The delivery of milk began in rural Vermont in 1785. From that day, up until around the 1950s and 1960s, you could find a milkman delivering milk to homes all across the country. The initial reason for having a milk delivery service was because it was impossible for people to store their milk for more than a day. This was due to poor refrigeration and because how milk was packaged. As time and technology advanced, the milk delivery industry declined, eventually to the point where it is nearly non-existent today. So, what happened to milk delivery?

Here’s What Happened

The decline of milk delivery and the milkman can be attributed to a few different things, but the three largest contributors were: development and advancement in refrigeration, suburbanization, and the growth of supermarkets.

Development and Advancement Refrigeration

This one is obvious. The biggest reason for the decline of milk delivery is because of the advancement refrigeration. Refrigerators became more accessible to the public, and were more common in households than ever before. Because of this, milk delivery wasn’t needed every day. Homes could go a few days, even a week between deliveries instead of every, or every other day.


Post-WWII suburbanization was also a contributor to the end of milk delivery. Neighborhoods became more spread out after the second world war, making the milkman elongate their routes. As a result, the milkman spent more time driving his truck between deliveries, which caused him to work more, which in turn meant he had to get paid more. This led to an increase in the price of milk from the milkman, so families simply started adding milk to their shopping lists for the supermarkets.

Growth of Supermarkets

The final factor was the growth of supermarkets themselves. As more began to open in suburban areas, it became much more convenient just to purchase milk while you were there. Coupled in with the growth of supermarkets was the fact that more Americans than ever, now owned cars. This made trips to the supermarket much easier for millions of people across the country.

Shetler Dairy Farm

Although milk delivery to residences is nearly non-existent today, the desire for quality milk is not. We only put our milk through a low-temperature pasteurization process, and we never homogenize our milk. We won’t deliver our milk to your doorstep, but you can find our milk and a number of other products across all of northwestern Michigan.

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