A Norman Rockwell-Worthy 1948 Film About Milk, From Cow to Ice Cream

By Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg

Triple Goodness, a promotional film from Foremost Dairies, celebrates the technological advances that modernized the dairy industry. The appeal of the film is its retro footage of a classic dairy farm and, of course, the milkman delivering glass bottles door to door. If you skip to the end, you'll see that paper milk cartons were a new and exciting development at the time.

This is just an excerpt from the 20-minute film, which is available in its entirety at the Prelinger Archive. These days, advances in the dairy industry hinge on genetics and complex data sets, as Alexis Madrigal writes in "The Perfect Milk Machine: How Big Data Transformed the Dairy Industry:"

Data-driven predictions are responsible for a massive transformation of America's dairy cows. While other industries are just catching on to this whole "big data" thing, the animal sciences -- and dairy breeding in particular -- have been using large amounts of data since long before VanRaden was calculating the outsized genetic impact of the most sought-after bulls with a pencil and paper in the 1980s.

Dairy breeding is perfect for quantitative analysis. Pedigree records have been assiduously kept; relatively easy artificial insemination has helped centralized genetic information in a small number of key bulls since the 1960s; there are a relatively small and easily measurable number of traits -- milk production, fat in the milk, protein in the milk, longevity, udder quality -- that breeders want to optimize; each cow works for three or four years, which means that farmers invest thousands of dollars into each animal, so it's worth it to get the best semen money can buy. The economics push breeders to use the genetics.

Read the full story here.

For more films from the Prelinger Archive, visit http://www.archive.org/details/prelinger.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/05/a-norman-rockwell-worthy-1948-film-about-milk-from-cow-to-ice-cream/256647/