Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Lapping Up the Milk

Welcome to the Route 30 Detour! US Route 30 intersects at I-95 in Philadelphia and goes from coast to coast, including passing through Pittsburgh and the home of Drexel University SMT student and blog contributor, Bryan Fyalkowski (@fyalkowski)...

When Dario Franchitti won the Indy 500 this past weekend, he did what any reasonable human being would do in that situation: Pour milk on himself.

How do YOU cool off on a warm summer day?

The winner of the Indy 500 pouring milk on himself is one of the weirdest, yet most unique, traditions in all of sports. It all began in 1933 when Louis Meyer requested a glass of buttermilk in the winner's circle because his mother would give it to him to drink on hot days.

Since then, it is an expected act for the winner of the Indy 500 to drink and/or soak himself with a bottle of milk. Some dude named Emerson Fittipaldi in 1993 was actually booed for drinking orange juice, as he was trying to promote his citrus farms instead of drinking that stinky old milk.

Sir, may I drink your sideburns?

The Indy 500 and American Dairy Association (ADA) makes a big deal out of what milk is given to the winner and by whom. Each driver submits pre-race whether they want whole, 2% or skim milk in the winner's circle. And every year, local dairy farmers are chosen to present the milk to the winner. For this edition of the Indy 500, it was none other than David Forgey and Duane Hill.

Note: NOT David Forgey and Duane Hill.

The ADA actually sponsors the event and pays the winner of the Indy 500 a bonus of $10,000 if he drinks milk in the winner's circle. Not necessarily a HUGE sum, but considering it is milk, it is better than nothing. I guess the most important thing is that no driver is lactose intolerant, or else we might need some kind of soy/almond milk garbage.

Milk came to the forefront of the non-Indy 500 sporting world with the popular "got milk?" ads that began in the mid-90s. Athletes such as Steve Young, Mia Hamm, Cal Ripken, Jr. and Oscar De La Hoya were among the first to sport milk moustaches in full-page ads in magazines and newspapers. Other celebrities, politicians and even cartoon characters were featured in the ads to promote the drinking of milk to grow strong bones and increase Vitamin D intake.

More like 2,632... Glasses of milk!

Not everyone knows that this campaign was jump-started by the Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP) and it has been one of the most successful series of ads in recent memory. I mean, milk is still (at least) fifth on the list of desired drinks behind beer, pop, water and juice. Then to add Gatorade, Arnold Palmer 1/2&1/2 and those Naked smoothie things to the mix and milk is like Swiss cheese.

Do not get me wrong, when it comes to coffee, cereal or Cream of Wheat, milk is my number one choice and that probably will not change. But when it comes to athlete push, I do not see milk as a swing product that a consumer will buy just because their favorite athlete has the reminisce of it on their face.

The best ever.

MilkPEP may have thought the same way, because the number of "got milk?" ads has decreased in the past few years. However, we can all take joy in the fact that this picture exists:

Yes, Rebecca Romijn is an athlete. Look it up!

Enjoy your trip back to I-95 and I'll see you next week!


  1. Great insight into the link between milk and sports! Obviously McGwire didn't do steroids, he is simply guilty of listening to his mother and drinking his milk.

  2. This is a classic Blogkowski post. Great insight with some humor. Riveting

  3. Gotta go with whole milk...looks better for the pictures!

  4. Agree, the skim would have just looked like murky water. Seth is clearly the milk senior analyst lol. And obviously just lots of milk for McGwire... injected directly into his face.