Fireplace With Baskets


Please tell me you used to work on a dairy farm.

Or that your uncle worked on a dairy farm.

Or that your uncle’s girlfriend’s father-in-law’s next door neighbor’s sister’s husband used to work on a dairy farm.

In Tennessee.


Dairy Box


Because I need to know what this is.

I just bought it at an auction.

It was only $10.oo.

No one else was really interested…..

…..and that makes me a little nervous.


Dairy Tin


On the top it says “Midwest Dairy Products.”

And on the inside of the lid it says “Chattanooga, Tennessee.”



After I won the bid and they handed me my prize, I opened up the lid.

Inside were all these parts.

Metal parts.

Little pieces of this and that all jumbled together in the bottom of the box.

I took one look and promptly dumped all those parts into the trash.



I wasn’t really sure what they had to do with my dairy box.

But I was so crossing my fingers and banjo-playing toes that none of the metal pieces had absolutely positively anything to do with…..


Family Room

So if you know a dairy farmer in Tennessee,

or if your uncle’s girlfriend’s father-in-law’s next door neighbor’s sister’s husband isn’t busy milking the cows……

…..can you tell him I am “udderly” confused?  🙂

PS  Okay…..I know that was terrible.  No one should be telling a joke like that after they graduate from first grade.

Time to “moooove on.”


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  1. Image for andrea cammarata andrea cammarata

    morning my friend! well...i am just a girl from jersey...aka...jersey girl but i do know what that is! i happen to have researched dairy items for a milk bottle that junkin joe snatched up -- that is a milk box -- they were place on the front porches of homes and milk...cream...butter...etc. was delivered door to door and this is where they were place to keep cool : ) cream always rises to the top and i do believe this is a creamy find!!! : ) hugs...

  2. Image for Alaina Alaina

    As you have been already told you have a milk box. I have one too for decoration, but believe it or not, in my small town we still have a small dairy farmer that delivers milk. I just use mine for storage.

  3. Image for Vee Vee

    Yup, you have your answer. Everyone would have had one of those at one point in time. Now I'm wishing that you had put the tools and bits and pieces in for a good soak so that some junque artist would have them. In fact, I'm pretty sure that you could have used them!

  4. Image for Suzy @ Worthing Court Suzy @ Worthing Court

    Hi KariAnne. I agree! It's a milk delivery box. We had our milk delivered for as long as I can remember and this is just like the box we had sitting outside our door. It was meant to keep the milk cold until it was collected and brought inside to the fridge.

  5. Image for Susan Susan

    Oh my goodness girl, thanks for the memory! Just like all the others said....We here on the East Coast had a milk man when we were young. The milk man delivered milk to our doors and put it in that box that was on our stoop. My parent's house even had a door on the outside of the house that led to a cabinet in the kitchen. The milk man would put the milk in the door and they would open up a kitchen cabinet and there it was! Kind of like an old fashioned Peapod (grocery delivery) Susan

  6. Image for Sillyrabt Sillyrabt

    yes, once upon a time, these were on everybody's front porch. we were able to get not only milk but wonderful cheese and butter. i could leave a note in the box for next week's delivery and that's what he'd bring. it was wonderful. i still have mine. i've wanted to put it out by the front door but was afraid somebody would take it. but with your experience at the auction, sounds like it might be perfectly safe out there!

  7. Image for Kim Kim

    See I am so old that I remember our milk being delivered in a box by the door. Oh, those were the days. You didn't have to worry about running out of milk and running to the store to get it. It always showed up by the door nice and cold in that thermal box.

  8. Image for Beverly Beverly

    We too had one sitting by the garage door for the milkman here in the Midwest. Haven't seen one in years--thanks for sharing that!

  9. Image for Lynn @thevintagenest Lynn @thevintagenest

    LOL....lots of people already gave you the correct answer I see. I love these old pieces. I sold one not too long ago on my website and it still had the name of the dairy farm stenciled on it. The Atlanta customer was thrilled with it. Glad you didn't pass it by at auction. xo

  10. Image for Beverly Beverly

    You got a great buy, KariAnne. We never had milk delivery. I always lived in a large city, and I don't know if home milk delivery was even available. I do know that it was available where my grandmother lived. Heck! She even had Coca-Cola delivered to her home.

  11. Image for linda adams linda adams

    I remember ours! I would even bet (if I did) that it's somewhere in the barn to this very day; because, that's where everything we didn't use anymore ended up! Good memories. Enjoy!

  12. Image for jeanette from everton terrace jeanette from everton terrace

    Ten dollars? Seriously? This is exactly the sort of thing I like to hunt down for my shop. Don't come across a ton of farm type things here in Phoenix. It's just great. I think I might need to come out your way for a visit to the auctions!

  13. Image for Vicky Vicky

    I think we are ready to try out for Jeopardy..........I'll take mysterious boxes for $500 Alex! I have to agree with everyone else, have a great day my friend.

  14. Image for Barbara Bachus Barbara Bachus

    I remember going out to the front door in the morning and getting the milk delivery for my mother using those!! Wish I still had one.....I need to get out and "junk" more often!

  15. Image for Vicki Vicki

    Yep, I was going to say it's a milk box. I grew up in the country and we had one at our front door. The milkman stopped by in the early hours of the morning and left our milk bottles there...and we placed our clean empty bottles in there at night. I'd love to have one!

  16. Image for Linda Linda

    Like Bob Hope always sang...."Thanks for the memories!" I look fondly on the good ole days of yesteryear...and you have given me a warm fuzzy, making me remember the milkman, and the breadman, and the ice cream man, etc., who would deliver to our house! I wish I had one of those milk boxes! i will search ebay...but I am sure they will be more than 10.00 Linda @ Truthful Tidbits

  17. Image for Martha Martha

    I am feeling very ancient right now. We had one if these also on our front porch. Can you believe that a milk truck actually delivered milk to us!!!!! I truly wish they would do that today. A daily delivery of milk, ha how fun would that be

  18. Image for Shari @ Turnstyle Vogue Shari @ Turnstyle Vogue

    I concur. Milk box. No udder explanation. LOL. I have one just like it only mine says "Echo Springs Dairy" which is a local dairy farm here in Oregon. They fit the large 1/2 gallon bottles...mine even came with one of the old glass bottles in it. udders were harmed in the making of that box.

  19. Image for Kelly @ Eclectically Vintage Kelly @ Eclectically Vintage

    I have a sudden desire to tip some cows! Next time, snap a pic of said instruments of torture before you toss them so we can all channel our Sherlock Holmes. PS - love the milk box (have a similar one - maybe they can have a play date). Kelly

  20. Image for debbiedoos debbiedoos

    I believe it is a milk box. In fact, here in my small little town we still have people get mild delivered and have boxes such as this on their front porches. Great piece if you ask me.

  21. Image for Rachel Rachel

    Wouldn't it be great to go out every morning and have fresh milk waiting in one of those? There are some things from back in the day that worked!

  22. Image for Glenda Glenda

    And if you were young enough and your milkman was nice and it was summer there was shaved ice for you to eat from your hands when he made his delivery. Boy are kids missing out today!

  23. Image for Lynn Lynn

    Hi! and I 've just discovered your blog - love it:) Yup, it's a milk box and we had one of those where I grew up. We used to get milk delivered to our front porch when I was little. Great find!

  24. Image for Katie Katie

    Hi Karianne! Thanks for stopping over at my blog. I am sooooo glad we connected because 1) Your blog is insane and I lan to set aside two hours tonight so I can read it glorious page, and 2) I love me some RHofOC and need someone to gossip with! I dvr'd the reunion and just watched it yesterday morning. They have all gone bonkers this season( including that crazy girl, Sarah) -- thank the lord for Heather and Brianna -- voices of reason! And woah, what was all the talk of Vicki sleeping with someone in Cabo and cheating on Don (and Don cheating on her). Yikes! Are you watching RHofNYC? I kind've miss the days of Jill and Bethenny, but I'm really liking Carole so far. I'll be back tonight! Katie

  25. Image for tinam61 tinam61

    Well you've already gotten the answer - but I am in Tennessee! LOL Yep, an outdoor dairy box - the parts had nothing to do with it. tina

  26. Image for Pat@BPM Pat@BPM

    I think I saw this answered already. We had one of these on our porch in the 60's when we still had milk delivered. Kept milk cold or kept it from freezing in winter. Ours was insulated. I absolutely love stopping by your gorgeous home!

  27. Image for Linda Adams Linda Adams

    A milk box Karianne, You sit it on the back porch and the milkman will deliver your milk products, butter and even eggs early in the morning before the little birdies wake up. Your milk will be in glass bottles and it will taste divine. If you need extra milk or you'd like some buttermilk delivered the next day just leave him a note inside the milk box and he'll add it to your daily order. A few hours later the bakery man will be knocking at your door with your order of bread for the day. Oh, those were the days. : ' ) Joyous Wishes.

  28. Image for Anne Anne

    Sigh, I can't believe you threw out the parts that were in the box. What kind of a hoarder are you anyways??! I don't remember any kind of box being set outside for milk bottles although I do vaguely remember the milk-being-delivered-to-your-door days. It's all a haze now.... Have a great one KariAnne! When are you coming to help me decorate my house? I love your room!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  29. Image for Linda @ it all started with paint Linda @ it all started with paint

    I have to disagree. It is absolutely NOT a milk box ... even though it looks eerily similar to a box that used to sit on our back stoop where milk was delivered ... but ours was not nearly that cute. So, instead I'm going with it's some sort of mad scientist cow torture device ... :) Have a great day! me

  30. Image for Ally Ally

    Ha ha ha! I laughed out loud at your infantile jokes. If I were you I would have kept the parts, told everyone they were for milking (gross), displayed them aggressively, and never had to start a conversation again when I had company over.

  31. Image for Gretchen Gretchen

    I grew up on a dairy farm and we had a milk processing plant and delivered milk. These were the boxes we gave to people who couldn't get their milk inside before it got warm. We used these boxes to hold bottles and then years later plastic packing. Unfortunately, I don't have one of those boxes anymore but I do have something else from my parents dairy that I found on my recent trip to my hometown.

  32. Image for Sally Sally

    I've never lived or worked on a farm, but as an investigator (haha- *wink*) I'd say this box never did either. I agree with everyone's comments that it was a milk delivery box that sat on someone's porch - perhaps nowhere near a farm. Therefore... whatever you found inside is probably more likely to be... ?something that got stashed in there over the years? and therefore has nothing to do with the item itself. [Just an investigative guess on my part.] LOVE the box!!! Our family did not have a milk box, but (as someone else mentioned) we had a little door on the outside of our house (at about shoulder level) where the milkman would put the milk delivery. It was accessed inside the house right next to the back door. I can't imagine that today, that would be considered acceptable. As far as I know, there was nothing "insulated" about the space. But then, I was just a kid. What did I know? =D

  33. Image for Brenda Brenda

    As you've already heard, it's a milk box. ;) I grew up in northeast PA and we had milk delivered to our doorstep. Our milk box was on our front step. They would bring the milk automatically. It was in glass bottles with a little cardboard "lid". The boxes are insulated, so the milk doesn't go bad too quickly. I actually have own of the milk bottles. It was given to me by an ex-boyfriend's father who collected bottles. I use it as a flower vase, or to put juice (or milk) in on occasion to make the table more fun. I don't have a milk box, but I keep my eye out for them. I do, however, have a Charlie Chip can. They were delivered right to your front door, too.

  34. Image for Laura Laura

    When you are as "young" as I am you used to get your milk delivered in these as a child. My mom would skim the cream off the top of the milk bottles for her coffee. Great find.

  35. Image for Bliss Bliss

    You know there is a market for industrial size udder clamps right? I hear tell they pay big bucks for the vintage ones. Hope you didn't toss out your kids inheritance, or something you could of really used. ~Bliss~

  36. Image for Laura Laura

    Cracks me up that your first commented is a fellow Jersey girl who also understood that was a milk box. We had one two. In fact, since I am so freakishly tall compared to the rest of my family - the family joke is that I was the milkman's kid. My mom left it on the steps years after we stopped getting delivery which my sister joked was how my Mom left my dad messages! Ha!

  37. Image for Anna Starner Anna Starner

    I have a dairy delivery box on my porch now. No I don't get milk delivered. Darn I wish they still delivered to your door. But I do go to a family dairy right on the farm. Wonderful fresh milk and the best ice-cream made right there. Just wanted to say I have my box on my porch and it is a great place to have packages dropped or leave something someone is picking up,

  38. Image for shirley@housepitalitydesigns shirley@housepitalitydesigns

    Your milk box is "udderly" that would be something my hubby would say, no matter what time of you know he is the "king of puns"....and teaching my my granddaughter, so she can carry on the his legacy...while on a "nature walk"..she picked up a leaf...She looked at her "Pop" and proudly said, "it is so beautiful Pop, I did not want to "leaf it' there...that was a very proud moment for my hubby... Love that you placed the "udderly fine" milk box on the shelf!!...

  39. Image for Betsy(@coastal-colors) Betsy(@coastal-colors)

    Clearly, you are too young! Well, It's a milk delivery box. Ours sat by the back door and the milk man would leave milk, eggs, and juice in it. It's a great piece and now I feel old! Love that you have it out in the house! Great find!

  40. Image for Andrea Andrea

    Your new find is wonderful, and perfect in your home. Can I just say that I absolutely covet your house? I adore it. sigh. Anyhow, the first thought that came to mind about the shudder inducing odd bits in the box was could they have been teat cannulas? That is surely something a dairy farmer would have on hand, and is worthy of a shudder. They look sort of like large, metal needles, but with a more blunted end. Being a vet, we use these often. Mind you, I am NOT a large animal vet, so my experience with dairy cattle is at a minimum =)

  41. Image for Debbie Hein Debbie Hein

    Hi again. Yep, I grew up with one of those. I grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia and we had one out on our front step. The milkman would come like 2X a week, or more if you requested it, and bring your order. He would also bring eggs and bread if you needed it. My husband grew up a tiny bit further from the city than I did, and he remembers all sorts of things being delivered. Not only did they have one of these boxes for milk, but they also had large tin cans, kinda like you see these days with popcorn in, and in these cans they would have delivered potato chips or pretzels. They also had dry cleaners that would pick up and deliver your clothes, a bread man that would bring breads, rolls, and donuts. And a man that would go around the neighborhood selling fruits and veggies. Back we he was very small there were no grocery stores where he lived, that changed quickly, but at the time there really was no stores to shop in. Many families only had 1 car, can you imagine, so lots of food was brought to you. It seems like today with many families were both parents work, this would be a blessing also. Congrats on your new find! You have a way of "putting everything to good use".

  42. Image for Jean Jean

    Well, your joke made me chuckle. I found a milk box like that at a garage sale last year that was in awesome shape for $2.00 and I sold it. I was in a thrift shop the other day and found one that was painted over for $5.00 and bought it. I used Citri-strip and managed to get the paint off without completely destroying the red and blue Quality Checked label underneath! I think they'd make great planters.

  43. Image for Michelle Michelle

    Oh how I love your house and your new treasure looks perfect on your bookshelf. I think I remember the Milkman coming to our house or maybe it's the memory of my mother telling me about it. We had a milk box by our front door that I do remember. I wish there was still such a service. My boys go through a gallon of milk daily. I miss the days of going to the corner grocery store and buying penny candy or to the local butcher and farmers market. Oh how I long for the simplicity. Those were the days.

  44. Image for Claudia Claudia

    Yep. A milk box. There were plenty in my neighborhood when I was a girl. We, on the other hand, had a milk chute. It was a little door built in to th side of the house. The milkman would open up the door from the outside and put our milk order there. We'd open the door from inside the kitchen and get the milk. It also served as emergency access when we were locked out. Whoever was the smallest of the kids would shinny through the opening and go unlock the door from the inside. xo Claudia

  45. Image for Dawn Garbes Dawn Garbes

    I know you already got your answer, but I actually remember having milk and butter delivered to one of these boxes by our back door when I was young. ( and I'm not that old! ) I have one now in my entry that I use for hats and mittens.enjoy your new treasure! P.s. I'm the wife of a former dairy farmer from Iowa :)

  46. Image for Maury @ Life on Mars Maury @ Life on Mars

    We had a milk man when I lived in Nashville! This brings back memories. We had a galvanized grey one just like that and every Monday milk would appear in it. Now I was only 5, but I thought that was a pretty neat trick. I didn't actually meet the milk man until a couple years later :-)

  47. Image for Peggy Peggy

    Okay I know you have been given the answer already but we know exactly what this is because my father-in-law was a dairy farmer and my husband grew up on a dairy farm. You, my dear, are now the proud owner of a milk cooler that was used when dairy products had home delivery!! And the pieces parts inside, well they were just pieces parts that the previous owner just chucked inside!! So enjoy your piece of Americana and congratulations because you truly got a STEAL!! OH just a interesting tidbit of information... there are still dairies across our nation that offer home delivery. They are small, mom and pop operations... many of which are located on the east coast. have a wonderful day!! Think of me as I play hostess to 6 13-15 year old boys who were supposed to be over here swimming but we are currently having thunderstorms! They are a good bunch of boys so it will be no issue... I'll just make sure that we fill in the dart holes before the week is out and do a little touch up painting. :)

  48. Image for missy george missy george

    Am I really so old or are you really so young??? We had those boxes on our door stoops for the milk man to put our milk in when it was delivered..It would keep the milk cold...I remember when it was freezing and the milk would freeze and push the cream, (always on the top), through the lid..Good old days..

  49. Image for Nikole Nikole

    Ok, I started following your blog a few months ago and was insanely envious of your house (especially the art house)! I love the milk box find, but love your sense of humor even more! It's just really a bummer that you are all the way in Tennessee and have no idea who I am. I am sure we would be BFF's instantly!

  50. Image for Jill Flory Jill Flory

    You are so funny! My husband used to LIVE on a dairy farm! But it was in Kansas not in Tennessee. I can ask him if he knows what it is though!! I didn't take time to read all the other comments so maybe you already know what it is!

  51. Image for Lee Lee

    What a cool box! We had milk delivered, but never had a box like this. My favorite memory is that he also delivered ice cream. Not all flavors were available at any given time, but i lived for the times he had peppermint ice cream.

  52. Image for tami tami

    i am soooo jealous! i live in a little town (collegedale) just outside of chattanooga, and would love to have a milk box from here. :-)

  53. Image for CAS CAS

    As a number of others have said, it is a milk or diary box that sat on your front porch waiting for the "Milkman" to put your weekly delivery inside. We actually had that service in the early 70's when my kiddos were babes. I could fill out a little paper & leave it in the box, checking off the items I wanted that particular day. They carried any kind of dairy product -- milk, cheeses, etc. It wasn't any more expensive than buying it at the grocers & way more convenient living in a very wet & usually cold climate with babies. Besides, my "Milkman" was really cute!

  54. Image for Jen (Arriving) Jen (Arriving)

    Yep, we have similar boxes here on our porches for the milk man's delivery. Yes, a milk man in 2012, it is pretty awesome, isn't it. He'll even bring you butter and cheese etc. :-) Our boxes are insulated though so the milk stays nice and fresh even if you don't get home until later that day.

  55. Image for judi judi

    as you already know...that my dear is a milk box. my neighborhood bff from childhood used to get her milk delivered in glass bottles to her home. i always thought her family was rich (we lived in the suburbs) to have milk brought right to your doorstep. i recently purchased a milk box and for $10! however, someone decided to spruce it up with the old school galvanized paint. i promptly applied my paint removed to it and it looks good as new. it makes a good cooler or ice bucket for the deck or patio. enjoy!

  56. Image for susanmarysunshine susanmarysunshine

    My mother must have really hated to grocery shop, because not only did we have out milk delivered, we had our soda and chips delivered. For the soda delivery a woman would call our house every couple of weeks and say "Pequot calling". We ordered one case (12 large bottles) at a time. My mom always ordered mixers; half n half, tonic, seltzer, etc. If my sister or I managed to get the phone we'd order birch beer, root beer, grape and orange. When the order was delivered my mom would be a little peeved. Charles Chips was the chip company. They would come in really big yellow and brown tins. Again, whomever answered the phone got to order what they wanted. Thanks for the memories.

  57. Image for Angela Angela

    So funny! I have nooo idea what the metal parts would be and I don't live in TN or work in a dairy barn buuuuut I do agree w/ the others, they put milk boxes on their porch for the milkman to come by and deliver in the nice glass bottles. Them were the days, huh!

  58. Image for Mrs. C Mrs. C

    I am so thankful you had so many others already help you discover just exactly what a treasure you have. I'd love to have one of these, such a familiar sight from my childhood. We had a local dairy, and these were common place on the front porches of all the homes. Now, I want to find one...nice find!

  59. Image for Karen Karen

    I love it! I have to say though, I was disappointed in reading the comments that the little metal parts had nothing to do with udders. Now that would have made a good story! Lucky you, it is so fun! Only $10!

  60. Image for Liz Liz

    Your room is so sweet! It's even better with another cool box on top of all the other wonderful stuff you have in there. Glad your mystery is solved! Liz

  61. Image for Steph Stimson Steph Stimson

    Just found your blog and drooling over your gorgeous're so blessed! I just recently went on a trip from the Midwest to Massachusetts with my friend and our 3 kids (whoa) where I was lucky enough to stay in Lancaster (est 1653) in a home built around 1804. They had a milk box sitting on their side porch off the drive...imagine my surprise one morning when I walked out for a run to find the milk man filling the box with bottles of fresh cold milk! A local farm still does home delivery and it was the most delicious (even flavored) milk I've had since we got it off the farm as a kid. Made my heart leap. :) My hub's family have dairy cows so they enjoy fresh milk all the time...too bad they're a good 50 miles away.

  62. Image for Chris Chris

    Hi Karianne, I sold one of those milk boxes 20 years ago when we got rid of all the antiques. Used to fill it with lilacs, put greens in it at Christmas and even used it to hide the occasional small gift when no one was looking.

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