Editor's Note: The Standard Democrat recently ran two photos of milk bottles and an inquiry about the verse printed on them. The following comments by Lonnie Standley was submitted to the newspaper in response to the inquiry.
The Milk Bottle Episode.
About the year 1940, when Reiss Dairy was located in a frame building at 523 East Malone Avenue in Sikeston, processed milk products were packaged in glass - that is all products except butter which was packaged in folded cardboard one pound cartons.
Reiss Dairy packaged processed milk in three sizes of cartons - 1/2 pint, pint and quart sizes. The bottles were purchased in shipments, when needed by the truckloads from glass bottle manufacturers. I can remember only two manufacturers - Owens-Illinois Glass and Liberty Glass Co. All manufacturers would apply sizes and the Dairy tradename on the bottle. We selected red as the color of this application. The name was more or less permanent, depending on the caustic washing material used and the wear and tear of constant use. One of the manufacturers told us we could place an advertising message on the opposite side of the bottle so here is where the applied verses began.
We decided we would ask our customers to help us advertise Reiss Dairy products. We placed a paid advertisement in the twice a week Sikeston Standard. We placed this advertisement only once, at a probable cost of less than $10. The size of the advertisement was two columns by eight includes for the single insertion. The advertisement read something like this:
Do you like to doodle
or write ditties?
Write your choice and bring it to the Reiss Dairy Office.
When you see your work
placed on a Reiss Dairy Milk Bottle
Bring the bottle to our Reiss Dairy Office
and collect $1.00 cash.
523 East Malone Avenue
This advertisement brought very slow results, but gradually interest increased and poems came in - in large numbers. As we placed ordered for new bottles, the poems were changed and new poems were selected.
We kept this program in effect until we changed milk packaging from glass to paper, which was in 1949, when we were in our new building at 526 S. Main Street in Sikeston.
I have no idea how many verses we received, but the ladies working in our office really enjoyed making the selections of verses when new orders for milk bottles were placed. They placed all verses as received in a big box and stored in a safe place.
When we began packaging milk in paper, we had milk bottles to destroy. We hauled milk bottles to the trash heap - truckloads of them. One lady told us that Reiss Dairy milk bottles are now valued at $150 on the Internet.