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The power of milkshakes

Dave Smith says he has "the greatest job in the world." As executive secretary of the Pennsylvania Dairymen's Association, he runs the milkshake and fried cheese businesses that provide funds for the Association to donate in grants to worthwhile causes. This year, the Association will contribute $10,000 to the Four Diamonds Fund in the fight against childhood cancer. Before enjoying her chocolate milkshake at the Farm Show “Dairy Carrie” (Carrie Mess) from Milford, Wisconsin, said it best in responding to the Association’s contribution to the Four Diamonds Fund: “It’s the right thing to do and dairymen do the right thing!” Photo by Sherry Bunting

60 years of milkshakes celebrated; $10,000 given to fight cancer

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Gov. Tom Corbett and David Smith, executive director of the Pennsylvania Dairymen's Association, toasted 60 years of delicious Dairymen's milkshakes at the 98th Pennsylvania Farm Show. At the 50s-themed showcase event, they encouraged all Pennsylvanians to “raise your shake,” to commemorate the six decade-long tradition of delicious vanilla and chocolate shakes.

“I want to congratulate the Dairymen's Association and Valley Grange No. 1360 for success in creating and serving this legendary milkshake for 60 years.” said Gov. Corbett. “These milkshakes are a delicious tradition that many Pennsylvanians look forward to all year long.”

Governor Corbett, Nashville Country Music Star Ben Gallaher, Congressman Glenn Thompson and other dignitaries joined Smith as he announced a $10,000 donation from the Pennsylvania Dairymen’s Association to fight pediatric cancer. Clasping a vanilla Dairymen’s shake, Smith remarked: "It’s a matter of perspective: you can view this cup as being half empty or half full. I encourage the folks present today to view this cup as half full." He added, "Examples of this positive outlook with us today are FFA, the future of the agriculture industry, and Penn State Hershey Medical Center’s Four Diamonds Fund, providing pediatric cancer patients and their families with positive support. This half-full cup also represents the vision and the future of Pennsylvania’s dairy industry and the food products that we work to provide."

Flanked by Four Diamonds Fund children, Smith also pledged the $10,000 donation from the Pennsylvania Dairymen's Association through Penn State's THON to support the Four Diamonds Fund's fight against pediatric cancer.

The history of milkshakes at the Farm Show

In 1954, J. Collins McSparren, a former Pennsylvania Dairymen’s Association vice-president, and then secretary of the State Grange, urged the Pennsylvania Dairymen’s Association to consider establishing a Farm Show booth where milkshakes could be sold. The board of directors drafted a proposal and in 1955 rented space at the Pennsylvania Farm Show. The Dairymen’s Association partnered with the Valley Grange No.1360 from Lewisberry in York County who provided volunteers to staff the milkshake booth. The milkshakes were sold for 25 cents and totaled 90% of the booth’s sales.

Until 1969, the milkshakes were made the old-fashioned way by hand-dipping hard ice cream and blending it with milk. Today, the Pennsylvania Dairymen’s Association and Valley Grange operate 15 milkshake machines at the Farm Show. The volume of milk used for the venture has grown to 14,000 gallons.

"To put this in perspective, consider the number of Pennsylvania cows needed to produce this volume of milk,” Smith pointed out. “An average Pennsylvania dairy farm has 80 milking cows. The average daily production of a Pennsylvania dairy cow is 80 pounds of milk per day. It takes an average-sized dairy farm 19 days to produce enough milk to supply the milkshakes sold at the Pennsylvania Farm Show.

At the inception of the milkshake business, a staff of approximately 12 persons per day was needed to mix and sell the milkshakes. Today, 35 people per shift at three shifts per day to maintain production. More than 400 Grange volunteers are scheduled for the duration of this year’s Farm Show," he said.