How long has half & half been around?
January 27, 2010 7:24 AM   Subscribe

When did milk companies start selling half & half, 2% milk, and the other modern variations?
posted by markcmyers to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Skim milk and half-and-half have been around for a good long time. Certainly, skim pre-dates me (I'm 52) I'm pretty sure half-and-half is similarly aged. I recall 2% hitting the shelves in my area sometime in the mid-late 60's.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:46 AM on January 27, 2010


My grandfather told me how they used to seperate out the milk on our family dairy farm at the turn of the 20th century. Incidentally, he called skim milk "blue-john" and said that is why it often comes with a light blue cap at the store.
posted by Pollomacho at 7:56 AM on January 27, 2010


"he called skim milk "blue-john" and said that is why it often comes with a light blue cap at the store"

Interesting. I've always associated skim milk with pink caps, whole milk with red caps, and 2% milk with blue caps.
posted by autoclavicle at 8:15 AM on January 27, 2010


A nerdy little detail...Today, all raw milk coming into the factory is stripped of fat, making it all skim milk. Fat is then re-introduced to the milk in the precise amounts to make 2% and whole milk.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:34 AM on January 27, 2010 [9 favorites]


I've always associated skim milk with pink caps, whole milk with red caps, and 2% milk with blue caps.

Different creameries choose different colours. I've sometimes accidently bought 2% if I shop at a different supermarket because my usual one uses blue for skim and pink for 2% while the alternate supermarket switches them.

(At homogenized milk is consistently yellow.)
posted by Kurichina at 8:43 AM on January 27, 2010


I bet the blue-John name is due to the faint blue color in skim. Skim was pig food before it was marketed to people. There are lots of nice things you can make from the separated fat.

(sorry can't help with the history)
posted by Fiery Jack at 9:13 AM on January 27, 2010


skim milk is, literally, skimmed milk - if you let raw milk sit around in wide, shallow pans without disturbing it overnight, all the cream rises to the top, when it can then be removed for consumption and use in making butter. It's been done basically as long as people have been milking cows; I'm sure that commercial dairies have been doing it as long as they've been around. 2% might be newer.

Here's a song from Little House in the Big Woods:

Old Grimes is dead, that good old man
We never shall see him more
He used to wear an old grey coat
All buttoned down before
Old Grime's wife made skim milk cheese
Old Grimes he drank the whey
There came an east wind from the west
And blew Old Grimes Away

posted by peachfuzz at 9:15 AM on January 27, 2010


In 1890, Stephen M. Babcock, a professor of agricultural chemistry here at the University of Wisconsin, invented the "Babcock test" for measuring the butterfat content of milk. That's what made it possible to sell 2% milk, and it helped establish Wisconsin as the center of the U.S. dairy industry.
posted by escabeche at 9:31 AM on January 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think the OP is interested in knowing when half and half came about as an item as opposed to full cream. At least that's what I was hoping to find in the answers.
posted by Nameless at 10:49 AM on January 27, 2010


It looks as though half-and-half was introduced around 1950 and began to replace cream in kitchen applications around the 1960s. A 1971 source points out that since its introduction, along with increased attention to fat content and the development of cream substitutes (e.g. for coffee) cream sales had declined. A 1959 source discussed "cereal cream or half-and-half milk".

The term and formulation "half and half" are subject to federal and state regulation. Other countries don't use this term at all, but may have a similar milk product. Similarly, terms such as "2% milk" are written into the CFR, and terminology was revised about a decade ago so that "skim" could be relabeled "fat-free", and the % varieties as "reduced fat"; this was also when 1% became commonly available in my experience (there is also a standard for 1.5% milkfat content, but I've never seen this at retail).

According to what I've read, practically nobody but infants should really be drinking milk with more than 1% fat content.
posted by dhartung at 1:13 PM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


A nerdy little detail...Today, all raw milk coming into the factory is stripped of fat, making it all skim milk. Fat is then re-introduced to the milk in the precise amounts to make 2% and whole milk.

One reason for this is that different breeds of cow produce different levels of fat in the milk, some as much as 6%, so the meaning of whole milk is relative.
posted by Dragonness at 1:22 PM on January 27, 2010


In The Revolution Will not be Microwaved Sandor Katz talks about the history of the pasturization of milk. Page 166.

According to what I've read in other sources, no one should be drinking skim milk, and no one should be drinking homogenized milk.
posted by GregorWill at 3:15 PM on January 27, 2010


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