Monday, October 19, 2009

Canadian Milk Bags!

About a month ago I took it upon myself to entertain an American guy who was working on a project here in London where I work. I always feel kind of sorry for people who travel a lot for work when Friday night comes along, so I took him to a London Knights hockey game. We had a really good time, and talked about some of the little differences between Canada and the US.

The thing that blew his mind more than just about anything else was that in Canada, we often buy our milk in bags rather than cartons or plastic jugs. This poor guy had picked up some bag milk thinking there were going to be some sort of caps or openings he could pour it from built right into the bags, and then felt stupid when he got the bags back to his lodgings and couldn't really do anything with them. So, in the interest of Canada/US relations, here's a quick primer on using Canadian milk bags.

Here in Ontario, bag milk comes in one big bag that holds three smaller bags. All three put together is 4 Litres (1 US Gallon) of milk, which means that one bag is equal to 1.33 L or 1.4 US quarts of milk.



When my friend opened the big bag and found the that the three single bags inside were just plain sealed plastic, he didn't know what the hell he was supposed to do with them. Who can blame him? He didn't know that people who buy bag milk have pitchers at home that are specifically designed to hold them. They are available for purchase right near the milk in the grocery store, most often hanging by their handles off the fixtures above the milk shelves. They look like this:




There is one important thing to know about using bag milk. Do not cut the corner of the bag until AFTER you have dropped it into the pitcher and banged the pitcher on the counter or table to seat the bag properly. As you might imagine, doing this bit out of order can be messy.



I am rather uptight about how the corner of a milk bag is cut. A clean, smallish cut is the best way to achieve a smooth and neat flow. The easiest way to achieve such a cut is with a little milk bag cutter thing:


Rantwick's actual milk bag cutter. I insist on the "snippit" brand, because I love my family.


Second best is with a pair of sharp scissors, and third best is with a knife. Depending on the knife used, you can end up with scraggly torn plastic that causes drips. I know, because despite my obsessiveness about a good cut, my laziness has often won out and I've used whatever was closest to hand, including crummy knives. Last, I guess if you were really stuck, you could use your teeth. I have never done that.

In conclusion, please note that drinking milk straight from the bag is an acquired skill, and should not be undertaken lightly.

Well there you have it; Rantwick's primer on the use of bag milk. If even one less American or other traveller to Canada is spared the mind-blowing impact of such a bizarre thing thanks to this post, it will have been worth it.


Yer Pal,


R A N T W I C K

26 comments:

lifein360 said...

Funny. Not a lot of my cycle team have kids so most of us don't even drink milk. Seems all we drink is power gels and gatorade. ;)

Rantwick said...

360 - I am firmly in kid-land, but even if I weren't I would still need lots of milk. Not too handy on a ride, though, unless I was trying to make butter or something...

Keri said...

Fascinating!

Is there a history for why milk is sold in bags in Canada? Is it sold that way in other countries?

Rat Trap Press said...

Wow, thats alot of work to go through just to drink a glass of milk.

Are there pictures of missing children on the bags?

Rantwick said...

Keri,

I was curious whether we were the only ones too... the best info I found was at wikipedia, of course... link

Rantwick said...

RTP - It's really no big deal once you know the drill.

Kevin said...

I could have sworn that some of my friends from Michigan have milkbags, as well other northern states. Of course, this has been immortalized in Five Iron Frenzy's song Let's Go to Canada: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9QgSuVJ7Jpg at about 1:25.

lifein360 said...

Oh ya, did you introduce him to Smarties? Most US'er don't know what they are. MMMM do YOU eat the red ones last?

Rantwick said...

Kevin - I haven't ever noticed when I've been in Michigan... perhaps some of my esteemed American readers will comment if they've seen them anywhere in the US...

360 - The difference in junk food, particularly chocolate bars and stuff, used to be one of the major selling points of going to the States when I was kid... and to answer your question, no, I don't even note the colour as I injest them by the handful or tiny halloween boxful.

ChipSeal said...

Have you ever allowed the customizer to open a bag of milk?

He could find a few improvements for a milk bag cutter, no doubt!

Rantwick said...

ChipSeal - If I ever have need of some sort of milk bag sprinkler system, I'll let the customizer know... until then, I'll just pray he never figures out how to open the fridge.

Big Oak said...

You know, when you think about it, milk is produced in bags (with nipples attached) so why wouldn't a perfectly rational society sell milk in bags? Makes sense to me, anyway.

I've worked on a couple different dairy farms and have had the luxury of drinking whole milk right out of the bulk tank. That's the best!

We have Smarties here in Indiana, and I've been eating them for most of my 47 years. I love 'em.

I appreciate your work to improve international understanding! Keep your stick on the ice!

Rantwick said...

Big Oak - you seem like a very sensible, culturally aware milk lovin' person. Thanks for the note.

Steve A said...

Y'all are seeming more bizarre than usual today! Milk bags. Next thing you know, he'll be talking about stewed tomatoes & cold toast...

Rantwick said...

Steve - Hey man, I didn't invent them. I have also never heard of anyone eating stewed tomatoes on toast. Maybe I'm a bad Canadian...

Anton said...

I was in the Peace Corps in Ukraine. Milk is sold in bags there, too. In Singapore, take-away coffee comes in little bags, with straws and rubber bands so you can hang the bag from something.

Rantwick said...

Anton - that's really cool, both the note on Ukraine and Peace Corps work. Hanging bag-o-coffee action is also pretty damn neat. I think it is very interesting, the way we all tend to think of our local way as being the "right" way... thanks very much for your comment.

Chandra said...

rantwick,
superb post. i remember buying a few gallons of milk (less than 5 in over a year) while i lived in ontario. a&p was my favorite grocery store,

keri,
about 18 years ago, i have seen milk sold in plastic bags, in india.

there was also a recycling program for the milk bags, if my memory serves me right.

i wonder if the bags use less plastic than the jugs.

peace :)

frilly said...

Bizarre. I have never heard of such a thing.

I came here for a lapdance.

Paul said...

Try making a second cut in the other top corner. You'll never go back to a single cut.

Rantwick said...

Frilly - I've never met a girl who was into grey-faced men... you must need that lapdance pretty bad. Well, here goes... unka unka ch ch unka unka ch...

How did I do?

Rantwick said...

Paul - I'm gonna try it, very next bag.

frilly said...

I'd give it an 8. Only $42 left.

Rantwick said...

Frilly - Wow, I made $8 for that? It's tempting to try to get that remaining $42, but I'm afraid I'm hanging up my lapdancing skates. What would my mother say?

Shash said...

I was telling my American friends all about our milk bags and to prove it took a picture and posted it on my facebook wall. Someone asked me about the snippet, sadly I lost mine years ago but I googled and found you! :) I just think it's funny. Thanks for posting about this strange Canadian treat.

Rantwick said...

Shash - My pleasure, and thanks for visiting!

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