Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Milk bars (known as delicatessens in South Australia and Western Australia) probably originated in Australia in 1934, when Burt Brothers opened the first. They also spread throughout the United Kingdom, and over 1,000 milk bars had opened by the end of 1936. By the late 1940s, milk bars were a place where young people could buy food, non-alcoholic beverages and "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 fast food franchises, such as McDonalds, and shopping malls. Much of the elaborate decor has disappeared from the milk bars that remain. 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 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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