"When you go under 4mph it'll explode!"
December 6, 2017 5:55 AM   Subscribe

'Welcome to Milk Float Corner, to the best of my knowledge the only site on the web dedicated to "our friends electric" - the humble milk float. Designed for reliability, durability, and quietness of operation, milk floats are also pollution-free as they glide around during the early hours...'

Elsewhere, at Flickr, there's a Milk Floats group containing in excess of 1000 images.

However, although the 'gentle clink of glass bottles and the whirr of the electric milk float will be an instantly familiar sound to many [...] the number of British households getting their milk delivered has declined dramatically in the past 20 years...' Nessa Tierney at BBC News asks 'Are the milkman's days finally numbered?'

Even so, there's still a surprising amount of milk float mayhem out on those mean streets, for example:
posted by misteraitch (36 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
 
That page is W3C APPROVED XHTML1.1 & CSS

There's something in that look that I like.
posted by mikelieman at 6:07 AM on December 6 [2 favorites]


"Milk Float Pervert" is my favorite NOFX album.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:22 AM on December 6 [6 favorites]


Ah, the milk float: the bane of my teenage newspaper delivery route. One of the milkmen was convinced that paperboys were deliberately smashing bottles (it was foxes) and would “race” up to you and yell, threatening to drive you off the road. Thankfully, the floats were slow and even tubby teenage me on a crap gaspipe 10-speed could outrun them, or knew paths too narrow for them to follow. But if I ever hear the distinctive clonk … vweee of a low-speed electric vehicle starting up, I'd still look for somewhere to hide.
posted by scruss at 6:28 AM on December 6 [11 favorites]


Clonk ... vwee you say?
posted by valkane at 6:31 AM on December 6 [2 favorites]


I would be so confused about what a milk float was if it weren't for psychiatry.
posted by darksasami at 6:40 AM on December 6 [1 favorite]


Until I got to this sentence in the post: "the number of British households getting their milk delivered has declined dramatically" I was absolutely convinced that this was some weird nonsense, like ... like one of those memes built around a typo or something. Milk float? Is that like ... putting ice cream in a mug of milk? How does that glide around all electric and pollution-free? "Marvel as an electric milk float sets a 73mph speed record"???

that's about when I had to give up and click the first link to figure out what the joke was.

I'm actually still not sure this isn't an elaborate long-form joke built around a typo.
posted by komara at 6:55 AM on December 6 [9 favorites]


Another great classic collection site in the vein of this billhook one or that arcade cabinet collection.

We should come up with a name for such collections. And probably collect them. They’re kind of like the phonebook, in that they’re made obsolete by robust search engines drawing on a robust web, but the old ones have a hostorical charm. Don’t we all remember a simpler time, when these sites were indispensable? And don’t we all miss the sense of getting to know the currator in a time when you could really be the web’s foremost authority on your niche interest?

As a literature geek, I have to think that this period of the web is worth studying to understand the culture and mindset and aspirations of web 1.0. It was a wonderful era, like the birth of punk music, except for DIY nerds of every (absolutely every) stripe. A little bubble of hope for the future and reverence for the minutiae of the past and present, now long-popped like so many Clay Shirkey day dreams.
posted by es_de_bah at 7:10 AM on December 6 [2 favorites]


I'm only in my 30s but milk floats are one of the things that really make me aware I grew up in a different century. clonk.. vrrrree the soundtrack of an early summer's morning
posted by sarahdal at 7:20 AM on December 6 [4 favorites]


> Clonk ... vwee you say?

Aaaah!
(typing this from under the desk)
posted by scruss at 7:21 AM on December 6 [2 favorites]


I'm actually still not sure this isn't an elaborate long-form joke built around a typo.

komara, this is like Australians warning you about drop bears. The pictures you see of "milk floats" are actually a combination of small electric work buses, cheese bobs, and maintenance skims. Milk hasn't been home delivered in the UK since the nationalization of the dairy industry under Attlee's reforms (guided by the Beveridge Report) after WWII.
posted by leotrotsky at 7:22 AM on December 6 [4 favorites]


Ah... so that's what a "milk float" is. I've occasionally wondered. Perhaps we'll get to the bottom of the legendary walrus gumboot next.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:34 AM on December 6






I've listened to that song for 35 years and never understood that line until this second.
posted by octothorpe at 9:09 AM on December 6 [2 favorites]


Clicked through for Dougal the Milkman...was not disappointed. :)
posted by Doc Ezra at 9:48 AM on December 6 [3 favorites]


Remember to leave your empty yogurt pots out for the milkman to put on top of your pints so the blue tits can't peck through the tops and steal the cream.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:05 AM on December 6 [7 favorites]


fearfulsymmetry: Please, this is a family blog.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 10:15 AM on December 6 [4 favorites]


the number of British households getting their milk delivered has declined dramatically in the past 20 years

I had no idea that had still been a thing even 20 years ago - I assumed milk delivery had died out long before that.
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:33 AM on December 6 [1 favorite]


"EeeeempTIES!"

Childhood memories of squabbling with siblings over whose turn it was to have The Top Of The Milk (the several centimetres of delicious cream which would rise to the top of the full-fat, silver-foil-topped, bottle). And of hearing the float whirr down the road in the early morning, cueing a mass scramble along the street to get the washed empty bottles out on the step in time. And, yes, cursing the local small bird population for pecking smugly through the foil tops to snaffle The Top Of The Milk for themselves...
posted by Morfil Ffyrnig at 10:34 AM on December 6 [3 favorites]


One of the unexpected delights when we moved house three years ago is that we are now in an area that has a milk delivery. I assume a float is involved, since we never hear anything, but nonetheless remembering to fetch in the milk is now a part of my morning routine for the first time since my childhood.

Not only that, but the monthly bill loudly reminds us that we can now pay for all this lovely fresh milk via online banking, although leaving cash in the envelope is also an option.
posted by YoungStencil at 10:55 AM on December 6 [1 favorite]


We still get our milk delivered, sadly now by a taciturn bloke who throws our little 'no milk today please' notes on the pathway when we (occasionally) are away at short notice. I dont think he likes how far apart his customers are. Kinda ruins my childhood memories of getting a ride up the road from our beloved milkman Harold on his float. He was so popular when he retired our local community clubbed together to send him on a trip on concorde. Ah. Happy days.
posted by RandomInconsistencies at 10:58 AM on December 6 [6 favorites]


Greg_Ace: I had no idea that had still been a thing even 20 years ago - I assumed milk delivery had died out long before that.

Declined, but not disappeared! There's still a roaming milk-float in the village where I work, and one whose patch includes my own street. They carry soya/lactose-free/fancy milk too, these days.
posted by Morfil Ffyrnig at 11:08 AM on December 6 [1 favorite]


I wonder if a city like San Francisco could support a resurgent milk delivery service in this day and age and level of internet functionality. I could certainly use a fresh gallon every 4-5 days.
posted by rhizome at 11:21 AM on December 6


Looking up milk delivery on Wikipedia brought forth this interesting tidbit:
In the Uganda region an often used title for "king" is "Omukama", which means "superior milkman/milk bringer": a title that refers to the role of the leader as a feeder of the people and the historical tradition that the ancient ruling class of some Ugandan kingdoms was of Hema stock, the Hema being cattle-holders.
I don't know how accurate that description is, but it reminded me of two different conceptions of lordship in Old English: lord as giver of rings (generosity), lord as guardian of loaves (domesticity/nourishment).

That aside aside (hurr), I remain unsure what the motivation is for getting your milk delivered if you have reliable refrigeration and a grocery store in reasonable distance, other than perhaps wanting to cut out the middleman (if even that) or maybe for the fun of it. From the sound of it, it isn't cheaper.
posted by inconstant at 12:18 PM on December 6 [1 favorite]


Yeah, it's not as if we don't get lots of doorstep deliveries nowadays but they all come at unreliable times, and delivered by unreliable people, or they come in big online supermarket shops where you have to pay for a delivery slot at a specific time and sign for it and check it.

So I'm quite pleased that this post meant that I just discovered that even though I don't actually eat much – if anything – in the way of animal produce, I can get doorstep deliveries of soya milk, as well as tedious, bulky or heavy shopping items like toilet roll and bottled (fizzy, obviously, because the tap water's good here) water.

And if you do drink milk, you can get it in lovely reusable glass bottles albeit at about 3× the price of supermarket milk. Personally, I did organise milk delivery when I worked in a shared office with a tea and coffee kitty, because otherwise you're waiting for people to pop to the shops and buy more.

(They also do Pepsi, but not Pepsi Blue.)
posted by ambrosen at 12:39 PM on December 6 [1 favorite]


Also, the Speed 3 scene with the booby trap makes me fall about laughing every single time.
posted by ambrosen at 12:42 PM on December 6


I wonder if a city like San Francisco could support a resurgent milk delivery service in this day and age and level of internet functionality. I could certainly use a fresh gallon every 4-5 days.

Albany NY manages it. Meadowbrook Farms Dairy swaps 2 empty 1/2 gallon glass bottles with an envelope taped to it, with 2 full of fresh, lo-temp pasteurized milk every Friday morning.

We started when our oldest started drinking milk. ( Man, that whole milk is so good.. ) but now we get the skim. Still great. Every summer at the county fair, we go visit the cows in the dairy barn.
posted by mikelieman at 3:40 PM on December 6 [1 favorite]


When I started reading Homestuck and was introduced to the Midnight Crew and their fan-adopted theme song, I'm a Member of the Midnight Crew, I had the great fun of explaining to teenagers that the line, "home with the milk in the morning," didn't mean, "I stopped off at the nearest micro-mart and picked up half a gallon of milk to bring home."

I am a USian and have never lived anywhere with milk delivery. I know about it from stories in my school-assigned literature books.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 4:23 PM on December 6


Someone I knew told the story against herself of how in the late '70s when she first left home for The Big City she'd happily put out the money for the milkman in the empty bottles out on her doorstep. The neighbours had to warn her that it wasn't that sort of area and just asking to get stolen.
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 5:08 PM on December 6


"I wonder if a city like San Francisco could support a resurgent milk delivery service in this day and age and level of internet functionality. I could certainly use a fresh gallon every 4-5 days."

SF doesn't have any? In Illinois these days you can get it in any city of reasonable size -- Peoria, Chicago, etc., mostly via Oberweis Dairy. (Whose owner made a mint on starting home dairy delivery and then ran as a self-funded Republican a bunch of times. But anyway! There's good money in home dairy delivery.) They've been delivering since the 1920s, had a rough patch there in the 70s and 80s, but business is pretty booming again.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:49 PM on December 6


My dad used to amuse himself calling the cluster of bottles on the doorstep a cow's nest.
(and inquire as to whether the refuse collectors had passed our way with "hast bin man bin, man?", and so on, and so on...)
posted by runincircles at 8:51 PM on December 6 [1 favorite]


I had never heard of a "milk float" before, so I had assumed that this was like a root beer float, but with milk. Which I guess would just be an extremely chunky milk shake.
posted by JDHarper at 9:54 PM on December 6


Chipping in with a yes, we still get milk delivered too! Any other Mefites living in east London who want to get in on this glorious fresh milk action, should check out these peeps: http://www.parkerdairies.co.uk/.

Milk is currently arriving about 6 am, although it can drift out to after 7.30 am at times
posted by fatfrank at 5:57 AM on December 7 [1 favorite]


It's also the one thing we still use a cheque book for, which still confuses me every single month when I go through our accounts;

"wtf is this weird arse payment? It's just a bunch of numbers. Christ! We're being sca..... no, wait, it's the milk again. Dummy"
posted by fatfrank at 6:01 AM on December 7


I get my milk delivered in east London, by a local independent dairy. So I'm sure it could work in San Francisco. They also deliver fresh sourdough, not sure about avocados.

I send them twitter DMs rather than leaving a "no milk today" note.
posted by Helga-woo at 6:08 AM on December 7 [2 favorites]


(My deliveries are from Parker Dairies too)
posted by Helga-woo at 6:09 AM on December 7


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