Take a Look at These Jugs

Perhaps you've heard -- or seen -- by now, but there's a new, plastic one gallon milk carton showing up in stores across the country, and it's going to blow your mind. Well, not really. But it is pretty cool.

A simple change in the shape of the carton and design of the handle is going to enable jugs to stack one atop another in transit and fit more snuggly side to side. It's a much more energy efficient design, not only because it saves space but also because it will eliminate the need for those bulky plastic milk crates. No milk crates equals less fossil fuels, and possibly lower milk prices down the line.

This piece in the New York Times talks debates the value of the new design, and - of all things - whether or not it's too difficult to pour. The most hilarious thing about the article (non intentional? Maybe, I have a strange sense of humor) are all the reactions that shoppers have to the new look. You'd think that with the cost of goods skyrocketing and all the emphasis placed on going green that people would be quick to adopt such an obvious improvement. Instead the article seems to suggest that folks are hesitant about buying milk in the new container. I don't see any reason to freaked out by the shape of a carton, but then again I don't even buy milk by the gallon.

So will these jugs show up in stores in South Florida anytime soon?

Well, they already have. I stopped into the Sam's Club by my house today and found out these squarish jugs have been on their shelves for over two months now.

I asked a young woman who was stocking the coolers in the dairy section what she thought about the new design, and she was all like, "Meh." On one hand, she says, stocking the coolers is much easier, because she used to have to unload milk out of the crates and stick them on metal shelves; now the jugs come on cardboard palates that can be taken straight off the truck and shoved as is behind the reach in doors. Cool. On the other hand, shoppers tend to reach for the jugs closest to the bottom of the cooler (looking for the best dates, natch), and sometimes that causes the stacks to topple. She assured me that part sucks.

As far as people going ballistic over the "alien" look? I asked a couple who shops there regularly if they find the look strange or if they have problems pouring with it. "Nope," they said. "We like to save them and use them to water our garden."

Over at Publix, the managers hadn't even heard anything about new milk jugs. The store manager suggested I call Publix's dairy manufacturing plant in Deerfield and ask them if a change to the new design is on the docket. I gave them a call yesterday, and am waiting to hear the official word. We'll keep you posted; in the mean time, enjoy your milk, possibly with cookies.

-- John Linn

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