Got Milk? Alfar Creamery made sure West Palm Beach did

Sometimes, life is just weird. I did my research for this blog last night, I sat down to write at 8:00 PM, flipped on the History Channel for Modern Marvels – and the whole show was about milk. We all pick up gallons or half-gallons of milk at our local supermarkets, not really knowing where the milk was produced, or how old it is. That wasn’t true of West Palm Beach back in the 1920s, when milk had to be delivered fresh each day. There was quite a bit of demand for milk and milk products such as butter, ice cream, sour cream and cream, and a growing city needed a dairy that could meet those needs. Alf R. Nielsen, a native Swede, who had been president of the Palm Beach Creamery Company, founded the Alfar Creamery Company in 1930. A dairy plant was built at 456 Flamingo Drive at the cost of $75,000,

Alfar Creamery Logo

Alfar Creamery Logo

and opened with great fanfare and a party til midnight on November 20, 1930. A.E. Parker, the former city manager of West Palm Beach was vice-president and was also president of Bertana Farms. He was also Major Boynton’s son-in-law and managed the Boynton Hotel for many years. Bertana Farms was a combination of a part of his first name “Bert” and “Ana”, his wife.

They bought their milk from the big dairy producers of the day, the famous Pennock Plantation in Jupiter with its Jersey cows (specializing in unpasteurized milk), the Bertana and Winchester dairies in Boynton, and the Clark Dairy in Kelsey City (today’s Lake Park). The white trucks of the Alfar Creamery delivered milk daily all over West Palm Beach, packed in ice to keep it fresh in the heat.

Alfar Box

Alfar Ice Cream

Service was extended to Belle Glade in 1934 with the opening of the western plant. Alfar also was famous for its ice cream in a variety of flavors, even Palm Beach!

Alfar also sponsored bowling teams and kid’s baseball teams, so they were a real supporter of the local community. The Alfar logo was everywhere to be seen, but probably no more iconically than on “The Hut”, the famous lakeside drive-in that was in West Palm Beach.

The Hut

The Hut Drive-in – West Palm Beach

Alfar provided all the dairy products for the milk shakes and malts, and the refrigeration equipment and neon signs as for this icon of West Palm Beach. Alfar also sold many thousands of the famous “Dixie

Dixie Cup

Collector Dixie Cup lid with Bob Hope

Cups” with ice cream, and the old lids are highly sought by collectors.

As time went on, the local dairy business became more difficult as consumers began buying milk at supermarkets. I can remember as a kid that the milkman still did stop by (McArthur Dairy) and would sell milk, ice cream and other dairy products and I loved it when my mom bought things from the milkman, but she said it was more expensive than the store.

In 1963, Alfar merged with the Boutwell Dairy in Lake Worth. The Boutwell Dairy was founded by William Boutwell, who had invented the process that produced half and half. At its peak, the Boutwell dairy had more than a 1,000 Guernseys at his dairy located at Congress and Forest Hill Boulevard (then called Selby Road). After the merger, products were sold as Alfar-Boutwell. Then in 1968, the T.G. Lee Dairy in Orlando bought the Alfar-Boutwell Creamery, and the Alfar name dissappeared from the West Palm Beach area. In the continuing mergers, Dean Foods bought the T.G. Lee brand. By the end of the 1970s, all of the dairies in eastern Palm Beach County had closed as the land had become too valuable for dairy farming.

So what happened to the Alfar plant? Did the property become housing or a shopping center? Nope. In some miracle, the property is still a dairy distribution plant and serves as the headquarters of McArthur Dairy (also owned by Dean Foods).  It is still located at the same address on Flamingo Road along the Florida East Coast railroad.
Information for this article was researched through the historical archives of the Palm Beach Post.

McArthur Dairy

McArthur Dairy Headquarters

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8 Responses to Got Milk? Alfar Creamery made sure West Palm Beach did

  1. Jane says:

    Ginger –
    Thanks for pointing out that “we all didn’t grow up on McArthurs”. My father worked for many years for Home Milk. I believe they were actually a Miami based dairy but had a local distribution plant. It was located directly across Military Trail from the Polo Grounds (which now is a shopping center) and a self storage place is there now. This would be just north of Summit Blvd. on Military Trail. Home delivery of milk, eggs, buttermilk, cottage cheese and ice cream. Towards the end they even delivered Ritz soda! They also had a small truck that looked like a house that went to grand openings and parades. I still have several of their half gallon glass jugs…
    Thanks for the memories!!!!

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  2. Patti says:

    I found a milk bottle from the 1930s that is in perfect condition after cleaning it up. It just appeared. Never the less, I am amazed that we have this type of history in Florida. I would expect to find this type of history elsewhere. I will be placing this piece on my shelf with the other historical collectables I have. Who knew I would find this type of treasure in Florida. I figured it would be in the waters rather than on land.

    Doc Patti

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  3. Rollin Patrick says:

    I happened upon this article by chance. I grew up in West Palm during the 50’s. My father was a milkman for Alfar Creamery from around 1950 until 1960. I have many fond memories of the Alfar Creamery – picnics and Christmas parties, visiting the plant and mooching ice cream from the ice cream machine as it was being packaged, watching the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus unload cars from the Alfar Creamery siding, helping my father deliver milk (Delray Beach), etc. Any additional information about Alfar Creamery would be appreciated. Is the old Alfar Plant building still used by McAurthur?

    Thanx . . . .

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  4. Dave says:

    i have had a boutwell dairy collection barrel for milk since i moved to lake worth at age 5 the barrel is stamped boutwell dairies.

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  5. Bill Crozier says:

    I played baseball for ALFAR at Phipps park when Southboro school was still here, the manage and employee was Mr Neilson uniofrms was red white it was the worst team in little legue but we had a blast. thanks for the history has to be 1958

  6. J. Ryals (Jim) Dempsey says:

    Yes, I remember thaose “Dixie cups” we got at the cafeteria when I went to Belverdere Elementary from 1949-1955! They had the pictures of all the move stars.

    Billy Frazier-now there’s a familiar name. Did you go to Belvedere or Conniston?

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  7. Anne pepper says:

    While digging up Blocked sewer pipe plumbers found an intact pint bottle from ALfar in our front lawn in Palm Beach. Our house was built in 1937 ! Nice to know the plumbers were so healthy drinking milk instead of beer when putting in the sewer line. Loved reading about the algae creamery !!

  8. jack lee says:

    I remember the other dairies like Home Milk well. I was a retail milkman for t g lee dairy in the early 70’s. Enjoyed the company and enjoyed both my customers and those I worked with

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