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Milk Pail

Display: Liquid Refreshments
Culinary Technique: transport

Date: c. 1920

Location: Illinois

Dimensions: 14" h x 8.5" w x 8.5" d

Watch collection donor Mel Mickevic demonstrate this object with
Dean Christopher Koetke, School of Culinary Arts, Kendall College,
and Victoria Matranga, exhibition curator.

This pail reveals something about the legal and economic issues surrounding milk ingredients and distribution in the early 20th-century United States. Used in a dairy that straddled the Illinois-Indiana border, it is embossed "Illinois" twice, to indicate that the contents could be sold only in that state. As milk production increased and prices dropped in the early 1920s, controversy arose over ingredients and labeling, and state regulations varied. Some in the industry extracted butter fats from milk and substituted cheaper vegetable fats—primarily imported coconut oil—to make condensed or dried milk they marketed as whole milk. Public health concerns regarding children's nutrition arose, and, in 1923, the Filled Milk Act was passed and set national standards for interstate commerce.