Art By Leah Bae
There was a time when milk in cafeterias came in cartons and even glass bottles, but what really made elementary lunchtime enjoyable was the flavored milk that came in bags — sacs of liquid with no distinct shape. But, as we move further into the modern age, kids around the country are forgetting what it means to be a part of the “Mini-Sip” pouch community.
I’m completely pro-bagged milk, and it saddens me when I learn fellow students did not experience this euphoria as they braved their elementary and junior high years. This was a time with Hannah Montana backpacks, Lisa Frank school supplies and Driftwood bagged milk when your mom dropped you off early for school breakfast.
The bags debuted in the 90s when schools fancied cutting the budget and creating less disposable waste with these eco-friendly pouches. Apparently, districts desired them since they could be recycled and used as trash liners for schools — they also took up less room in landfills than cartons. I find this a bit counterintuitive because they are, in fact, plastic.
The student would get their pouch with a pointed end straw. To insert, you would place your finger over the dull end of the straw, so milk would not fly everywhere. Many kids would stick their straws in and shower their classmates in milk. By kids, I mean myself.
I can only imagine the trauma teachers dealt with when kids came back from recess all sticky and covered in milk — although there are a lot worse things for kindergarteners to be covered in.
There was no feeling like blowing up your empty pouch, making shapes and twirling it around while socializing with friends. No iPhones as “safety nets” from society— just milk bags. These were simpler times.
So, I’m sorry I didn’t grow up in a part of California where we had access to ordering the Sharpay Evans meal — a tray with flowers and perfectly bottled beverages. However, walking up to my best friend who saved me a seat in the cafeteria with my bagged milk in hand isn’t a time I would have changed for the world.
Don’t worry, we will be accepting statements on bagged milk stances while also allowing comments succeeding this piece.
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Email Beth Gonzales: firstname.lastname@example.org