Drink Milk Campaign Across America–1920s

Hello, again History Lovers,

At the turn of the twentieth century, the government, dairy associations, and health organizations began promoting the nutritional benefits of drinking milk daily, especially among children. The Drink Milk campaign also promoted eating fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and getting outside. Today’s post is an article published in May 1922 that reports on the nationwide success of the Drink Milk campaigns of 1920 and 21.


Lithograph Poster 1920s

Milk Makes A Difference

From Maine to California, from Canada to the Gulf, milk campaigns have been the order of the day. Practically every woman’s organization in the country has taken a part in them somewhere and there is probably not a single state that has not had a least one campaign. As a result of these milk campaigns in our large cities, towns, villages, and the most isolated rural communities we find the children playing the popular health games and drinking their daily allotment of milk.

The need for such campaigns is not confined to any one class. Not only from the poorest homes, where economic pressure is so great that the family cannot afford the needed milk but also from the homes of great wealth, where the lack is due to ignorance of a child’s needs, come the lads and lassies whose frail bodies and pale cheeks betray a lack of proper food. And the only magic that can round out the hollows in the little bodies and can bring the roses to their cheeks is the magic wielded by the milk fairies.

The gospel of more milk has been preached with every possible device to appeal to childish imaginations, for it has been the aim to make the children want to drink milk—not to force them to do it because “it is good for them.”

Cho Cho The Health Clown

Newspaper Clipping Announcing the Coming of Cho Cho the Health Clown 1921

One of the successful milk missionaries has been Cho Cho, the Health Clown sent by the Child Health Organization. After Cho Cho had visited North Dakota during a health campaign there, one small boy was asked to name the three greatest Americans. Without a moment’s hesitation, he replied, “George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Cho Cho.” Cho Cho has taught thousands of boys and girls who until they made his acquaintance, scorned milk and vegetables, to eat these blood-building foods. So popular has he become, that many communities which could not secure him, have trained health clowns of their own.

Cho Cho promoted several health rules:

  1. A full bath more often than once a week.
  2. Brushing the teeth at least once every day.
  3. Sleeping long hours with windows open.
  4. Drinking as much milk as possible, but with no tea or coffee.
  5. Eating some vegetables or fruit every day.
  6. Drinking at least four glasses of water every day.
  7. Playing outdoors every day.
  8. A bowel movement every morning.

If the small lad quoted above could have been one of the 3,000 school children in Utica, New York, or one of the 13,000 in Syracuse, New York, this past year, he would have been hard put to it to answer his question. No American lad could take Washington or Lincoln from such a list but what could he do for the third place when his affections were divided between Cho Cho, the Health Clown, and Happy, the Jolly Jester!

Memories of Cho Cho’s visit last year made the kiddies in these two cities look happily forward to milk week in 1921. They were not disappointed. They did not know exactly what would happen but at some time during the week, each roomful of children was thrilled to trembling, happy silence when a huge, shaggy trunk was carried on the platform in their rooms and then out of it tumbled Happy, greeting them with the jolliest grin and proceeding to tumble into their hearts. Happy is a ventriloquist, so he was able to make Charlie Carrot and Johnnie Spinach talk bewitchingly to the children and carry on a most lifelike conversation with one Harry a life-size rag doll. One small boy, trembling with excitement, asked Happy where he lived. He gravely replied, “42 Bath Tub Street.” Most of the children giggled with delight but one wee laddie gravely wrote the address down, with the evident desire to carry on such a delightful friendship by correspondence or even by a personal interview.

The Milky Way is the Best Way

This work has been just as popular and successful in the Pacific States as in those bordering the Atlantic. In Thurston County, Washington, over forty local organizations joined forces to make the milk campaign a success. The opening guns were fired—or the first milk bottle opened—on a Sunday evening when the regular service in the United Churches was turned over to a nutrition specialist from the State College, who preached an interesting health sermon and then showed the film of the Milk Fairy play.

Any person in Thurston County who did not know that a milk campaign was going on, must have been blind and deaf. Milk signs and milk slogans assailed eyes and ears at every turn. Fifteen store windows carried displays emphasizing the importance of milk; at intersections were huge milk bottles pointing out that the “milk way” was the “best way”; streetcar banners, milk bottle “stickers” for automobile windshields, and placards in restaurants all carried their milk message. During the week over 10,000 people listened to talks stressing the importance of milk in building healthy bodies.

Milk Fairy Pageant

In Iowa, during the year from July 1, 1920, to June 30, 1921, milk campaigns were put on in 32 counties. As a result of this work, the milk consumption in that State increased by approximately 1,112,664 quarts. These campaigns included the presentation of the Milk Fairy Pageant. One little girl in Sibley Co. went home and said, “Well, I don’t like milk but I am going to drink it anyway because I couldn’t be in the pageant—I’m too skinny!”

Not For Children Only–Milk Bar

At the great Timonium Fair held in Baltimore, Maryland, the “milk bar” was one of the most popular features of the occasion. Someone said in describing the drinks sold there, “they are the only drinks now sold across the bar that have the right kind of a ‘kick’ in them!” While their names might well have aroused the suspicion of any agent charged with the enforcement of the Volstead Act, their contents complied with the strictest requirements of both health and prohibition. Some of the drinks served were:

  • Guernsey Highball: ¾ cup milk, 2 Tablespoons vanilla syrup.
  • Jersey Fizz: ¾ cup milk, 2 Tablespoons pineapple syrup.
  • Timonium Racer: ¾ cup milk, 2 Tablespoons mint syrup.
  • Buttermilk Highball: ¾ cup milk 2 Tablespoons sugar, 2 Tablespoons lemon juice.

Milk Campaign in Cherry Hill, Michigan

One milk dealer in Wayne County, Michigan reports that in place of the one to two ten-gallon cans that he sold each day before the campaign held in the Cherry Hill community, he is now selling eight to ten cans and, in addition, is daily delivery ten or more pints of milk at the school so that some of the children can get the extra allotment of milk that they need to bring them up to normal.

Dry Cows Are The Problem

Shortly after the campaign in Topeka, Kansas, Miss Jessie Hoover, in charge of milk utilization work with the Dairy Division, U.S. Department of Agriculture, visited a rural school in the vicinity. In this school, all of the children except one family of three had gained weight through the increased use of milk. When the three were asked if they drank milk they said “No, Lady! Our cows are dry but Mother says just as soon as they come in we can drink milk too.” She was convinced!

It is an interesting fact that in not a single case, have the distributors of milk increased the price of their product as a result of the increased demand which invariably follows one of these campaigns.

Free Milk

In Warren, Ohio, the people who were to run the “milk bar” exhibit found it difficult to secure someone who would furnish the milk for their drinks. Finally, they approached a milk producer who agreed to furnish them with the milk without charge, if they in turn would agree to take over his skimmed milk and distribute it free to the children, giving each child all that he wanted so long as the supply lasted. They advertised that this free distribution would take place every afternoon from three to four o’clock. Half an hour early the line began to form. In four days, the daily amount given out increased from ten gallons to forty!

One newsboy well carried out the description of a small boy as “an appetite with a skin stretched around it” for he consumed ten glasses at the first sitting! Several small negroes brought quart bottles which they hid behind the milk booth. They took their places in line, received their individual glasses of milk, went around the booth, emptied the milk into the bottles, and started in all over again. By “repeating” a sufficient number of times they were able to fill their bottles as well as themselves.

Children’s Dairy Parade with Costumes

In Wheeling, West Virginia, the people in charge of the campaign took advantage of the universal love of a circus by staging a parade. The local box factory furnished large paper forms representing butter, milk bottles, and so forth. The children, wearing these forms, marched in squads of sixteen so arranged that they formed legends relating to the use of milk.

Clipping from Popular Science Monthly February 1920

During this same campaign, a good deal of excitement was caused one morning by two painters who appeared before a great billboard in the heart of the city. One was wearing a huge pasteboard milk bottle bigger than himself; the other was a painted pasteboard baby costume. A crowd began to gather and soon reached such proportions that traffic was blocked and the traffic police had to be called out—lively milk-drinking advertising!

Afternoon Milk and Cookie Break

The importance of milk as food was tested out by a large yeast company. They observed that about the middle of the afternoon, their employees, numbering several hundred, showed weariness and an inability to keep the work going efficiently. To remedy this, at 3:30 every afternoon they are given a ten-minute period for relaxation and at the same time, each employee is served a glass of milk and a cookie. After a nine-month trial, the company reports: “We believe that the resulting increased health and efficiency among our employees is as high as 50%.”

Survey Says–Drink Milk

In a certain county of a state in the middle west, a survey of health conditions was made. In the rural section, the survey included 125 children. All of the families, except two kept cows, and yet only 11% of the children were drinking as much as one cup of milk each day. In a survey of a town in the same county, 136 children were included and it was found that 63% of them were drinking at least one cup of milk a day. These figures would seem to indicate that at all too many farms (in that vicinity at least) too large a part of the milk produced is sold.

Herbert Hoover, who fed 10,000,000 people (including 1,200,000 children) for four years (as director of the U.S. Food Administration), has said. “[Humans] cannot survive without the use of dairy products.” In many families, there is plenty of milk available but the children do not drink it “because they do not like it.” In practically every case this is a matter of habit. In such cases, the required amount of milk can be put into their diet in other forms such as milk soups, custards, whips, and so forth. Thousands of children who did not “like” milk at home have found that they do like it as soon as it is introduced into the school and public opinion among their playmates makes it “the thing” to drink a given amount daily.–Elizabeth Deane March


The above article was originally published in The Farmer’s Wife–A Magazine For Farm Women, February 1922, Page 710; Webb Publishing, St. Paul, Minnesota. Articles may be edited for length and clarity.

Electricity On Our Farm

Hello History Lovers!

Since many rural families didn’t get electricity until well into the 1930s, folks who had electricity on their farms in the early twenties were very modern. In January 1922, speaking on behalf of his wife as well as himself, Mr. Harper Christensen submitted an article to The Farmer’s Wife–A Magazine For Farm Women extolling the many advantages of having electricity. They found that electric lighting was beneficial inside the house, outside in the yard, and in the barns and garage. Modern electrical appliances helped in all facets of their life–in dairying and pig raising, with housework, and providing the lighting for family fun in the evening once the work was done.


Electricity On Our Farm

“Electric lights were installed on our farm nearly a year ago. Now we often wonder how we managed to get along without them, not alone for time and labor-saving but for pleasure, convenience, and cleanliness.

Last fall, a year ago, they erected a high line from Albert Lea to Alden, Minnesota, and the farmers received the privilege of connecting. There are thirty-three farms between Albert Lea and Alden electrically equipped.

Electric lights were installed on our farm nearly a year ago. Now we often wonder how we managed to get along without them, not alone for time and labor-saving but for pleasure,convenience, and cleanliness.
Electric Cream Separator (on right) 1920s

Electricity on the Dairy

Probably the greatest asset with an electrically equipped farm is on the labor-saving side. We milk with electricity, separate the milk with it, wash and iron with it, and in the near future expect to clean the house with electricity. Running the milking machine with a motor is surely much quicker and handier than a gasoline engine. Sometimes I have cranked the gas engine until I was blue in the face only to have to milk by hand, and the same applies to the cream separator with the motor attached—it runs much more smoothly and more even.

Electricity for Washing and Ironing

Washing clothes by hand is anything but pleasure but my wife says with an electric washer it is fun and says also that she never worries about washday anymore. The ironing is also easy as it takes but two minutes to heat the iron. You have to be careful and not get it too hot for it sure does get hot quickly and electricity is the hottest thing there is.

The Cost of Electricity

As a money-saving proposition, it is a benefit also because with gas and kerosene at the present prices, you could not begin to do what we are doing with electricity for the same money. We pay ten cents per kilowatt-hour for the first 500 kilowatt-hours and for what we use over that is seven cents per kilowatt-hour. We probably will use about 750 kilowatt-hours per year costing us about $67.50.

The Benefit of Electric Lighting

As for convenience and pleasure, it has no equal: there are no lamps to fill, no lanterns to clean. All you have to do is to press a button or turn a switch and you have a real light, not half a light. You save your eyes too as you do not have to strain them to see. We have a yard light situated right in the center of all the buildings with a hundred-watt lamp in it and it is light as day when it is turned on. We now can play horseshoes till eleven o’clock—all on account of the lights!

Also, we have the garage lighted up with a cord about 20 feet long attached to the switch so the light can be placed anywhere on the automobiles. The light in the hog house has probably saved us the most money—when the sows are farrowing, we have the lights on and we believe have thereby saved quite a few little pigs from being killed.

Electrical Safety

Above all, if anyone is figuring on installing electric lights, he should have the wiring done by experts so as to avert possible accidents.”

The above article was originally published in The Farmer’s Wife–A Magazine For Farm Women, January 1922, Page 677; Webb Publishing Company, St. Paul, Minnesota. Articles may be edited for length and clarity.

Cookbook Lady’s Spanish Rice

Recently I published a post titled Behold! The Power of Cheese that featured recipes from the October 1926 issue of THE FARMER’S WIFE — A MAGAZINE FOR FARM WOMEN. The article was promoting the use of cheese for its flavor, versatility and nutritional value. A recipe called Cheese-Tomato Rice, which uses cheese as a garnish, reminded me of my Spanish Rice recipe because of the similar ingredients. It is interesting how much more flavor we like in our food compared to what was acceptable one hundred years ago. Whenever I serve this dish to company or at a potluck, I get a request for the recipe so I thought I would share it here. It is a great side dish for most any Mexican or Tex-Mex entree, just be sure to garnish with plenty of cheese. Enjoy!


Cookbook Lady's Spanish Rice

  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Print


  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 large jalapeno, seeded and diced
  • 1–2 bell peppers, any color, diced
  • 1/2 large sweet onion, diced
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. Mexican oregano
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1-1/2 cups long-grain rice, rinsed (not cooked)
  • 1 (15 oz.) can fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained (optional)
  • S&P to taste
  • Shredded Mexican Blend cheese for garnish


In a large Dutch-oven, over medium heat, saute jalapeno, bell peppers and onion in oil until onion is translucent. Stir in cumin oregano, coriander and garlic powder. Add rinsed rice to the spice and vegetable mixture and saute for two minutes.

Add canned tomatoes, chicken stock, salt and sugar; bring mixture to a simmer. Cover tightly, place Dutch-oven in oven and bake at 350* for 16 to 20 minutes or until rice is tender, stirring halfway through cooking time.

Remove from oven and allow rice to stand for five minutes. Toss in chopped cilantro, drained black beans and season to taste. Garnish with plenty of cheese.

Recipe Compliments of cookbooklady.com

Behold! The Power of Cheese

The American Dairy Council’s slogan from the late nineties — “Behold! The Power of Cheese” — would have been the perfect title for the one-hundred-year old Farmer’s Wife article below. Home cooks from the 1920s were well aware of the ability of cheese to elevate any meal through both flavor and nutrition. During WW I, just a few years prior to this issue’s publication, the U.S. government promoted using cheese as a meat substitute on the home front so that beef could be made available to feed the US troops. By then American cheddar cheese was readily available even in rural areas and a good value for money. So common was cheddar, in fact, that it was referred to rather casually in old recipes and cookbooks as “cheese”, “American” cheese (not meaning the processed cheese of today), “store” cheese, “dairy” cheese or “yellow” cheese. Softer cheeses were available as well, with cream cheese being wildly popular during the 20s and 30s. Dairy women frequently made their own cottage cheese (recipe below) and often served it as part of a salad with fruits and/or vegetables. (It was not until reading the article below that I heard of garnishing cottage cheese with conserves or marmalade). For special occasions, such cheeses as Camembert, Roquefort, Edam and Swiss would have been available, but were a luxury most rural folk could ill afford.

I hope you enjoy reading “Cheese Is Choice”

Dutch or Cottage Cheese

Cheese Is Choice — It Should Be Used As A Staple Food

By Edith M. Barber

Cheese for “trimming” other less savory foods and for making leftovers go farther is indeed a boon to the cook. How often it helps answer that ever-present question “What shall we have for supper?” Sometimes it serves to flavor a white sauce to pour over hard-cooked eggs on toast or to cover raw eggs in a baking dish which is set in the oven until the eggs are firm. Sometimes cheese sauce is used with vegetables such a cauliflower or cabbage, which are then covered with crumbs and baked until brown. Escalloped vegetable with cheese has a certain “body” which makes it satisfying as a main luncheon or supper dish.

A dish of fresh cottage cheese on the table will supplement the summer vegetables and fruits which we like to use lavishly in their season. It occasionally may be varied by mixing with cut chives or chopped onions, or surrounded with preserves or garnished with jelly.

The fancy cheeses which have more distinct and individual flavors lend themselves to occasional use but for every day, the plain American or cottage cheeses are the most satisfactory. Cottage cheese in its own form can be digested easily by children, as well as by the older members of the family, but the richer cheeses which contain more fat should always be diluted for the children and often for the rest of the family. Mixed with other blander foods such as white sauces, vegetables and rice or macaroni, cheese should appear often on the table.

Toasted Cheese with Bacon

Slice bread one-half inch thick and cover with thin slices of cheese. Sprinkle with salt and paprika and lay two slices of bacon on each piece. Place in dripping pan and bake in hot oven (400 degrees F.) until bacon is crisp and cheese is melted. If you have a use for hard bread crumbs, the crusts may be removed from the bread, dried and ground.

Stuffed Tomatoes with Cheese

  • 6 tomatoes
  • 3 c. bread crumbs
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tbsp. chopped onion
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • Cheese

Remove the pulp from tomatoes and mix with crumbs. Cook onion in butter one minute and mix with crumbs and seasonings. Stuff tomatoes and bake in moderate oven (350 degrees F.) ten minutes. Remove from oven and cover with slices of cheese. Return to oven until cheese is melted and serve at once. This same recipe may be used for peppers.

Corn and Cheese Souffle

  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 3 tbsp. flour
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • Paprika
  • 1 c. milk
  • 1 ½ c. canned corn
  • ½ c. grated cheese
  • 3 eggs

Melt butter and blend with flour. Add milk and seasoning and cook until smooth and thick. Mix egg yolks, cheese and corn and add to sauce. Fold in beaten whites and bake in greased dish in pan of hot water in moderate oven (350 degrees F.) about twenty minutes until set. One-half cup chopped ham may be used instead of corn.

Quick Supper Dish

  • ½ lb. soft cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. mustard
  • Black pepper
  • Paprika
  • 1 c. milk or more

Cut or break cheese into large greased pie pan. Break eggs on top and sprinkle with mixed seasoning. Add milk to cover cheese and mix all together with fork. Bake in moderate oven (350 degrees F.) about fifteen minutes until cheese is melted and mixture is set.

Cheese-Tomato Rice

  • 4 c. boiled rice
  • 1 small can tomatoes
  • Salt
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 3 tbsp. bacon fat
  • Pepper
  • ¼ lb. cheese

Cook onion in bacon fat one minute and add to rice, mixing lightly with fork. Add tomatoes, season to taste and place in greased baking dish. Cut cheese in thin slices and place on top. Bake on hot oven (450 degrees F.) until cheese is melted.

Pinwheel Cheese Biscuit

  • 3 c. flour
  • 5 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp. fat
  • ¾ – 1 cup milk
  • 1 c. grated cheese
  • Paprika

Sift together flour, salt and baking powder, rub in fat and add enough milk to make dough soft enough to roll. Roll into oblong one half inch thick and sprinkle with cheeses and paprika. Roll like jelly roll and cut into inch pieces. Place close together in pie pan with cut side up. Bake in hot oven (450 degrees F.) about fifteen minutes until brown.

Grape Conserve

  • 4 qts. grapes
  • 6 oranges
  • 3 lbs. raisins
  • 1 lb. nuts (not peanuts)

Pulp the grapes, cook until soft, put through colander and add skins, oranges and raisins. To every cup of mixture add a cup of sugar and cook to desired consistency. The nuts are added just before removing from fire.

Grapefruit Marmalade

  • 2 grapefruit
  • 2 oranges
  • 2 lemons
  • Sugar
  • Water

Slice fruit very thin, removing seeds but not rind. It is easier to slice on a board. Fruit may be put through food chopper if preferred; this saves time but the product is not so perfect. To each pound of fruit, add three pints of water. Place in an enamel bowl and let stand for twenty-four hours. To each pound, add one pound of sugar and cook slowly until thick and clear. Test by chilling a little on a saucer. Do no overcook. Pour into sterilized glasses or jars, and seal.

The above article was originally published in The Farmer’s Wife — A Magazine For Farm Women, October 1926, Page492; by Webb Publishing Company, St. Paul, Minnesota

In The Dairy

Imagine being able to sell your high-quality, homemade butter for a dollar a pound when the going rate at the local grocer was fifty to sixty cents. That’s what Mrs. Foster was able to do in 1921 giving her a little extra “pin money”. She even took home first prize in the county’s Better Butter Contest — a purebred heifer named Blue Fobes Olive.

Better Butter Contest

Bernice H. Irwin

NINETY-SIX representative Spartanburg County, S.C. women entered last year’s Better Butter Contest, which ended at the county fair with the award of eighteen prizes. To bring up the standards of butter in their county was the aim of the contest conducted under the leadership of Mrs. Harriet Johnson, Home Demonstration Agent. Mrs. R.W. Foster of Roebuck made the highest score and lead off the purebred heifer – “Blue Fobes Olive”. Mrs. D.A. Stewart came second and Mrs. R.C. Burnett third.

In preparation for the judging, butter demonstrations were given in sixteen communities by Mrs. Harriet Johnson, Home Demonstration Agent and Miss Elizabeth Forney, State Dairy Specialist from Winthrop College. Printed instructions were distributed covering such practical topics as: Production Of Clean Milk And Cream, Care Of Cream, Ripening And Souring Of Cream, Churning Temperature, Preparing The Churn, Straining And Coloring, Kind of Churn, Churning, Washing Butter, Salting and Working Butter, Printing The Butter, Washing The Cream.

Study of equipment resulted in the installation of many square molds, butter workers, thermometer and barrel churns. Study of methods resulted in such improved butter that the grocery men of the county commented most favorably upon butter brought to them for sale even when the producer did not enter the contest. So wide did their fame spread that Mrs. Foster was surprised one morning to have a stately stranger for the city drive up to her door and offer her a dollar a pound for her butter, this at a time when butter was selling for fifty and sixty cents.

Once a month for six months a pound of butter from each contestant was sent or brought to the Chamber of Commerce building and there scored by experts. Points on score cards were: Flavor 45, texture 25, color 15, salt 10, package 5. The average score of butter entered was 91%. These meetings were attended by from fifty to one hundred women from all parts of the county and some special feature each time made them doubly interesting. A trip to a model dairy was very much enjoyed but the real day was the Saturday when the women of Spartanburg Chamber of Commerce entertained at a luncheon for all contestants. The same spirit of cooperation and friendliness between town and country people which has brought good roads, good industries and good homes to town and county prevailed at this crowning event of the contest and everyone voted their six months of work and play together an unparalleled success socially as well as educationally.

The above article was originally printed in The Farmer’s Wife – A Magazine for Farm Women, October 1921, page 586, Webb Publishing Company, St. Paul, Minnesota