Pollio Dairy Deposit Box

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This rectangular wooden box features two wood and metal strips along its upper edges, indicating its use for carrying packaged cold cheeses, bottles of milk, and other dairy products. Both sides of the crate are marked in black with the name 'POLLY-O' written over the Pollio Dairy Corporation’s logo, an image of a parrot wearing a chef’s hat and carrying a fork. The numbers “4-65” in the lower right-hand corner indicate the box was manufactured in April 1965. The telephone number, “MI 7-3600,” is stamped on the upper right-hand corner, confirming the dairy’s location in Midwood, Brooklyn, in the mid-1960s. In addition to the dairy’s name and location, the crate is stamped with the words “Deposit Box.” While the box would have been used to carry filled bottles of milk, it was also a deposit box or transport pack, into which consumers would place their empty milk bottles to be returned to the dairy for washing and reuse.
Giuseppe Pollio, founder of the Pollio Dairy Company, immigrated to America at age 19 and arrived at Ellis Island in 1879. He settled in the Coney Island area of Brooklyn, New York, a popular location for other immigrants from Italy. Pollio established his company in 1899, just four years after machines for the commercial pasteurization of milk were introduced to the U.S. dairy industry. Over the following two decades, as almost 3 million Italians emigrated to America, there was a substantial new audience for traditional Italian products such as fresh cheese. Pollio was the first entrepreneur to manufacture and distribute mozzarella and ricotta on a large scale in the United States. Although mozzarella and ricotta are considered the most important types of Italian cheese, having been enjoyed in Italy since the 15th century, such fresh cheeses were uncommon in America prior to the 20th century. Polly-O became a significant distributor and helped turn American palates toward the newly available cheese, and to Italian cuisine in general.
During the first boom of the dairy industry, from 1875-1940, milk was transported from farms to processing plants or industrial dairies, where it was bottled in glass containers and sealed with a paper cap seal. The filled bottles were packed into wooden crates to be stored over ice. Such crates generally withstood the moisture from melting ice, but dairies switched to hard plastic crates when they became widely available by the 1970s.
Currently not on view
date made
place made
United States: New York, Brooklyn
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
overall: 13 1/2 in x 24 in x 18 in; 34.29 cm x 60.96 cm x 45.72 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
See more items in
Work and Industry: Food Technology
Industry & Manufacturing
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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