Monday, August 24, 2009

Reading and Drinking Milk Memories

McDonald’s Dairy. Reader’s Digest. I would have never thought of putting these two brand names together – but because of events that have recently taken place – I can now link them together.

Reader’s Digest
I was surprised to read that Reader’s Digest has filed for Chapter 11 and that the value of the company is going down with each and every passing day. I know that the newspaper and magazine business is going through some tough times with newspapers folding left and right and magazines just holding on to dear life, but I never thought to put the Digest in that group.

I am fifty-four years old and it’s hard to imagine someone in my age group who’s family at one time or another had subscribed to the Reader’s Digest or had read one or two Reader’s Digest books in their lifetime. And then there were special edition Reader’s Digest books about health, medicine, sewing, etc., although I never purchased one of those books – when I was gathering my Mother’s belongings after she died I must have packed up a library of them that my Mom had purchased during her lifetime.

I can remember composing a letter to the people at Reader’s Digest during one of my classes in the seventh grade at Lowell Jr. High in Flint, Michigan never thinking that they would respond to my letter, but they did. Not only did they thank me for my interest in their publication – they sent me a book that told whole story of how the Reader’s Digest came into being and all of different editions that they put out each and every month. It was pretty impressive reading for a seventh grade kid and I was just thrilled to death to receive a free book from them in the mail.

A lot of years have passed and I can’t remember the last time that I actually picked up a Reader’s Digest or even know of anyone who reads the magazine today – which is probably why they are in Chapter 11 bankruptcy. In this world of around the clock cable news and information and news at the tip of your fingers via the internet – Reader’s Digest has lost its place of meaning and importance and it would probably be a safe bet that we’ll soon be reading the obituary for the magazine – not in a newspaper or a magazine – but on the net.

McDonald’s Dairy
If you have ever lived in the Flint or Mid-Michigan area – McDonald’s Dairy is a name that you’re familiar with and it’s big red quality check logo on a half-gallon of McDonald’s milk, ice cream or sour cream was a welcome addition to your home. Although I never went there – McDonald’s use to operate a ice cream shop/parlor at their factory/bottling plant on Lewis Street on Flint’s east side.

As a kid growing up in Flint – you had a choice between McDonald’s milk and Dean’s Milk – and it seemed like everybody chose McDonald’s because it was a Flint product. The milk that they served us in every school cafeteria that I ever ate while going to school in Flint was made by McDonald’s and in our family – there was no other name but McDonald’s on the dairy products that we bought.

As the years have gone by – McDonald’s was purchased by Country Fresh Dairy and slowly the McDonald’s brand name and Quality Check logo disappeared from area grocery store’s dairy section. Little by little – Country Fresh ended production of products like ice cream that was made in Flint and shifted it to some of their other locations – which meant McDonald/Country Fresh dairy workers joined their auto working friends and neighbors on the unemployment line. So, it should come as no surprise that in August of 2009 – Country Fresh is closing the milk production plant in Flint. They’ll still be selling Country Fresh products, but they won’t be made in Flint. I can see the heads at Country Fresh thinking -- if GM can leave – so can we!

I think that when I go to the store tomorrow, I’ll pick up this month’s Reader’s Digest and see if they still have all of the old features in the magazine that I remember. And while I’m at it – I just might pick up a half gallon of McDonald’s milk that I can dip some chocolate chip cookies in as I read. Oh, I forgot – there is no more McDonald’s and it’s getting harder and harder to find a Reader’s Digest on the magazine racks at my local grocery store. Oh well….that’s life, right?

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