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Archive for Monday, August 27, 2007

Company helps glass milk bottles make comeback

August 27, 2007

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Tim Iwig, owner of Iwig Family Dairy, watches employee Melody Buford while milking cows July 6 in Topeka. There was a time - long before the Internet, cell phones and $3-per-gallon gasoline - when milk, not water, came in bottles. And glass bottles at that. Many older consumers recall glass bottles fondly as providing colder, creamier, fresher-tasting milk.

Tim Iwig, owner of Iwig Family Dairy, watches employee Melody Buford while milking cows July 6 in Topeka. There was a time - long before the Internet, cell phones and $3-per-gallon gasoline - when milk, not water, came in bottles. And glass bottles at that. Many older consumers recall glass bottles fondly as providing colder, creamier, fresher-tasting milk.

— There was a time - long before the Internet, cell phones and $3-per-gallon gasoline - when milk, not water, came in bottles. And glass bottles at that.

As outrageous as the idea may sound to younger people, many older consumers recall glass bottles fondly as providing colder, creamier, fresher-tasting milk.

Now, glass milk bottles are making a comeback in Wichita and several other Kansas markets, thanks to a Topeka-area dairyman who hopes the old-fashioned containers catch on once again.

So far, Tim Iwig admits, Wichita has been a tough sell.

"We did promotions in a couple of stores in Wichita," said Iwig, owner of Iwig Dairy in Tecumseh. "A lot of people wouldn't even sample it."

Still, six larger Dillons stores in Wichita and one in Andover began carrying Iwig's milk a couple of months ago.

Dillons spokeswoman Sheila Lowrie wouldn't provide sales figures but said shoppers "are always interested in trying new things."

"The glass bottle really provides a nostalgic twist," Lowrie said.

Plastic and paper milk cartons started to replace glass in most markets decades ago. Iwig said his family's dairy stopped using glass in the 1950s, mainly because people got used to "throwing everything away" rather than returning bottles for a deposit.

Iwig, 47, revived the family business with a dairy herd of his own after graduating from college in 1983, but mainly sold his milk in bulk to other dairies.

Several years ago, he began to look for ways to get more money for his milk and hit on two ideas - producing it without antibiotics or growth hormones to appeal to the growing market for natural foods, and using glass bottles.

Iwig said plastic containers tend to "leach into the milk," although he admits he's seen no scientific studies to back this up. Iwig might be expected to favor glass over plastic or paper containers, but a much larger milk producer whose dairy uses all three types of containers agrees that glass is superior.

"It tastes better (out of glass), that's what a lot of people claim," said Jason Ohlau, who owns the Chester (Ill.) Dairy, which supplies milk throughout most of southern Illinois.

"There's no doubt that it gets colder in the glass than it does in the plastic," he said. "In my opinion, it gives you a purer taste because you don't have anything interfering with it."

The Chester Dairy now sells more milk in plastic and paper containers. But it never stopped using glass, which has a "loyal following of customers," Ohlau said.

In addition to regular milk, Iwig produces chocolate, strawberry and root beer-flavored milk. Iwig said supermarket sales in Topeka and Lawrence have been strong, and a store located at his dairy sells as much as $1,100 in milk on Saturdays.

Comments

LogicMan 7 years, 3 months ago

What is old is new. With conventional energy and other resources reaching their limit, more of these old ways will come back after being updated. Maybe buggywhips, with electronic whack limiters, will be the next growth industry.

lildos 7 years, 3 months ago

I know for a fact (that cannot be backed up up by scientific evidence) that water tastes a lot better out of a glass cup than out of a plastic cup. Also, I believe Coca Cola tastes a heck of a lot better out of glass bottles. I must say I never drank milk out of the glass, but I can see why it would taste better, and I see why it is a tough sell. The concept of returning glass bottles to buy new milk is "outrageous"! If I drank milk and they sold in glass bottle I would definitely give it a try!

OnlyTheOne 7 years, 3 months ago

One of the reasons "many older consumers recall glass bottles fondly as providing colder, creamier, fresher-tasting milk." is because it wasn't pasteurized therefore it didn't need refridgeration (there's two spellings on this and I consider this one correct) and another reason is it was actual milk!

Bubarubu 7 years, 3 months ago

Someone who knows better should feel free to correct me, but I'd long understood that milk could lose some of its nutritional value or potentially spoil if exposed to light for too much time. That's why plastic milk jugs are fairly opaque. Unless the glass is tinted, I would think it would provide less protection against light, and even tinted glass would be less effective than plastic.

trinity 7 years, 3 months ago

i was just devastated by the closure of "newhouse" dairy, out by wellsville. only one grocery store, in ottawa, carried their milk in the glass bottles! the last time i went to buy my milk-was the very last time, the checkout lady told me that newhouse had sold out&what the store had on hand was IT. :*( i so miss my milk in glass, it tastes sooo much better! not sure about making a 40+mile trip just to buy milk, though. y'all should consider yourselves lucky to have stores in lawrence that carry glass-bottled milk!

py, i LOVED reading your post; i too remember the days of the milkman(meadow gold where i grew up), the tin box on the porch, and the eggman too! that was in ottawa, though...sigh i love those memories!

yankeelady 7 years, 3 months ago

I loved Newhouse dairy. HyVee carried their products.They had the best eggnog in the world. I will continue to buy local as much as possible. I also have no problem with glass bottles, less landfill issues.

Aileen Dingus 7 years, 3 months ago

Pye- oh I remember the silver box... I don't remember when the milkman stopped delivering to our house, but it must have been in the early 70's, as I was born in 68. We had a glass milk bottle for years after that- it was the orange juice bottle. lol

I like the glass bottle milk nowadays, but it's just so damned expensive.

trinity 7 years, 3 months ago

aw, YES i remember that game! it was played at birthday parties when i was a kid! :) lol and it truly is tougher than it sounds, so nah you weren't "criminally uncoordinated". and sure do remember the little cardboard bottle caps, too. and for some reason, those paper straws we used to get came to mind. ahh, i can smell grade school now! :) very pleasant break in the day.

loloen 7 years, 3 months ago

The reason the soda in bottles from central America taste so much better than the stuff in the USA that comes in plastic bottles is not just the bottles themselves. In central America (and Mexico) they use real cane sugar, not high fructose corn syrup. Makes a big difference.

monheim 7 years, 3 months ago

I recently started getting the Iwig milk. I saw it at Dillon's and thought "what the hell". I keep getting it now because it really DOES seem to taste better. I even switched back to plastic-carton Dillon's milk for a week because I forgot to bring my Iwig bottle in for the deposit and I definitely noticed a difference. The taste of the milk made by Iwig without all the hormones and stuff has a lot more flavor and personality than most other milk.

I don't know if we'll ever be able to scientifically prove whether things taste better coming out of glass then they do out of plastic. It could just be a placebo type effect...people may just think it's better so it seems better, but the milk IS different. It's not full of hormones and isn't as heavily processed. And as someone else already noted, the Coca Cola from South/Central America tastes different because the ingridients list is a lot simpler and they make it using real sugar...not corn syrup crap.

Janet Lowther 7 years, 3 months ago

Un-homogenized milk in glass bottles from small dairies persisted into at least the 1960s, long after the grocery store brands were both homogenized and in paper cartons. Before we moved to Lawrence we got our milk from my big sister's best friend's family dairy: Pasturized, un-homogenized milk in glass bottles with paper lids.

Another big factor in the flavor of milk is the breed of cow producing the milk: Jersey cows produce a much better tasting milk than the ubiquitous Holstein cows. Holsteins produce more pounds of milk, but Jersies produce much richer, creamier milk.

Janet Lowther 7 years, 3 months ago

I forgot to mention the Merc has been selling milk in glass bottles for some time.

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