Milk delivery

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An Indian milkman on his motorbike MilkManCrop.JPG
An Indian milkman on his motorbike

Milk delivery is a delivery service dedicated to supplying milk. This service typically delivers milk in bottles or cartons directly to customers' homes. This service is performed by a milkman, milkwoman, or milk deliverer. (In contrast, a cowman or milkmaid tends to cows.)



Milk delivery door - exterior.jpg
Milk delivery door - interior.jpg
A 1920s apartment milk delivery door, from outside and from inside.

In some countries, when a lack of good refrigeration meant that milk would quickly spoil, milk was delivered to houses daily. Before milk bottles were available, milkmen took churns on their rounds and filled the customers' jugs by dipping a measure into the churn. Due to improved packaging and the introduction of more refrigerators and cooling appliances in private homes, the need for milk delivery has decreased over the past half-century. These advances contributed to the decline or loss of services in many localities, from daily deliveries to just three days a week or less in others.

Milk deliveries frequently occur in the morning. It is also common for milkmen and milkwomen to deliver products other than milk, including butter, cream, cheese, eggs, meat and vegetables. [1]

In some areas, apartments and houses have small milk-delivery doors. These are small wooden cabinets inside the residence, built into the exterior wall, with doors on both sides that are latched but not locked, to allow groceries or milk to be placed inside the box when delivered and when collected by the resident.[ citation needed ]


A milk float Milk float - Liverpool (modified background).jpg
A milk float

Horse-drawn vehicles were originally used for local delivery from the inception of the first milk round around 1860. These were still seen in Britain in the 1950s and parts of the United States until the 1960s. Now, motorized vehicles are used.[ citation needed ] First introduced in 1889, battery vehicles saw expanded use in 1931 and by 1967 had given Britain the largest electric vehicle fleet in the world.

Around the world


In 1963, nearly 29.7 percent of consumers in the US had milk delivered, but by 1975, the number had dropped to 6.9 percent of total sales. [2]

In 2005, about 0.4% of consumers in the United States had their milk delivered, and a handful of newer companies had sprung up to offer the service. [2] Some U.S. dairies have been delivering milk for about 100 years, with interest continuing to increase in the 2010s as part of the local food movement. [3] During the 2020 coronavirus outbreak, some remaining milkmen saw demand increase suddenly (similar to other grocery delivery services) due to concerns about the infection risk involved with shopping in stores. [4] [5]


In India, those delivering milk usually use milk churns, a practice that has ceased in western countries. On the road, they are put on any kind of vehicle. In big cities such as Mumbai, milk churns are often transported in luggage compartments in local trains.

In the Philippines, the milkman or milkmaid is called lechero. The tradition stemmed from the community production of carabao milk, which the lechero delivers fresh to his or her designated barangay (village). The lechero heritage used to be widely practiced in the country but declined after the introduction of store-bought milk during the American-occupation period. Nowadays, only a few communities have lecheros, notably in Nueva Ecija province, the milk capital of the Philippines. [6]


In Australia, the delivery vehicle was usually a small petrol or diesel truck with a covered milk-tray. In hotter areas, this tray is usually insulated.[ citation needed ]


Dutch milkman in Haarlem, 1956 Melkboer.jpg
Dutch milkman in Haarlem, 1956

Milkmen appeared in Britain around 1860, when the first railways allowed fresh milk to arrive in cities from the countryside. [7] By 1880, the milk was delivered in bottles. [8] By 1975, 94% of milk was in glass bottles, but in 1990, supermarkets started offering plastic and carton containers, reducing bottled milk from 94% to 3% by 2016. [7] In the 20th century, milk delivery in urban areas of Europe has been carried out from an electric vehicle called a milk float.

Cultural impact

The comedy films The Milkman (1950) starring Donald O'Connor, and The Early Bird (1965), starring Norman Wisdom, portrayed the profession in the US and UK respectively.

Tevye the Dairyman (Tevye der milkhiker) is the fictional pious Jewish narrator and protagonist of a series of short stories by Sholem Aleichem, and various adaptations of them, the most famous being the stage/film musical Fiddler on the Roof .

Stephen King's short story "Morning Deliveries (Milkman No. 1)" (in the horror anthology Skeleton Crew (1985)), concerns a milkman who kills people by leaving "surprises" (including poison, toxic gas, and venomous spiders) in their milk cans.

The title of the pop hit "No Milk Today" (1966) by the British band Herman's Hermits refers to a common notice instructing the milkperson not to leave the usual order of milk on a particular day. In the song, this symbolizes the singer's recent breakup with his love interest who has just moved out of his house. [9]

The British comedian Benny Hill, himself a former milkman, had a hit novelty song called "Ernie (The Fastest Milkman In The West)" (1971).

Ella Mae Morse had a US top 10 hit with "Milkman, Keep Those Bottles Quiet", from the film Broadway Rhythm (1944).

The (unnamed) milkwoman was an occasional character in British sitcom Open All Hours , the object of Granville's desire. Despite working early mornings just as Granville did, she was also a part-time university student and a divorcee, representing aspirations of a life lived beyond the terraced streets of the local neighborhood.

Episode 3 of the third series of television comedy series Father Ted is entitled Speed 3 and centers around the lascivious behavior of milkman Pat Mustard, Ted's feud with him, and the tragic outcome.

In Raymond Briggs' graphic novel Ethel and Ernest , based on the true story of Mr. Briggs' parents, Ernest Briggs (Raymond's father) is described as being a milkman for the R.A.C.S .

See also

Related Research Articles

Milk White liquid produced by the mammary glands of mammals

Milk is a nutrient-rich liquid food produced by the mammary glands of mammals. It is the primary source of nutrition for young mammals, including breastfed human infants before they are able to digest solid food. Early-lactation milk is called colostrum, which contains antibodies that strengthen the immune system and thus reduces the risk of many diseases. It holds many other nutrients, including protein and lactose. Interspecies consumption of milk is not uncommon, particularly among humans, many of whom consume the milk of other mammals.

Milk float Vehicle for delivering milk

A milk float is a vehicle specifically designed for the delivery of fresh milk. Today, milk floats are usually battery electric vehicles (BEV), but they were formerly horse-drawn. They were once common in many European countries, particularly the United Kingdom, and were operated by local dairies. However, in recent years, as the number of supermarkets, small independent grocers and petrol stations, and convenience stores stocking fresh milk has increased, many people have switched from regular home delivery to obtaining fresh milk from these other sources.


A carton is a box or container usually made of liquid packaging board, paperboard and sometimes of corrugated fiberboard. Many types of cartons are used in packaging. Sometimes a carton is also called a box.

Delivery (commerce) Process of transporting goods from a source location to a predefined destination

Delivery is the process of transporting goods from a source location to a predefined destination. Cargo is primarily delivered via roads and railroads on land, shipping lanes on the sea, and airline networks in the air. Certain types of goods may be delivered via specialized networks, such as pipelines for liquid goods, power grids for electrical power and computer networks such as the Internet or broadcast networks for electronic information. Car transport is a particular subgroup; a related variant is Autorack, which involves transport of autos by railroads.

Glass milk bottle

Glass milk bottles are glass bottles used for milk and are generally reusable and returnable. Milk bottles are used mainly for doorstep delivery of fresh milk by milkmen: retail store sale is available in some regions. After customers have finished the milk they are expected to rinse the empty bottles and leave it on the doorstep for collection, or return it to the retail store. The standard size of a bottle varies with location, common sizes are pint, quart, Litre, etc.

In English-speaking culture, a milkman joke is a joke cycle exploiting fear of adultery and mistaken paternity. This class of jokes has its roots in the early part of the 20th century, prior to the regular availability of milk in supermarkets. At that time, milk in glass bottles was delivered directly to customers' houses by milkmen, generally in the morning. Men were commonly the main financial supporters of their families, and a man's wife tended to remain at home to care for their children and home. As the milkman would visit the home at a time when the husband would be away at work, this created an opportune situation for adultery.

Vitasoy Beverage brand

Vitasoy is a Hong Kong beverage company. It hosts a brand of beverages and desserts named Vita. Founded in 1940, it now operates under the Vitasoy International Holdings Limited. Its headquarters are in Tuen Mun, New Territories, Hong Kong.

St. Cuthberts Co-operative Society Former consumer co-operative in Scotland

The St. Cuthbert's Co-operative Society was a consumers' co-operative in Scotland. Taking its name from St Cuthbert's Church, Edinburgh, it opened its first shop in Ponton Street, Fountainbridge, Edinburgh in 1859. The society was part of the co-operative movement and followed the Rochdale Principles with the aim of providing decent food at affordable prices in a shop controlled by its customers as a co-operative.

Winder Farms

Winder Farms is an American dairy company. It offers milk and chocolate milk and other products, to households in Utah, Las Vegas, Nevada and Orange County, California.

Milk Marketing Board

The Milk Marketing Board was a producer-run product marketing board, established by the Agricultural Marketing Act 1933, to control milk production and distribution in the United Kingdom. It functioned as buyer of last resort in the milk market in Britain, thereby guaranteeing a minimum price for milk producers. It also participated in the development of milk products, introducing Lymeswold cheese. It was based at Thames Ditton in Surrey.

Milk bag Plastic bags that contain milk

A milk bag is a plastic bag that contains milk. Milk bags are usually stored in a pitcher or jug with one of the corners cut off to allow for pouring. A typical milk bag contains approximately 1 L (1.8 imp pt) of milk in South America, Iran, Israel, Eastern Europe, Brazil and the Baltics, while in the UK they contain 2 imperial pints (1.1 L), in Canada 1+13 litres (2.3 imp pt), and in India, 0.5 L (0.9 imp pt).

No Milk Today 1966 single by Hermans Hermits

"No Milk Today" is a song that was written by Graham Gouldman and originally recorded by British pop band Herman's Hermits. It was first released as a single by the Mancunian group in the UK in October 1966 and, with the B-side "My Reservation's Been Confirmed", enjoyed chart success, peaking at No. 7 in the UK Singles Chart. Although not released as a single in the US, it was popular enough to become a moderate hit when it was released there as the B-side to "There's a Kind of Hush", reaching No. 35 in 1967. It was also a major hit in many European countries.

Wales & Edwards

Wales & Edwards was a British manufacturer of milk floats based in Harlescott, Shrewsbury. They were particularly well known for their three wheelers. It was one of the oldest milk float manufacturers lasting from the early 1940s to the early 1990s. In 1989, the company was acquired by Smith Electric Vehicles. Major customers included United Dairies and in the early years, Express Dairies. The basic design evolved throughout W&E's existence before finally ending its days as the Rangemaster.

A milkman is a person who delivers milk in bottles or cartons to houses.

Rockview Farms was established in Downey, California, in 1927 by Bob Hops. In 1930, Mr. Joseph J. McCandless organized the dairy. In 1938, Rockview Farms won a gold medal in the raw milk exhibit at the Los Angeles County Fair. The McCandless brothers were selling retail with the help of Joseph McCandless' wife from Ireland.

Graiseley Electric Vehicles

Graiseley Electric Vehicles were produced by the British company Diamond Motors Ltd of Wolverhampton. They had previously made motor cycles, but began producing battery-electric road vehicles (BERV) in the mid 1930s. They were best known for their three-wheeled pedestrian controlled vehicles, although they also produced conventional four-wheeled milk floats, and later manufactured industrial trucks. The company went into liquidation in the early 1960s, although the marque was used by two other companies until at least 1972.

Manulectrics was a British marque of milk floats and other battery electric road vehicles. The vehicles were made by Sidney Holes Electric Vehicles, of Brighton, Sussex. They were designed out of Holes' experience of doorstep milk delivery, through Holes and Davigdor Dairies. Both pedestrian controlled vehicles (PCVs) and ride-on models were produced, and entered the market around 1947. The company was bought by Stanley Engineering in the 1960s, and sold to Crompton Electricars in 1972. Some Manulectric models were subsequently manufactured by Harbilt Electric Trucks.

Midland Electric Vehicles

Midland Electric Vehicles was a British manufacturer of milk floats and other battery electric road vehicles between 1936 and 1958. They were based in Leamington Spa, and one of their major customers was Midland Counties Dairies, to whom they supplied just the chassis, with bodywork being built by the customer. At least two of their vehicles survive in museums.

Ross Auto Engineering

Ross Auto Engineering was a British manufacturer of milk floats and other battery electric road vehicles. The company was formed in 1949 by Victor Electrics, another manufacturer of milk floats. In 1955 they took over the production of Helecs battery electric road vehicles, and also introduced their own models. With the rapid demise of home milk deliveries, production of vehicles ceased in the 1980s, by which time the company had diversified into mobility services, and began trading as Ross Care.

Anderson Erickson Dairy Dairy in Iowa

The Anderson Erickson Dairy (AE) is the largest independently owned dairy in Iowa. Headquartered in Des Moines, it was founded in June, 1930 during the Great Depression by Iver Erickson and Bill Anderson. After eight years in business, Anderson sold his interest in the company and moved to Minnesota, leaving Erickson with complete ownership of the company. By 2004 the family-owned company was the 73rd largest dairy by sales in the United States. As of 2021, it is still run by descendants of Iver Erickson.


  1. Wolf, Bonny. "The Milkman's Comeback Means Dairy At The Door And More". National Public Radio. Retrieved 1 September 2020.
  2. 1 2 Tahmincioglu, Eve (16 December 2007). "Remember the Milkman? In Some Places, He's Back". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 March 2019.
  3. "Yes, you can still get milk delivered — and people are taking advantage". The Boston Globe. February 13, 2018.
  5. "The Milkman Is Back to Making Dairy Deliveries". 2020-04-08. Retrieved 2020-04-15.
  6. Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho: Retro Trabaho!. YouTube.
  7. 1 2 Knapton, Sarah (21 January 2018). "Milk floats and glass bottles make a comeback as shoppers shun plastic". Telegraph. Retrieved 2019-03-07.
  8. Tierney, Nessa (2015-03-25). "Disappearing pinta: Are the milkman's days finally numbered?". BBC News. Retrieved 2019-03-07.
  9. Ricci, Charlie. "Almost Hits: Herman's Hermits, "No Milk Today" (1967)". Retrieved 2014-03-10.