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Milk in a Bag

I learned something new ... and disturbing about our neighbors to the North. It turns out that you can buy milk in plastic bags in Canada.

How do you drink from plastic bags? Sheryl from Pinc Stuff explains in this short YouTube video clip over at TYWKIWDBI: Link

Crazy, eh?

Previously on Neatorama: Beer in a bag


We buy milk in jugs in British Columbia. But since i've moved to Quebec I've been introduced to the milk-in-a-bag idea. It takes some getting used too, but is totally manageable.
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Back in the dark ages when I was in (US) grade school, they served us milk all the time in sealed plastic baggies. (Much smaller than the ones in the video) Each baggie came with a sharpened plastic straw, which you jabbed in and drank through.
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Strange, I went to elementary and high school in Wisconsin, and we always drank our milk from plastic bags. Only recently found out it's apparently common in Canada.
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I grew up on the east coast of Canada. We always drank milk from a bag. I really never thought about it after moving away to BC, but it is a little strange. You open the bag by cutting off a corner of it and then putting the bag in a plastic holder. You can even get fridge magnets that bag openers!
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Well, here in Brazil milk in bags was very common few years ago. We still have it, but now cartons spread out.

I don't know in Canada, but here it expires very quickly.
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I live in BC and used to get milk in a bag all of the time. I haven't seen it sold that way in well over 20 years in BC. I kinda miss it. :)
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I've never understood why Americans (or anyone from anywhere without bagged milk, for that matter) can't grasp the concept of milk in a bag. If I had to choose between a carton, jug or bag I'd choose a bag every time; it's space-saving because the standard milk jug is thinner than a large carton of milk.

What's not to love? Bagged milk is awesome.
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Oh yes. THOSE.

My middle school tried switching to bagged milk at our cafeteria in the mid-90's. They even showed us a little marketing video to introduce the product: "MiniSip - It's Maxi Cool!"

That went over great, let me tell you.
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Bagged milk? I guess if I had a suckling fetish it might be great. Otherwise, I wouldn't really care to hold the clammy, squishy bag and watch the milk squirt and spurt from it onto my cereal.
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silly americans! anytime you hear of something different that another country has been doing for years, it's "odd".

I used to buy milk in a bag, chocolate was the best. In some countries you can even buy milk in a box that doesn't have to be refrigerated and even here in the US if you know where to look.
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Might want to ask around before sounding so amazed at something that has been around forever. My aunt has bought milk in a bag since I was little and I live in Minnesota. It can currently be bought at Kwik Trip in my area.
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I grew up with milk in a bag. I thought it was weird when I found out that you couldn't get milk in a bag in other places. A jug seems so unweildy.

Also, it's much better for the environment. And we've had them for as long as I can remember, so at least as far bag as the mid-70s.

Another cool thing - you can slice open the top when the milk is done, rinse it out, and use it to wrap up cheese or other fridgy things like that.
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I'm from Quebec. Milk in a bag has always been around; it shows great advantage over the other type of container: better for the environment, no squishy residu on the spout and you can pierce several tiny holes to get a milk fountain! Milk bags are sold in 4 packs (2 liters x 4) so it's mainly for big families or heavy milk drinkers...

What about wine in a tetrapak? We have those too.
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I live in southern Michigan, and when I was younger (80's), we always bought milk in a bag from Quality Dairy. We had several oval-shaped pitchers specifically for bags of milk, you'd cut off the corner of the bag, and put the bag in the pitcher. Was skinnier than a gallon jug. I don't remember when exactly they stopped packaging that way though.
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When I was in elementary school late 90s this is how they served us our milk. You stabbed it with a straw a la capri sun and hoped you didn't stab right through and make a mess. Which is a lot to ask from a kindergartener
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I know others have mentioned it, but I too had to look like an idiot and drink milk out of a pouch in elementary school... WTF.. kids are too dumb to open cartons anymore..

this is how it worked: we would have a 5" x 5" clear plastic bag filled with either 1%, 2% or chocolate (only on special occasions) milk and would be accompanied with a thin straw with pointy end on it... we then would have to jam the straw into this pouch of liquid hoping that it wouldn't go through the other side.. again this is a 3-D pouch... you had to be careful..

so ridiculous... I like my drinks in containers not pouches... yes some would argue that pouches are containers.. but no, not for drinks people! common! Go Canada for continuing to be outsiders.. lol
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I love those cultural differences : coming from France where we use the 1 liter Tetrapak (like the Parmalat one people use outdoors) we found the gallon jug too big, quite inconvenient and it could go to waste quickly. Then like everybody else it became our way of life ;)
We also found out about ready chocolate milk in gallons. Those are killer yums! Hail Trumoo!
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Mexico also has had milk that comes in bags since circa the late 70s, but its distribution is exclusive of the government-owned business named Liconsa, part of the Social Development Department.

Nowadays (less than 2 years ago) Liconsa has started to use TetraPak in order to put the product on supermarket shelves, but people still prefers the milk in bags and acquiring it on Liconsa-owned neighbourhood stores
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Here in New Zealand we've had milk in bags for years. I think the milk company gave away plastic jugs that you could slide your milk bag into and then cut a corner of the bag to pour.
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the bags disappeared about 10 years ago in Vancouver Canada but in Winnipeg in the 90's you could also buy soaps / laundry detergent in a bag to refill your container + there used to be milk so processed that you could store it on the rad in the kitchen and it would NOT go bad (my dad liked worm milk in his tea)
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As a born and bred Californian, I was utterly fascinated by this video. I have -never- heard of milk in a bag before. If someone had told me that Canadians get their milk in bags, I would have thought that they were joking.

What a strange concept!
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Yah back in middle school, here in Ohio, we had milk in a bad as well. It was meant to save landfill space. That was about 15 years ago, so it has been around for a while.
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In Denmark we had milk in bags in the 1970s, but it went away again. Probably because you had to have a special milk-in-bag pitcher also: http://i2-images.tv2.dk/i/80/12222980-0ad99f83c06a2479cacbb21d33990c9f.jpeg
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The bags come three inside a larger bag. We freeze two for use later; no problem. As someone said, bags are more environmentally friendly, apparently. And you can still buy single liters in a carton should you choose.
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we only drank from small plastic bags at My elementary school in ohio. Sometimes there were milk disasters if you put the straw in the wrong way.
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I live in the U.S. and local dairies sell the bag milk in all sorts of sizes. There's a special pitcher that holds the bag. You cut one corner off to pur and to close you just pull the open corner into a slit in the end of the pitcher which holds it close. Bag milk doesn't have any cardboard taste. It also freezes nice.
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I live in St. Paul, MN, and I drink my milk from a bag daily. It comes in a square bag (we buy ours from Kwik Trip convenience store). You put it in a pitcher and cut the corner. Voila--milk from a bag that is significantly cheaper and better tasting than milk from a plastic carton.
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Weird, I always assumed milk in bags was common! I'm 27, and I grew up drinking milk bought in bags!! (In New Brunswick, Canada). You can also buy milk in cartons, of course, but the bagged milk was available in larger quantities (usually 3 bags in a bigger bag, giving you at least 3 or 4 liters of milk, if not more). As some people have mentioned, you buy a special pitcher that holds the bag, cut one corner of the bag (gotta be careful not to make the cut too big or too small), and then you just pour the milk normally. You could also buy little single serving bags of juice (called mini-sips I think), but I never saw mini bags of milk. Only big ones.
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Milk-in-a-bag is the most normal, mundane thing I've ever seen on Neatorama! As long as it was "neat" for someone, that's great. I live in Ontario, Canada and yes, this is how I buy milk. It's half the price of buying it in cartons. No one yet has commented on the awful occurrence of a bag leaking in the fridge. When that happens (it's very rare), it is NOT GOOD! I have three of those plastic milk bag holder jugs, and immediately upon purchasing a new 4L "bag of bags" will put the three milk bags in their holders. That way, any leakage will be contained. Another poster mentioned punching holes and making a "milk fountain" instead of just cutting off the corner. Here's another fun one... cut two small notches, one on each side of the bag tip. A stream of milk will come out on each side, making a V shape... fine for the cereal bowl but not good if you're aiming at a teacup!
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Milk will go bad quickly if it has a higher percentage of fat in it. If it is skim or non-fat, it will stay good longer than 2% or higher.

We very quickly learned to tell the difference between good and bad milk in our family. And if there was any doubt, we would pass the milk jug to my dad (the food scientist) for the sniff test...

-In Ontario
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Goofy Americans with our predetermined notions that what is commonplace for us is commonplace the world over.

I still remember being caught quite off guard when I first moved to Brasil and was introduced to tetrapak and later milk in bags. I still want to find 1L baggies of drinkable strawberry yogurt here in the States to pour on my cereal.
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They have the milk bags in Argentina, too, and I wouldn't be surprised if in much of the rest of So. America. And they have these nifty reusable plastic pitchers that hold the milk bag up and help you pour it :)
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As someone who a) grew up with bagged milk and b) loves to drink out of the carton when it comes to other beverages it took a number of years to perfect the technique of drinking out of the milk bag. I imagine that today I am one of a small number of people who can count it as a skill.

Another think about bagged milk: sometimes if the bag is full the weight of the milk will overpower the shape of the bag causing the bag to "bend" when you are pouring milk and far to much milk to escape via the hole. That is why you always hold the top, handle side corner of the bag while pouring.
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The brand I buy, the plastic milk bags are tinted blue. I always thought that was so you could find that snipped corner triangle of plastic if it dropped on the floor, (they are are a choking hazard for children!) But maybe the darkened bag helps preserve the contents much like coloured vs. clear glass beer bottles?
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yup they are pretty handy. way easier than the jugs they have out west. You can still buy the jugs here in Ontario too but it's cheaper and easier in the bags. And no you don't drink it straight out of the bag.

Also, milk quality in Canada is far superior to that of the States. Something about a higher amount of smaller farms vs. the large factory farms in the States.
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When I was little we always got milk in a bag and we had a plastic pitcher that was designed to fit the bags and you just cut the corner off the bag and put it in the jug and pour. However, I have not seen milk in a bag since i was 5 or 6.
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I can't believe someone needed to know HOW to drink milk from a bag.

The milk is better up here because there are no hormones in the milk or fed to the cows.
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Tara
Feb 4th, 2010 at 10:42 am

"Geez I can't believe how many people actually think you suck the milk straight out of the bag. =/"

I drink my milk from the bag when I run out of clean glasses
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I've seen these before in a few places here in California. Very rare, but I've seen them. They're usually from small organic farms. I never thought much of them until now.
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Yes, Canadians actually suck the milk out of the bags. It's a more natural way of processing the milk, as it closely approximates the breastfeeding experience.

We just sit here in our igloos all day long, sucking bags of milk.
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I live in wisconsin and buy milk in bags from kwik trip. no big deal. they have orange juice in bags too. there is a stand next to the refrigerator case that has the plastic jug things you drop the milk bag into, those are free...and they are awesome. i use them to scoop dog food, to spread ice-melt on the sidewalk, for bird seed...very handy :)
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I grew up in Alberta, and totally recall the milk bags. As stated with other commenters, we had a plastic pitcher which was perfectly shaped to hold the bag and pour milk from it when you cut the corner off at an angle. Been eons since I had seen them. But with the resurgence of some old school pop shoppe pop I was delighted to finally see restored to my grocery store, it wouldn't surprise me if there's still some out here being sold. Now to await Happy Pop's revival...
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its far better in bags because you don't have to deal with the cardboard beak stikcy from dried milk thats annoying to open...
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I grew up in China buying milk packed in plastic bag. What's the big deal! I'm quite disappointed that Neatorama picked up such an ordinary thing....
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I grew up with bagged milk, but I prefer cartons. With bags, there is always the risk of milk disaster if the top flops over, as Michael D described. Also sometimes our fridge would drip condensation water into the space between the jug and the bag, and a little bit of this gross water would pour out of the jug when you poured the milk. Eww!
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In Latin America milk in bags is quite commonplace. In Colombia We can even get delactosed, slim, with added fiber milk in bags! (can't get that anywhere in the US) And it doesn't even have to be refrigerated :D
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It is funny, I guess it is an age thing. If you are old enough to remember the days when the milkman delivered milk to your door a few times a week, you will remeber that in the US 5 gallon milk bags were should, for those who drank a lot of milk.

I drank a lot of milk, and I still do. My mom brought three a week. One each time the milkman delivered!
What a surprise to see a 3 litre bag here in Mexico.

However, the problem is that the bag, itself, is plastic. Plastic,as far as I know, is still a pertroleum product. So, plastic is plastic.

Also, I think that you will find that there are, or use to be, very few contries that have the gigantic refridgerators, like the americans in the US. So, yes it is true, space can be a premium and it does take less energy to keep it cool. A Double win :-)
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@Chrissy

Silly Non-americans, always calling us as silly.

"Odd" is always a matter of perspective. One country can have been doing something a particular way for thousands of years, but to an outsider it may seem odd. As having milk in bags is not typical for Americans, it will appear odd. Odd does not necessarily mean it's a bad thing, just different. Things Americans do may appear odd to other countries just as things other countries do may appear odd to Americans. So of course Americans find it "odd" that some other countries drink milk out of bags, why?, because it isn't something they do.

I know back in elementary school, they used to serve us our milk and juice in little baggies similar to the ones in the video. The were pretty cool, we just stabbed the pointy little straw they gave us with it and drank it like that. It's been a long time since i was in elementary school though and I doubt they serve it like that anymore.
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