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An Indian milkman on his motorbike

A milkman is a delivery person who delivers milk, often directly to customers' houses, in bottles or cartons.



A 1920s apartment milk delivery door, from outside and from inside.

Milk was delivered to houses daily in some countries when a lack of good refrigeration meant milk would quickly spoil. Before milk bottles were available, milkmen took churns on their rounds and filled the customers' jugs by dipping a measure into the churn. The near-ubiquity of refrigerators in homes in the developed world, as well as improved packaging, has decreased the need for frequent milk delivery over the past half-century and made the trade shrink in many localities sometimes to just three days a week and disappear totally in others. Additionally, milk delivery incurs a small cost on the price of dairy products that is increasingly difficult to justify and leaves delivered milk in a position where it is vulnerable to theft.

Milk deliveries frequently occur in the morning and it is not uncommon for milkmen and milkwomen to deliver products other than milk such as eggs, cream, cheese, butter, yogurt, or soft drinks.

In some areas apartments and houses would have small milk delivery doors. A small wooden cabinet inside of the residence, built into the exterior wall, would have doors on both sides, latched but not locked. Milk or groceries could be placed in the box when delivered, and collected by the homeowner.

Truck drivers who transport milk from a farm to a milk processing plant are also known as milkmen or milkwomen. Raw milk is picked up daily, or every other day.[1]


Horse-drawn vehicles were originally used. These were still seen in Britain in the 1950s, and parts of the United States until the 1960s. Now, motorized vehicles are used.

Around the worldEdit


Dutch milkman in Haarlem, 1956

From the 20th century, milk delivery in urban areas of Europe has been carried out from an electric vehicle called a milk float.


In Australia, the delivery vehicle was usually a small petrol or diesel engined truck with a covered milk-tray. In hotter areas, this tray is usually insulated.[citation needed]


In India, those delivering milk usually use milk churns, a practice that has ceased in western countries. On the road they are put on any kind of vehicle. In big cities such as Mumbai, milk churns are often transported in luggage compartments in local trains.

In the Philippines, the milkman or milkmaid is called lechero. The tradition stemmed from the community production of carabao milk. The lechero delivers the fresh carabao milk to the barangay (village) of his or her designation. The lechero heritage used to be widely practiced in the country, however, declined after the introduction of store-bought milk during the American occupation period. Nowadays, only a few communities have lecheros, notably in Nueva Ecija province, the milk capital of the Philippines.[2]


In 2005, about 0.4% of consumers in the United States had their milk delivered, and a handful of newer companies had sprung up to offer the service.[3] Some U.S. dairies have been delivering milk for about a hundred years, with interest continuing to increase in the 2010s as part of the local food movement.[4]

In popular cultureEdit

In the Uganda region an often used title for "king" is "Omukama", which means "superior milkman/milk bringer": a title that refers to the role of the leader as a feeder of the people and the historical tradition that the ancient ruling class of some Ugandan kingdoms was of Hema stock, the Hema being cattle-holders.

The 1932 film Scarface, features a milkman.

The 1934 film It's a Gift, also features a milkman.

In the 1935 film The 39 Steps, Richard Hanney disguises himself as a milkman.

In the 1936 film The Milky Way and the 1946 remake, the protagonist, Burleigh Sullivan is a milkman.

The 1945 film The Lost Weekend, also features a milkman.

The 1949 film Jigsaw, also features a milkman.

The Milkman is a 1950 comedy film starring Donald O'Connor and Jimmy Durante.

The lead character of the 1964 stage musical Fiddler on the Roof, Tevye, is a milkman.

The Early Bird Film with Norman Wisdom portrays milk deliveries from the UK 1960's.

In the James Bond film The Living Daylights was the hitman Necros in a milkman disguise.

A short story in the horror anthology Skeleton Crew by Stephen King, called "Morning Deliveries (Milkman No. 1)", concerns a milkman who kills people by leaving "surprises" (including poison, toxic gas and venomous spiders) in their milk cans.

Reid Fleming, World’s Toughest Milkman is a comicbook character created by David Boswell which first appeared in 1980.

In Toni Morrison's novel Song of Solomon the main character's nickname is "Milkman."

The title of the 1966 pop hit "No Milk Today" by the British band Herman's Hermits refer to a common notice instructing the milkperson not to leave the usual order of milk on a particular day. In the song this symbolizes the singer's recent breakup with his love interest, who has just moved out of his house.[5]

In 1971, British comedian Benny Hill, himself a former milkman, had a hit novelty song called "Ernie (The Fastest Milkman In The West)".

In 1944, Ella Mae Morse had a US top 10 hit with Milkman, Keep Those Bottles Quiet, a song from the film Broadway Rhythm.

In the Doctor Who episode, The Stolen Earth, The Doctor and Donna meet a milkman.

The All That sketch "The Adventures of Superdude" features a villainous milkman called Milkman (portrayed by Josh Server) who is the archenemy of Superdude and uses milk-based weapons on Superdude as a way to take advantage of his lactose intolerance.



  1. ^ "New York Times". 2007-12-16.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Tahmincioglu, Eve (December 16, 2007). "Remember the Milkman? In Some Places, He's Back". Retrieved May 9, 2012.
  4. ^ Yes, you can still get milk delivered — and people are taking advantage
  5. ^ Ricci, Charlie. "Almost Hits: Herman's Hermits, "No Milk Today" (1967)". Retrieved 2014-03-10.

See alsoEdit

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