. Chocolate milks became popular in the 1920's and 1930's. Dairies looked at them as a way to increase sales. It was felt that chocolate milk competed better with coffee, tea and carbonated drinks in restaurants, cafeterias and factories. For sure it was a popular but controversial item with young children. Dairymen also liked it because the chocolate syrup was mixed with skim milk which was usually a surplus item in creameries. Chocolate milk did not use any of the cream which could then be used for butter, table cream or ice cream. This is why its use was controversial with children. Since it was missing the cream many educators considered it a less nutritious product than whole milk. Some chocolate syrup companies combated this by fortifying their product with added B vitamins. One other big issue with chocolate syrups was the ease of mixing and the ability for the chocolate to not settle out of the milk. If there was a dark layer at the bottom of the bottle this was less appealing to the consumer.
The first bottle pictured above is a 7 ounce bottle for KayO Chocolate Drink. Often the chocolate milk bottles were under size. A half pint bottle is 8 ounces. Chocolate milk bottles looked like a half pint but the customer was really shorted an ounce or a little over 12%. Saying it another way the dairymen charged a little over 12% extra. This bottle has a slug plate on the other side for the Home Milk Company of Sacramento, California. KayO was marketed by the Chocolate Products Company of Chicago, Illinois and advertised that they used real chocolate to flavor the milk. The bottle was made by Illinois Pacific Glass and dates prior to 1930.
The second bottle pictured above is a "400" bottle. The bottle is also embossed "The only fresh chocolated milk with rico flavor". "400" was a franchised product that was introduced by Walter Jahn in the early 1920's. The dairy was required to purchase the chocolate syrup and the bottles from the "400" Products Company of Chicago, Illinois. There was no franchise fee and the "400" Products Company handled the advertising for the product. The price to be charged for the 7 ounce bottle was 5 cents. The brand did not last long. By 1925 the formula was sold to the Dairy Drink Company, also from Chicago, and was called Chocolated Dairy Drink. This bottle is not in any way related to the train that also used the 400 name. We have seen this bottle sell on ebay as a railroad collectible and for sure the product was not unique to the railroad. It possibly was served on trains but it was also available to all dairymen and was not exclusive to any train. The bottles were made by the Atlantic Bottle Company of Brakenridge, Pennsylvania and would date prior to 1930.
Other chocolate milk syrups that were available included:
Krem-Ko, Chicago, Illinois
Choc-o-lishus, Norfolk, Virginia
Drinkmor, Chicago, Illinois
Stillicious, Chicago, Illinois
Eze-Choclat, Chicago, Illinois
Krim-Ko, Chicago, Illinois
It is interesting that the majority of these companies were based in Chicago.
Most dairies also sold fruit juices. Typically these were not sold in the regular milk bottles but rather in specially designed bottles. Usually the surface of the bottle was textured rather than clear. These bottles can be embossed or pyroglazed. The half pint bottle in the center is embossed PAT. PNDG. on the base.
Juice bottles left to right:
Spreckels Russell Dairy Co., quart, San Francisco, California, Owens-Illinois, 1940
Bell-Brook, half pint, San Francisco, California, maker and date unknown
Arden, quart, Los Angeles, California, Owens-Illinois, 1941
Condensed milk was milk that had a portion of the water removed. It had a longer shelf life than regular milk. It was often sold in jars rather than bottles. Pictured above is a condensed milk jar with a screw type lid as well as a jar with a glass bail type lid similar to a fruit jar. The jar on the left with the screw type lid carries a patent date of May 15, 1894. This patent was issued to Frederick Smith of San Francisco, California concerning the method and apparatus for preserving condensed milk. His method allowed the condensed milk to be filled into the jars cold and then a paper diaphragm of waxed or greased paper was laid across the surface of the milk and then the lid was screwed on. This method excluded the air from the condensed milk to preserve it but did not require the milk to be heated in the jar, as one would do when canning preserves.
Condensed milk jars left to right:
American Condensed Milk Co., pint, San Francisco, California, maker unknown, pre-1920
Marvel Brand, 6 ounce, Danville, Illinois, Kearns, Gorsuch Bottle Co., pre-1937
These are Mojonnier composite sample bottles. They were used to hold milk samples. Composite milk samples were taken over several days to save having to run tests every day. Dairymen were paid on the amount of fat in their milk. Creameries took a sample of a dairyman's milk and tested it for the fat content and then paid them based on the results of that test. The Mojonnier composite sample bottles were used for these samples and are quite common. The design was patented on April 5, 1921 by Julius John Mojonnier of Oak Park, Illinois and he assigned the patent to Mojonnier Bros. Company of Chicago, Illinois. The original bottles, like the one pictured on the right, had a rubber stopper held on by a non rusting, metal chain. It was important that the bottle seal tightly because if any water evaporated the fat test would be artificially increased. That would be good for the dairymen but the creamery would not be too happy about it. Later the chain was dropped and the rubber cork was held to the bottle by a rubber strap. The last version, pictured on the left, had a cap that also covered the pouring lip of the bottle. This was to protect the sample from picking up bacteria from the lip of the bottle. Sampling the milk to test for bacteria was also another use for these bottles.
The bottles all have the Mojonnier shield and will usually have the April 5, 1921 patent date or the patent number of 57479. The bottles pictured here are half pint in size and are the most common. They were also sold in pint and quarter pint sizes. The size one needed was determined by how many days of milk was in the sample. Quarter pint bottles were for a 7 day composite, half pint for a 15 day and the pint size was for a 30 day sample. The pint size is not very common, that was a very large sample. The early bottles will often have a metal tag around the bottle neck to indicate the sample number and often the corks will be painted with a corresponding number. The later bottles will have a frosted area on the glass to write a sample number. Both of these bottles were manufactured by Owens-Illinois. In a 1939 dairy catalog these Mojonnier bottles were priced at 14, 16 and 18 cents for the quarter pint, half pint and pint.
Click here to go to the page that discusses the Babcock test for milk fat.
When one thinks of dairy products the most common would be cow's milk, however milk from other animals was also used for human consumption. Goat milk was one dairy product that was also sold in glass bottles. Not near as common as cow milk bottles, goat milk bottles can be found in round and square shapes as well as embossed and pyroglazed styles. Some people that have trouble digesting cows milk prefer milk from goats. The bottle on the left is from a goat dairy.
A little more unusual would be mare's (horse) milk. The three bottles on the right are labeled SIPHON KUMYSGEN BOTTLE FOR PREPARING KUMYSS FROM KUMYSGEN. The manufacturer on these bottles is embossed as REED & CARNRICK, N.Y. The cobalt blue bottle has a line about an inch from the bottom labeled POWDER MARK and a line at the shoulder labeled WATER MARK. The larger aqua bottle has a similar line an inch from the bottom but with no embossing. The smaller aqua bottle has a line embossed at the shoulder of the bottle labeled USE 7 TABLETS FILL TO THIS LINE. These bottles were made in a hinged bottom mold and are very crude glass. The tops are hand finished. The larger aqua bottle has its original bail closure. These bottles probably were made in the late 1800's. We have seen them in cobalt blue and an aqua color like these as well as amber glass. The cobalt bottles usually have a larger mouth opening than the aqua bottles.
Kumyss (sometimes spelled koumiss in the medical journals) was a fermented drink popular in central Asia made from mare's milk. It reportedly was mildly alcoholic. Kumysgen, as advertised by Reed & Carnrick, was a dried preparation of kumyss. It was available as a powder or tablets. Water was added to the bottle and the bottle was shaken to reconstitute the powder or tablets. Reed & Carnrick were pharmacists and this was a nutritional drink used by doctors. It was commonly advertised in medical journals and other publications of the late 1800's (picture). Reed & Carnrick claimed it would aid gastric and intestinal indigestion or dyspepsia, pulmonary consumption, constipation, gastric and intestinal catarrh, fevers, anemia, chlorosis, rickets, scrofula, vomiting in pregnancy, Bright's disease, intestinal ailments of infants and cholera infantum. It was recommended for young children and convalescents from all diseases. It was described to be a product of pure, sweet milk (we assume they used cow's milk). Since it was a fermented product many of the nutritional components in the milk had been broken down by the bacteria during the fermentation making it an easier product for patients to digest. The advantage of the powder and tablets sold by Reed & Carnrick was that it made the product stable. Since freshly made kumyss had active bacteria in it, the product had a very short shelf life and spoiled quickly.
Milking cows is a tough job but we cannot imagine milking a horse. We were told that the foal was allowed to suckle to get the mare started milking and then as the foal was slowly removed the milking was finished by hand. At least they only had to deal with two teats instead of four. Mare's milk is lower in fat and protein than cow's milk but the sugars are higher. These sugars would make mare's milk more suitable to fermentation. When cow's milk is used for kumyss, sugars are usually added to aid the fermentation.
Milk bottles left to right:
Dingley Dell Goat Dairy, half pint, Stepney, Connecticut, Thatcher Manufacturing Co.
Siphon Kumysgen, Reed & Carnrick, approx 22 ounces, New York, manufacturer unknown, late 1800's
Siphon Kumysgen, Reed & Carnrick, approx 22 ounces, New York, manufacturer unknown, late 1800's
Siphon Kumysgen, Reed & Carnrick, approx 10 ounces, New York, manufacturer unknown, late 1800's
Another type of dairy product used in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s were milk modifiers. These were primarily designed to make cow’s milk easier to digest for invalids or to make cow’s milk more like human breast milk for infants after weaning or if mother’s milk was not available. There were two broad groups; those that did not contain milk but were designed to be added to cow’s milk and those that did contain milk and were intended to be added to water. The first group was probably better from a nutritional perspective since they usually contained more milk however milk was not always available or it’s quality could be suspect especially for infants or invalids.
The jars above would be examples of the second group that did contain milk. All of them contained malted forms of milk. Nowadays people think of malted milk as something in a milk shake but originally it was a nutritional product. As the name implies it was primarily a mixture of dried milk and the extract of malted grain. When grain is malted it is allowed to germinate and in the process enzymes are released that convert the starch in the grain into simpler sugars that are easier to digest. These enzymes could also act on the proteins and sugars in the milk to break them down and make them easier to digest. Maltose was the main sugar produced in malting and hence the name.
James and William Horlick, originally from Chicago, Illinois and later from Racine, Wisconsin, were granted a patent on May 18, 1875 for a malted product that contained no milk but was intended to be added to milk. This product was known as Horlick's Diastoid. Eight years later, on June 5, 1883 William Horlick was granted a patent for what would become known as Horlick’s Malted Milk. This time their product also contained cow's milk and was claimed to be useful in the nutrition of infants and invalids. The powdered formula only needed to be added to water. William Horlick also produced his malted milk in a tablet form for which he received a patent on July 6, 1897. This product is still sold today.
Many other manufacturers produced forms of malted milk. The first jar on the left above contained Borden’s Malted Milk. We have seen references for this product back to the late 1800’s. The second jar contained Horlick’s malted milk, discussed above. One of the most interesting manufacturers of malted milk was the Coors Brewing Company of Golden, Colorado. During prohibition they converted their brewery to producing a malted milk product when alcohol was illegal (picture).
The third, amber jar contained Cereal Milk. This product was manufactured by Wells Richardson & Company of Burlington, Vermont and was advertised to contain the purest Vermont dairy milk, the finest wheat-gluten flour, the best barley malt and milk sugar. Cereal Milk was advertised in the early 1900’s and this jar has a ground lip and would date to that period.
The last jar on the right held Wampole’s Milk Food. It’s makers, Henry K. Wampole & Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, claimed it contained malted cereals, beef and milk. Company advertisements claimed “There is nothing in it that is not found in mother’s milk; there is nothing in mother’s milk that is not found in Wampole’s Milk Food”. A 1901 medical paper claimed it was the ideal preparation for the nourishment of persons undergoing treatment for opium or morphine addiction. One wonders how big a market that was.
In the late 1800's there was a real problem with finding high quality milk for babies. Many infant deaths were caused by digestive diseases. In 1893 Nathan Straus established milk depots in New York City to supply pasteurized, high quality milk for babies. Nathan Straus was one of the founders of Macy's department stores. He acquired high quality, certified milk and then further reduced the bacteria by pasteurizing that milk at 157 degrees for 20 minutes. At one point there were 8 milk stations in the winter and 18 in the summer. The increase being due to the hotter weather in the summer. Their goal was to sell the milk within 24 hours of pasteurization. In 1893, the first full year, they sold 34,400 bottles of milk. In 1908 the sales had peaked at 4,167,675 bottles. From 1893 to 1916 they sold 42.8 million bottles of milk and also served 24 million glasses of milk to customers. The milk was sold well below cost and if a mother could not afford to pay for the milk physicians were given coupons for free milk. The cost to feed a baby through the Straus milk stations amounted to 6 to 12 cents per day. Eight ounce glasses of milk were sold in the summer for 1 cent.
The bottle pictured above was used for the babies milk. It had a lever type top that held a porcelain stopper and rubber gasket in place. The porcelain stopper had "Nathan Straus" printed in red. The lever was not attached to the bottle but wedged against a glass ridge on the bottle. The stopper was designed to be removed and replaced by the nipple. The Baby was fed right out of this bottle. The bottle was designed with a round bottom so that it could not be set down unless the bottle was capped or else it would leak. This was to prevent contamination of the milk. The bottles came in 3, 6, 8 and 16 ounce sizes. The smaller sizes were for younger children that needed to eat lesser amounts but more often. The larger sizes were for older children. This bottle is embossed "NATHAN STRAUS PASTEURIZED MILK" on the front of the bottle and the back has graduations from 1 to 8 ounces. In 1912 the 16 ounce bottle had a 3 cent deposit, the 6 and 8 ounce bottles had a 2 cent deposit and the 3 ounce bottle had a 1 cent deposit. The stoppers carried a 2 cent deposit.
In addition to pure milk, the Straus milk stations also offered various formulas that were popular with physicians at the time. Some of these contained barley water, oat water, lime water, cream and sugar in addition to the milk.
Nathan Straus was one of the main forces behind compulsory pasteurization laws for milk that would soon be adopted by many cities across the United States.
Here is an interesting bottle used for milk delivery. This is an order card for a customer to request delivery of sterilized milk in siphon bottles. Siphon bottles were more commonly associated with soda or seltzer water, not with milk. However the Brooklyn Sterilized Milk Company, which was incorporated on November 11, 1898, tried this as a way to deliver there sterilized milk in a sanitary fashion. On March 29, 1902 the Brooklyn Sterilized Milk Company announced in local newspapers that it would change it's name to the Siphon Milk Company.
The was some merit to the idea. In a normal bottle of milk every time the cap was removed bacteria in the air could enter the bottle and gain access to the milk. Since the siphon bottle was pressurized with gas, air movement would always be from inside the bottle to the outside and bacteria could not enter the bottle and get in the milk. The carbon dioxide gas also would inhibit bacterial growth. The claim was made that the milk stayed fresher for a longer period of time and the first milk drawn from the bottle was just as good as the last. On the down side the siphon bottles were more expensive and more difficult to clean.