We Can Thank Al Capone For Expiration Dates On Milk Bottles

Grace Higgins | June 9th, 2020

American gangster Al Capone fought hard to have a sell-by date put onto milk bottles, strangely the American gangster was an activist when it came to implementing change to the milk industry. It is often said that Al Capone had a relative who died from drinking expired milk which is what started this mission. It paints a strange picture for the infamous American gangster, that he would fight so hard to get expiration dates on milk bottles. But it is well documented that he did indeed cause the industry to change its standards. One of his grandnieces does offer another explanation which is not so much about saving humanity.


The likely reason is that Al Capone was thinking about his business opportunities that remained legitimate and that could fund his luxury lifestyle. Al Capone knew that prohibition wouldn’t last forever, so he was always on the lookout for creating other businesses and was very interested in setting up a whole network of legal businesses. It is highly believed that all of the stamping equipment used for stamping expiration dates on milk bottles were under his control. According to his grandniece Marie Capone, he was making over $100 million per year from bootlegging during prohibition – so how could he continue this lifestyle after prohibition?

Al Capone realized that everyone uses milk every day so a legitimate business could make a lot of money in the milk industry, besides the markup on milk at the time was even bigger than on alcohol. And best of all his mafia already controlled a whole bottling industry for illegal alcohol distribution, so that could be easily adapted for milk.

During the time, the milk industry had very little regulations, which allowed Al Capone to set up and corner the market. He already had his Robin Hood reputation from feeding people during the depression. So when he presented his idea to the Chicago City Council for a law to stamp expiration on milk bottles to protect children from harm, it seemed like Al Capone was taking a stance against a real problem.

Of course, Al Capone still had to kidnap a milkmen union president to get the changes he wanted. Once they paid the ransom, he used that money to buy Meadowmoor Dairies and his milk business was in action. Capone was imprisoned shortly after entering the milk industry, but his expiration dates stayed.

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