This insulated box in the collection at Hennepin History Museum once sat on a Minneapolis resident’s porch awaiting the arrival of an Ewald Brothers milkman to come and leave dairy products in it. At one point in time, Ewald Bros. was the largest home delivery dairy in Minneapolis, supplying milk to one out of every three homes. The family business was successful for nearly a century, and it all began with one immigrant’s story.
Chris Ewald immigrated to Minnesota from Denmark in 1884 with his mother and siblings. For two years Chris worked hard delivering milk in Minneapolis. By 1886 he had saved enough money to purchase a wagon, horse, and route from his employer, thus creating Ewald Bros. with his brother John. What began as a one-horse operation soon expanded to include one hundred horses and forty wagons, which were eventually replaced by a fleet of over 100 refrigerated trucks.
Ewald Bros. became successful because they were the exclusive retailer of Golden Guernsey brand milk. All the milk produced by the dairy came from purebred Guernsey cattle, which was sought after for its rich flavor due to its high fat content. The company capitalized on this by incorporating an image of the cow into its advertising. The image below from the fifties depicts the Ewald Bros. sign that once stood over Hennepin and Lake Street in Minneapolis.
The last bottle of Ewald Bros. milk was produced in 1982, and the brand would cease to exist by 1986. The company went out of business for several reasons. One key factor was that milk produced by Guernsey cattle fell out of favor with the public when studies showed that milk high in fat was bad for health and could lead to heart disease. Despite this, it is the images of Guernsey cows that live on to tell the story of Ewald Bros. At one point in time, Ewald Bros. billboards were scattered throughout the area. Today, one of those billboards still displays the enormous, three-dimensional heads of a Guernsey bull and a cow at the Minnesota State Fair. The sign, though now used as a landmark of the fair, serves as reminder of family business that brought quality dairy to Hennepin County residents for nearly one hundred years.
Written by Alyssa Thiede
Crosby, Jackie. “Cows Not Going Out to Pasture, Star Tribune, August 29, 2017. Star Tribune Archive.
Ewald, William D. Ewald Bros. Dairy. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2017
This publication was made possible in part by the people of Minnesota through a grant funded by an appropriation to the Minnesota Historical Society from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. Any views, findings, opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the State of Minnesota, the Minnesota Historical Society, or the Minnesota Historic Resources Advisory Committee.