The smartest cows study all night to give Grade A milk

As I was serving up some vanilla ice cream for dessert tonight, I noted that Breyer’s is very proud of using only “Grade A” milk, which made me wonder for the first time if there is “Grade B” milk or even milk that fails completely (even if graded on a curve).

It turns out there is, and it comes down to how the milk is handled after it’s collected from cows. “Grade A” milk requires the strictest sanitary conditions and is immediately stored in refrigerated bulk containers that cool the milk down to around 40 degree Fahrenheit within 30 minutes. This milk is known as “fluid grade milk” because it’s able to be packaged for liquid consumption. Lower milk grades (there are at least “Grade B” and “Grade C” and possibly others) are used for daily products such as cheese, though many daily products also use Grade A milk (such as my Breyer’s ice cream).

Another common misconception about milk is due to the common “2%” and “1%” variants available at most grocery stores. I assumed for a long time that “whole milk” was therefore 100% milk, but the percentage is actually the amount of milk fat since the containers of milk we buy are actually mostly water. So 100% milk fat would be pretty solid and wouldn’t work as well on your morning cereal or in your macaroni and cheese. “Whole milk” actually contains 3.25% milk fat, “2%” has (you guessed it) 2% milk fat, and “1%” has (interestingly) between 0.5 and 1.5% milk fat. Even “skim milk” has some milk fat, not more than 0.5% (otherwise it would be 1% milk!).

Our milk door was like this one.

I’m old enough to remember when the Twin Pines truck would pull up to our house in Pontiac and leave our milk order in an insulated cooler outside our back door. We also had a “milk door” located next to the back door which had a shelf above it on the inside where you could put cubed or block ice to keep the milk cold if you weren’t going to be home when the milkman arrived, but my dad bolted the inside milk door shut because you could reach in and unlock our back door through it. I assume milk doors were common when you could leave your house unlocked and not worry about thieves (or nosy neighbors). We used the old milk door space to store gardening tools instead.

Vintage dairy truck
Twin Pines Farm Dairy truck in the collection of the Knowlton Ice Museum. (Source: Facebook)

The Knowlton Ice Museum in Port Huron has a great collection of ice and milk delivery memorabilia, including a Twin Pines truck! And here’s a company in Kansas City that brought home delivery of milk and milk products back a few years ago:

Twin Pines also had Milky the Clown, who was in all of their advertising and even had his own kids’ show on WJBK-TV Channel 2 in Detroit. Here’s Milky in a special appearance on the 1963 United Foundation Torch Drive television show:

It’s funny to think that we used to have all kinds of things delivered directly to our homes, including milk, bread, and other groceries, but that was largely phased out as supermarkets and malls put the burden of transporting goods more on the shopper. But now we have Amazon Prime, UPS, FedEx, and the Postal Service dropping off things on our porches a few times per week, and I’ve even seen some oversized insulated and lockable boxes that you can buy to have keep your packages fresh and secure. What goes around, etc.