Wednesday, December 27, 2017

The Sidney Wanzer & Sons Creamery of Chicago. (1857-1970s)

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

Carmelita Pope (A Broadway Theater actress and a pioneer in early television) did TV commercials for Wanzer Dairy. She would hold up a 1/2 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 Borden's Milk in the 1970s. In April of 1999, Hawthorn Mellody Inc. tried to Trademark "Wanzer Dairy," but they 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. & 100 Year Anniversary Paper Milk Carton, 1957.

Ever wonder how milk dating began in Illinois? We have Al Capone and his brother Ralph to thank.

Compiled by 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?


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