Folded Paper Milk Carton

From Ohio History Central

During the first decade of the 1900s, G. W. Maxwell developed the first paper milk carton. Workers manufactured these cartons by hand, including gluing them together. The paper was coated in paraffin wax to make them waterproof. Over the next two decades, paper milk carton manufacturers increasingly found dairies that preferred the cheaper paper cartons over glass ones to package milk.

Despite the increasing popularity of paper milk cartons, the cartons had some drawbacks. The major problem centered on the fact that paper milk cartons currently in use were preformed, meaning that they left the factories ready to be filled. Already formed cartons caused storage difficulties for dairy owners. These cartons also cost the dairy owners more money, as the cartons took up more space, increasing transportation costs.

Toledo, Ohio, resident and toy factory owner John R. Van Wormer sought to develop a paper milk carton that arrived at the dairy flat. When dairy producers needed a carton, they could then unfold the carton, glue it together, and package the milk. Van Wormer received a patent for his folded paper milk carton, which he called "Pure-Pak," on November 16, 1915. He spent the next decade developing machinery that could manufacture the carton, dramatically speeding up the process. By 1929, Van Wormer had developed a machine capable of manufacturing his carton, and that same year, the American Paper Company purchased Van Wormer's patent and machine. By 1950, this firm was producing twenty million paper milk cartons per day.

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