Wednesday, December 27, 2017

The Sidney Wanzer & Sons Creamery of Chicago. (1857-1963)

Sidney Wanzer (1834-1906) was the son of Nicholas and Betsey (Hill) Wanzer. Sidney and his parents followed his oldest brother Moses to Dundee Township in Kane County, Illinois, about 1840. He married Jane Bradley, the daughter of William S. Bradley from Fairfield, Vermont, on October 22, 1857, in Elgin, Illinois.
Sidney began hauling his 'country-fresh' milk from the farms in the Elgin and Dundee areas to Chicago in 1857. He later partnered with his brother to form the Wanzer Dairy in Chicago.
They pioneered the use of glass milk bottles, scientific testing to determine the butterfat content of milk, mechanical refrigeration for milk storage, and applied the pasteurization process invented by Louis Pasteur to kill bacteria in milk.
Sidney Wanzer & Sons' main plant was at Garfield Boulevard (55th Street) at the Dan Ryan Expressway in Chicago and two other southside plants. Wanzer also had a north-side distribution center on Lawrence Avenue between Ravenswood and  Wolcott.

Wanzer had ten children: Luna, Bertha E., William Bradley, Bessie, Howard Hill, Sidney, Jennie L., Breddie, Arthur Grant, and Charles. They all lived in Chicago.

In November 1948, Wanzer Dairy began publishing the "Wanzer's Kitchen Adventures" magazine with stories and recipes using milk, cream, and other Wanzer products. The magazine's last issue was April 1951.

Carmelita Pope (a Broadway Theatre actress and a pioneer in early television) was a spokesperson for 
Wanzer Dairy's Television commercials. Pope would hold up a half-gallon carton of milk and say, "Wanzer on milk is like Sterling on silver."
Northshore Milk Distribution Wanzer Truck after the blizzard of 1967.
Photo by Charles Chernawsky

Wanzer was sold to the Borden Dairy Company in the 1970s. In April 1999, Hawthorn Mellody Inc. tried to Trademark "Wanzer Dairy" but failed to complete the request.

Wanzer Dairy Toy 1953 Ford Milk Truck.
Wanzer Milk Box - Holds 4 One Gallon Glass Bottles, 1966
Wanzer Glass Milk Gallon, 1950s.
100th Anniversary Paper Milk Carton, 1957.
106-Year-Old Wanzer Dairy was sold by Family Members in January 1963 in a multimillion-dollar transaction.

Have you ever wondered how milk dating began in Chicago, Illinois? We have Al Capone and older brother Ralph to thank.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.


  1. I remember my uncle delivering Wanzer milk with a horse-drawn carriage when I was little (born 1940), until I was 12 or so. I also remember that ad: "Wanzer on milk is like sterling on silver!" Precious memories!

  2. MY Dad began delivering Wanzer Milk back with a horse drawn truck. I was too young to remember that but I have several photos of him and his milk truck.

    1. Rose, please send your Dad's photos to me and I'll include them in the article.

    2. Do you know the names of sidney's grandchildren?

    3. Sidney's children:
      1.Mary Luna Wanzer
      2.Bertha Ellen Wanzer m. Amos Ryley - 5 children
      3.William Bradley Wanzer. His children Nellie Elma, Alta May, Claribel, Sidney III, Elsie Louise, Phyllis Katherine.
      4.Bessie Alta Wanzer m. Frank Peterson
      5.Howard Hill Wanzer m. Elma Jane Bridge. His children Evelyn Jane, Howard Stanley, Virginia Eleanor, Lucile Clarinda, Gordan Bradley, Beulah Mary,
      6.Sidney Wanzer Jr.
      7.Jennifer Lucia Wanzer m. Guy Guernsey
      8. Freddie Wanzer (infant death)
      9. Arthur Grant Wanzer m. Mabel Elizabeth Smith

  3. "Sam" was our Wanzer man. My grandfather would put me on his shoulders and walk me down that alley on Eberhardt on the South side of Chicago and ride the horse drawn wagon back to the house.

  4. We lived on 55th@Wentworth in 1950 thru mid 50s I can remember going to the wanzer milk plant for milk with my grandmother then going to the silver cup plant for bread on garfield blv. 55th st

    1. Two great products and memotied! BTW, Butternut Bakery was also in that neighborhood!

  5. I remember milk being delivered to our house in Berwyn in the 70s. I remember Wanzer milk being among he ever-changing brands that were delivered. I hadn't thought of Hawthorne Melody, mentioned in your article, for years. Thanks for the history.

  6. I went to WGN Studios with a group from school for a Kiddie- A Go-Go show and found out later I was the Wanzer Milk Maid from a cameraman close-up during a commercial break - 1968

  7. I lived in Wood Dale in the 1960's and remember the Wanzer man delivery in glass bottles left outside our porch door in a cooler a couple times a week. It was a terrific service.

  8. I remember playing baseball in the street in Posen in the 1960s and the wanser milk truck would chop chunks of ice for us to cool off !

  9. I found my way here after finding an old piece of glass with WANZER embossed along the Fox River in Algonquin! Super cool, especially since I'm an Elgin native


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