Back to life: But not Wanzer

Before school, I would eat my breakfast, generally, Frosted flakes cereal, soaked in the best milk ever at the dinette table . Even the butter on my toast was rich and creamy. The orange juice just ok. Sometimes he would come before I went to school entering the small entry way by the back door. Sometimes my Mom thought he was cute. But he was always pleasant, the same guy for every delivery that she could depend and always Wanzer, for us anyway.

Sidney Wanzer was the son of Nicholas and Betsey (Hill) Wanzer. Sidney and his parents followed his oldest brother Moses to western Dundee Township, Kane, Illinois about 1840. He married Jane Bradley, the daughter of William S. Bradley, another Fairfield, Franklin, Vermont, immigrant, on 22 October 1857 in Elgin, Kane, Illinois.

The family lived in Chicago and had ten children: Luna, Bertha E., William Bradley, Bessie, Howard Hill, Sidney, Jennie L., Breddie, Arthur Grant and Charles.

Sidney Wanzer began hauling his ‘country-fresh’ milk from the farms in the Elgin and Dundee areas to Chicago in 1857. He later partnered with his brother to form the Wanzer Dairy in Chicago.They pioneered the use of the glass milk bottle, scientific testing to determine the butterfat content of milk, mechanical refrigeration for milk storage and applied the pasteurization process invented by Louis Pasteur to kill bacteria in milk.

The main dairy in Chicago was at Garfield Blvd. (55th Street) and the Dan Ryan Expressway along with two other south side plants. A distribution center was located on Lawrence Avenue between Wolcott and Ravenswood.

Wanzer was sold in the 1970’s to Borden. Home milk delivery from local dairies and creameries was a mainstay for many families in the 1950s and ‘60s. But as it became easier and cheaper to buy milk at the grocery store, and as processes were developed to extend milk’s shelf life, the milkman began to fade into the past.

However, now all over the country, trucks are delivering fresh milk in glass bottles and organic vegetables.  Ecoli scares and processed food with few health benefits have changed the food market and many people ordered online and delivered once a week, or month or anytime that fits your schedule. Glass bottles have returned because they can

Some of the best milk delivery in Chicago today are Mori Milk and  1871 Dairy. Mori Milk is located in Franklin Park and has been providing milk, ice cream, cheeses, juices and yogurt delivery for the last fifteen years. Mori Milk is a distributor for Deans foods, Breyers, Ben & Jerry’s and Good Humor.

However, 1871 Dairy is a wholesome dairy infrastructure in Chicago that can claim 100% grass fed products. With a subscription, you will receive free home delivery for those in the Chicago and Western Suburbs tasting the best in cultured buttermilk and drinkable yogurt.

Currently, my son works for Hinkley Schmidt and delivers water to scheduled businesses and communities. It’s those that are retired that want to know who he is, his name and will he always be delivering. They like the idea that it is that same man every time ….just like my Mom’s milkman.

You can actually purchase old glass bottles of vintage Illinois dairies on Etsy and a wonderful children’s book called Milkman Bill. 

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