Mellin’s Infant’s Foods, Doliber-Goodale Co., Boston

According to the Food Timeline, “Up until the middle of the 19th century [in industrialized nations] infant food was generally made at home. Recipes and instructions for feeding babies were sometimes found in cookbooks. Finely ground grains (oats, rice, barley) mixed with a liquid are found in most cultures.  Food historians generally agree that manufactured baby food, as we know it today, was a byproduct of the European Industrial Revolution. The first mass-produced baby foods were invented by scientists/nutrition experts and manufactured in the mid-19th century by innovative companies. These were infant formulas, substitutes for mother’s milk. At that time, tainted milk was often connected with infant mortality. Then, as now, there was much controversy regarding the use of artificial baby food. Ideas regarding amounts, timing, and what constituted a healthy diet have likewise changed.”

The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America continues, “In 1867, the Swiss merchjant Henri Nestle invented the first artificial infant food, and in 1873, 500,000 boxes of Nestle’s Milk Food were sold in the United States as well as in Europe, Argentina, and the Dutch East Indies. By the late 1880s, several brands of mass- produced foods, mostly grain mixtures to be mixed with milk or water, were on the market. These included Liebig’s Food, Carnick’s Soluble Food, Eskay’s Albumenized Food, Imperial Granum, Wagner’s Infant Food and Mellin’s Food. Mellin’s was perhaps the most widely used.”

Embossed “Mellin’s Infant’s Foods, Doliber-Goodale Co., Boston”

Excerpt from Goods for sale: products and advertising in the Massachusetts industrial age by Chaim M. Rosenberg, 2007, page 123

Excerpt from Goods for sale: products and advertising in the Massachusetts industrial age by Chaim M. Rosenberg, 2007

This picture of the Executive Staff of Mellin’s Foods was taken December 6, 1893

1883 Trade card for Mellin's Food,

1883 Trade card for Mellin’s Food,

1891 pamphlet for Mellin's Food for Infants

1891 pamphlet for Mellin’s Food for Infants

1895 Trade card for Mellin's Food

1895 Trade card for Mellin’s Food

1897 Ad for Mellins Food

1897 Ad for Mellins Food

friends

Mellins food ad, undated

Mellins food ad, undated

Mellins food ad, undated

"Before Gerber Babies—those healthy infant faces peering at us from Gerber's Baby Food ads—there were Mellin's Babies. This ad at left from an early twentieth-century issue of Harper's shows us F. Sumner Warren of Somerville—an exemplar of the happy, healthy children fed on Mellin's baby food (or so the copywriters wished us to think). The food itself was an additive said to give cow's milk all the nutritional properties of breast milk. In reality, Mellin's Food was nothing more than malt extract. In spite of its nutritional limitations, by the 1890's Mellin's Food was the most popular of the infant foods sold in the United States. This success was due primarily to aggressive marketing—advertisements for Mellin's often included supposed testimonials from parents that Mellin's had brought their children back from the brink of death. But whether the food actually improved children's health or not, being the face of Mellin's often launched a baby on a career in modeling or show business. Humphrey Bogart was a Mellin's Baby. So was Ruth Gordon Jones of Harold and Maude."

“Before Gerber Babies—those healthy infant faces peering at us from Gerber’s Baby Food ads—there were Mellin’s Babies. This ad at left from an early twentieth-century issue of Harper’s shows us F. Sumner Warren of Somerville—an exemplar of the happy, healthy children fed on Mellin’s baby food (or so the copywriters wished us to think). The food itself was an additive said to give cow’s milk all the nutritional properties of breast milk. In reality, Mellin’s Food was nothing more than malt extract. In spite of its nutritional limitations, by the 1890’s Mellin’s Food was the most popular of the infant foods sold in the United States. This success was due primarily to aggressive marketing—advertisements for Mellin’s often included supposed testimonials from parents that Mellin’s had brought their children back from the brink of death. But whether the food actually improved children’s health or not, being the face of Mellin’s often launched a baby on a career in modeling or show business. Humphrey Bogart was a Mellin’s Baby. So was Ruth Gordon Jones of Harold and Maude.”

1910 Mellins food ad

1910 Mellins food ad

1914 Mellins Baby Food Ad

1914 Mellins Baby Food Ad

1919 Ad for Mellins Food

1919 Ad for Mellins Food

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About Jessica

I am the supervisor of the analysis of the archaeological collection recovered from the Old Main excavation.
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18 Responses to Mellin’s Infant’s Foods, Doliber-Goodale Co., Boston

  1. Sean says:

    Found same exact bottle in medfield mass while working on a gas service

  2. Roy Jones says:

    I have one of the embossed glass bottles here. It was found in the desert south of Wilcox Arizona in 1976.

  3. lesly molina says:

    i just found this bottle in south hampton, New York.

  4. Olivia R says:

    I found one in the mud where a river meets Long Island Sound on the coast of New England.

  5. Ginger Galindo says:

    I have an embossed bottle with the lid. I have no idea where it came from. I have had it for years and live in Washington state.

    • Patricia Keefer says:

      Do you know what the bottle with the lid is worth?

      • Jessica says:

        The artifacts featured here were excavated and not purchased. I cannot make any claims to offer accurate appraisals, but for my own knowledge I look at sold listings on ebay to ascertain what others have paid for the item.

  6. Pam says:

    I bought a bottle that was found digging on Cape Cod Massachusetts.

  7. Ben says:

    I have one of these bottles that was found in Honolulu Hawaii.

  8. Jimmy Woolard says:

    I found one in a ditch along the edge of the railroad in High Point, NC It is in excellent condition

  9. Lyle Roberts says:

    I have a book called The care and Feeding of Infants. Copyrighted by
    Mellin’s Food Company
    Boston,Mass.
    1914. also Directions for Preparing Millin’s Food for Adults
    Is there any value to this book,If so contact Lyle Roberts Abingdon Ill 61410

  10. i venugopal g says:

    My grandmother had a picture embroidered at Trichur Kerala India almost in the 1950s of a crawling baby with the caption ” WHO SAID MELLINS FOOD” I remember the picture very vividly now that I too trained myself to be in dairy food science it makes it all the more nostalgic.

  11. denise says:

    I had found a bottle in Monticello, Arkansas on some property we built a house on. Unfortunately, the gardener broke it.

  12. Pingback: Eskay’s Albumenized Food, Philadelphia, PA | Old Main Artifacts

  13. Tammy says:

    My husband escalated tons of bottles in atlantic city New Jersey . Hundreds of types and styles. Among them I found lots of Mullins foods bottles , all types and sizes

  14. Debbie says:

    Hey I just found an original page for a 1897 Advertisement for Mellin’s Food that appeared in McClure’s Magazine featuring a letter from Mrs.. H.E. Shontz 2539 No. 33rd St. Philadelphia, Pa. showing off her then 7 month old son Herbert Leaman Shontz testifying to the excellence of Mellin’s Baby Food. Was fun finding this site and reading what others have found. Cool.

  15. ROSEMARIE MARTIN says:

    I bought a large Mellin’s Food bottle yesterday at an estate sale here in Sacramento, Ca., for $5. The person selling said that he personally excavated it at Upton, Mass. when he was 16 years old – about 50 years ago. Not a screw-on top and still has a dirty interior. If bottle could talk – what tales would be told!

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