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Milk bar

Milk bars probably originated in Australia in 1934 when the Burt Brothers opened the first milk bar in Martin Place Sydney. The following year an Australian, Hugh MacIntosh opened the first British milk bar on Fleet street, called the Black & White Milk Bar. The craze that gripped Australia soon spread throughout England with over 1,000 milk bars opening by the end of 1936. Milk bars were a place during the 1940s and 1950s where young people to buy food and non-alcoholic beverages[?] and to 'hang out' in safety. Milk bars often used to include jukeboxes, pinball machines[?], later upgraded to video games, tables and chairs in their decor to encourage patrons to stay and spend more money.

The milk bar as a social venue was gradually replaced by American style fast food outlets, eg McDonalds, and shopping malls, and much of the elaborate decor has disappeared from the milk bars of 2002. However, they are still found in many areas, with their primary function being that of a convenience store.

Today's milk bars almost universally stock ice creams, sweets, chocolate bars, soft drinks, newspapers, bread and occasionally fast food. Although there are many fewer milk bars than there were during the 1970s and 80s due to changing shopping habits, most people living in suburban areas still have a milk bar within walking distance or a short drive of their home.

Milk bars are traditionally a place where people drop in to pick up milk and the newspaper on their way home from work, and where school children stop on their way home from school to spend their pocket money on 20c or 50c worth of individual or mixed sweets.


There is also a campaign in the UK to encourage school children to consume more dairy products, by installing 'milk bars' in schools. The idea behind this is that if the perishable dairy products are attractively presented and properly stored, the children will be more willing to buy them. The organisers behind the project work to develop links with school caterers, so that the handling of milk and dairy produce can be improved, and they promote milk consumption and encourage milk drinking to become a habit that will be carried into adulthood. The Milk bar project has been extremely successful in Scotland for 18 years, and it is currently being extended across England and Wales.

A Clockwork Orange

Milk bars were also mentioned in a more sinister context in Anthony Burgess's A Clockwork Orange, in the guise of the Korova Milk Bar, a hangout where the delinquent Alex and his friends gathered to plan their crimes and consume narcotics. Burgess grew up in England during the period discussed above in which milk bars originated.



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