The People's Choice: The Midwest Dairy Association's All-You-Can-Drink Milk Stand

  • Updated: August 17, 2014 - 1:00 AM
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The “All the Milk You Can Drink for a Dime” milk tent opened on Machinery Hill in 1955.

Amid a sea of new and exotic foods, fairgoers have been lining up for nearly 60 years at the Midwest Dairy Association’s All-You-Can-Drink Milk Stand to enjoy something they probably have in their own refrigerators.

But there’s something about that milk — stored in 300-gallon totes, cooled to 38 degrees or less and carried through 200 feet of stainless-steel pipe into the 12-ounce cups served by dairy-farm families and other dairy-industry supporters — that just tastes more delicious than the stuff at home.

“People tell us that it’s different,” said Sherry Newell, the Dairy Association’s senior communications manager.

Logically, it shouldn’t be. Oh, it may be kept a little colder than your fridge keeps it. It’s 2 percent, so for those accustomed to skim “perhaps they’re enjoying that little bit of fuller taste.” Or maybe it’s that you watch it flow into the glass, looking frothy and appetizing.

“We just think it’s partly the fair atmosphere,” Newell said.

In any case, at $1 for all you can drink, she considers it the fair’s best bargain.

Last year the stand served more than 26,000 gallons of milk, not quite half of them chocolate. When the stand began offering chocolate milk a few years back, some observers predicted it would be more popular. But white always outsells chocolate, a fact Newell attributes to the popularity of the classic version among true milk enthusiasts.

“I think milk lovers love to enjoy white milk as a great drink, even with exotic foods,” she said. “Our dairy farmers are just tickled pink to be able to provide that bargain and know that people walk away loving milk again, even if they didn’t yesterday or last year.” □

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