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The Dairy Case: 1943

December 1943. Lynn Massman, a Washington D.C. Navy wife and mother, does her marketing. View full size. Medium-format safety negative by Esther Bubley.

December 1943. Lynn Massman, a Washington D.C. Navy wife and mother, does her marketing. View full size. Medium-format safety negative by Esther Bubley.


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First shopping carts

The photos uploaded 03/01/2011 at 5:59pm are definitely of the first commercially-manufactured shopping carts, made by the Folding Carrier Co. You can find a lot more information online about Sylvan Goldman and his invention of the shopping cart in Oklahoma City. I'm trying to find photos of the first prototypes (made out of a folding chair), and more information on any wooden carts or metal folding designs slightly different than the ones in these photos. I don't have any more info on the cart pictured in the photo uploaded 01/01/2011 at 3:41pm.

Mooooor milk

I was an assistant to a milkman in the late 60's. We started at 2 AM and drove from Queens, NY, to Brooklyn, ( oddly enough, where I was born ), To load cases of milk, OJ, cream, chocolate, skim and all the other levels of cream. We carried well over 200 cases, 12 bottles to the case, and shoveled two foot of chipped ice onto the load. The ice couldn't abolish the stench of years of rancid milk, but you got used to it. The best part of the run was about 6 AM, when we would stop on Tulip ave. to swap with the Entemans bakery guy, two quarts of milk for a cheese danish. My boss, Charlie Bravata, was an old school Italian, who loved a good deal.

Add to cart

This shopping cart is smaller than the first one I posted and folds easily. Again I can find no marks to identify the manufacturer and would like to hear from anyone who can supply information.

Shopping cart

I have a shopping cart like that. Mine has no identifying marks. I have spent hours googling with no success. Can anyone help me learn the manufacturer, Please?

[Click cart for ginormous enlargement. Candidate for a frame-off restoration if I ever saw one. - Dave]

What was old is new again

We have milk and eggs delivered once a week. I love the convenience and my kids like to tell everyone online that they have milk delivered to our house. Sometimes people (especially kids their age) don't believe them.

The milkman

We had milk delivered to the door up until the mid-1970s. For years, we would get two large glass 3 quart jugs delivered just about daily. I can recall taking the cream off the top of the homogenized milk. In our cold Canadian winters, the milk would often freeze in a relatively short time and push the little cardboard tops up. Some mornings, you would find a small tower of frozen milk protruding from the bottle.

I remember one summer my brother grabbing up the two milk bottles by the plastic handles and running through the front door into the alcove where the bottles flew together and smashed... Six quarts of milk flooded the floor and went through the floorboards. You cannot imagine the smell of that milk even after Mom swilled the floor down with water and vinegar!

The dairy also delivered cheese, butter, and orange juice - including a product called "Beep", sort of an orange breakfast drink favoured by us kids. Beep is still around and is mostly flavouring and sugar, of course which is probably why we loved it.

Years later, while working in the Canadian Museum of Science and Technology, I spent a couple of weeks cataloguing and then cleaning a huge crate of horse traces and equipment covered in mold and mildew from the Clark Dairy, the same dairy that had once delivered the milk I drank as a teen.

The egg man still arrived at the door with a horse and cart up until the mid 1960s. Sadly, that lovely man was killed in the late 1960s when a car hit his truck (he had retired the horses, by then) as he was pulling out of his farm early one morning to do his regular deliveries.

The kinds of human milkness

Look at the hinges on those coolers! I can recall their distinctive sound as they were closed. I never liked "open" dairy cases -- too often they let milk spoil in the heat of the summer.

Though plastic milk jugs have become fairly standard, some local small local dairies are going back to glass. I always felt milk from a well chilled glass bottle was the most refreshing. I do understand that bottles were problematical due to their reuse and the possible attendant health risks.

My mother would never put out an empty milk bottle for the milkman that wasn't pristine. When she saw a scuzzy bottle someone had put out, she would cringe in disgust.

She would buy only unhomogenized milk. She usually poured off the cream at the top. It was a treat when she didn't, and mixed it in with the rest of the milk.

We also had a product called "table cream" that had lower butterfat content than whipping cream, but higher than the "Half & Half" available now. It does not seem to exist any longer.

When I was a kid their were a whole bunch of independent dairies to choose from.

Finally, dairy-produced eggnog just isn't the same anymore. But maybe that's just as well, if you get my drift!


I have my mother's recipes, and many of them as late as the 1950's call for "top milk" or the cream that had risen to the top. I think it was equivalent to today's light cream or maybe half and half, does anyone know?

Milk Bottles

The hourglass shaped bottles allegedly were able to separate cream from the milk in the high butterfat days, with the theory of cream rising to the top and floating on the surface of the milk.

We never had one in our house, but a rural friend of many years, said his mother would open the jug immediately after home delivery, and pour the cream into a smaller container. Not known what happened after the initial skimming. Guess it depends on how creamy your milk was!

[It's plain old gravity that makes the cream float to the top -- the heavier milk sinks to the bottom. These were called cream top bottles. - Dave]

Square milk cartons

The answer to the first question was, very carefully. I messed one up, big time, when I was about 3-4 years old, and was banished from milk carton opening until the Pure-Pak gable top became mainstream in the late 50s. It was difficult to tear the small tab without wrecking it. I seem to remember one edge was secured to the carton by a small staple. To replace, you simply pushed the now-distorted corner back into the hole, and hoped for the best.

With small children in the house, a quart size carton like that wouldn't last more than a couple days anyway, so there were few catastrophic spills.

Good Design?

The carton with the pour tab on the side (top photo) must have been a disaster. How could you pour without milk dribbling down the outside afterwards? and how to reseal it after use?

The tent top with the pour spout is a brilliant idea! It's still much in use.

I assume this is the same Ex-Cell-O Corp that makes kitchen sponges.


This could be a picture from Denmark in the early sixties. Amazing.

More Milk Cartons!

Ex-Cell-O's tent-top Pure-Pak carton came out in the late 1940s, with a tab opening on the side (top illustration below). The "new" Pure-Pak with the familiar folding spout (bottom illustration) was introduced in 1954.


That style grocery cart is making a comeback. The supermarket where I shop now sports very similar ones.

Milk Cartons

Cardboard milk cartons were available as early as 1940. The Ex-Cell-O Corp. of Detroit, Michigan was one of the pioneers in this industry, having designed the Pure-Pak carton and the machinery to make and fill the cartons. Because of its ease of use, the Pure-Pak package design became the dominant milk carton design in the USA by the late 1950s and is still used today.

Here is a description of their exhibit at the 69th Annual Meeting of the American Public Health Association that was held in Detroit, Mich. from October 6 through 11, 1940:

The Ex-Cello-O Corporation's Pure-Pak exhibit
will include a display of finished Pure-Pak singleservice
containers for milk and other dairy products,
in quart, pint, and half-pint sizes; a display
of the flat, printed cartons from which these containers
are formed by Pure-Pak equipment (as well
as filled and sealed), and the board from which
converting plants manufacture these blanks. There
will also be descriptive literature covering the
entire Pure-Pak process and the Pure-Pak
machines. [source, pg. 33]

The lady in the photo is not holding a Pure-Pak carton, which is instantly recognizable due to its tent-shaped top with the fold-out spout.

BTW, I think the awkwardness of her pose is attributable to the fact that she is holding the door to the refrigerated case open with her left hand.


Milk cartons

Cartons for milk were first used around 1905-10 but didn't become common until the 1930's. The sprout didn't come into use until the 1950's. Note that there is not a sprout on the carton she is holding.

What's wrong with Saddle Shoes?

Nothing wrong with saddle shoes? She looks quite young. The milk on the left is crying out to be personified, with a body, a head and a "hat" already there!


Yes, it looks like homogenized milk was available in paper cartons then, if my magnifying glass is helping me correctly.

The textbook definition

of an "awkward pose"

Saddle shoes? Please.

Saddle shoes? Please.

Back then shopping carts were small. Nowadays you could live in one.

Saddle shoes

I wish more women wore saddle shoes today.

Milk Cartons

I didn't know milk was available in cartons in 1943. But I like those "hourglass" bottles with the bulbous cream trap on top. Is that chocolate milk on the top shelf?

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