How to Spot a Canadian

Tracking down Canadians one toque at a time.

About this Site...

Canadians are a tricky people to distinguish. They are often able to blend into a society and appear to be American, British, French or any other number of nationalities. This site will provide you with some tips and tricks to help you recognize a Canadian no matter where you are.

 

This site is for entertainment purposes only. "How to Spot a Canadian" is filled with humour, satire, hyperbole, parody and sarcasm. All statements here should be taken with a grain of salt or a bottle of maple syrup, whatever the case may be.

Their Milk Comes in Bags

One of the most puzzling aspects of Canadian culture is bagged milk. Bags of milk appear in a few other nations (India, Scandinavia, Poland, Israel, Hungary, Argentina and Uruguay, according to Wikipedia) but Canada is the largest nation where bagged milk is a common sight.

It's one of the few truly Canadian images. Maple leaves, Canada geese and beavers all appear in the United States, but not bagged milk. It's the one iconic Canadian symbol that refuses to cross below the 49th parallel.

And it completely confuses and scares Americans.

Bagged milk is one of the easiest ways to spot a Canadian. If you present a Canadian with a plastic bag filled with white liquid they will say "Oh, a bag of milk." An American presented with the same scenario will tilt their head slightly to the left and blink repeatedly. Bagged milk is a completely bizarre sight to an American. They can't understand it. Some Americans have even been known to run away from bagged milk. It's that powerful.

Apparently bags of milk are more environmentally friendly. They use less plastic and take up less space in landfills. Even if that's true, you have to wonder what was going through the mind of the first person who decided to put a liquid into a bag. It boggles the mind. The two things seemingly do not go together. You don't see bags of juice or bags of vodka do you? Though, I think the vodka bag would probably sell quite well.

There are few things that are more Canadian than bags of milk. Jugs of milk are almost unheard of in the Great White North. A few convenience stores sell them, but real Canadians want to drink their milk from a thin piece of flexible plastic. It's the truly Canadian way.

Perhaps it's the fact that the milk bag more closely resembles a cow's udder. But then again, you don't see Canadians running around and drinking directly out of cows, now do you? No, we save our energy for moose chasing and beaver racing.

57 comments:

  1. Anonymous said...
     

    I.V. drips are in bags aren't they?

  2. Anonymous said...
     

    "But then again, you don't see Canadians running around and drinking directly out of cows, now do you?"
    Tom Green.

  3. Anonymous said...
     

    Personnally, I wish I could buy big old jugs of milk. It seems like someone is always leaving just a dribble of milk in the bag because "it's not empty yet so I don't have to change it!" And don't get me started on the snippet which is always getting lost.

  4. HowToSpotACanadian.ca said...
     

    I bought some bagged milk today.

    The most annoying thing about it is that it's difficult to properly position the bags you aren't using so that they don't fall down in the fridge.

    They do create less waste however.

    And yes, I forgot about Tom Green. We like to pretend he's not Canadian.

  5. Leo said...
     

    Americans don't have bagged milk? o.O

    I remember growing up as a kid and being let to try putting the bag in the milk container and cutting the corner for the first time. Also, who can forget the little individual sized bags they would serve you in public school in your choice of chocolate or white. You'd have a little straw you'd get to push in, it was fun.

    As for the storage of unused milk bags, I thought everyone had a narrow shelf for that, most Canadians I know do.

    Drink Milk Love Life! ^___^

  6. Anonymous said...
     

    Vodka does come in bags:

    http://www.englishrussia.com/?p=305

  7. HowToSpotACanadian.ca said...
     

    The vodka bag is awesome.

    I've never had those personal sized milk bags, but I've heard a lot about them.

    We used to get milk boxes in public school.

  8. Anonymous said...
     

    It's true, it's true. We all have a re-usable bag-sized jug to slide the bag into to stop it spilling over, and some of us even have a little corner cutting device on a magnet that sits on the fridge so you don't have to go hunting for scizzors.
    Practical. Canadian.

  9. HowToSpotACanadian.ca said...
     

    The last time I bought a milk bag holder it came with one of those corner cutting devices with the magnet on the back. I was amazed.

    That's such a great invention. It's on my fridge right now.

  10. miss selene said...
     

    i guess we phased out bagged milk out west... i remember them when i was a kid but i haven't seen them forever! all we have now is jugs and cartons.

    hmm. i wonder, did they ever come in chocolate? chocolate bagged milk!

  11. HowToSpotACanadian.ca said...
     

    Chocolate bagged milk would be amazing.

    Thanks for reading.

  12. jamEs said...
     

    Oh boy howdy do we have bagged chocolate milk. It's very cost prohibitive, but it definitely is available in Ontario grocery stores. The part that is baffling about bagged milk is that we put 4 litres of milk into 3 bags. It just seems so random that we put 1 1/3 litres per bag.

  13. HowToSpotACanadian.ca said...
     

    I've never thought about that, but you're right James.

    Milk Bags are 1.3 litres, which is actually very strange.
    Why are they not one litre each?

  14. gaspump said...
     

    Neilson packages chocolate milk in bags. Given how much of it I can drink in a sitting it's a good thing I can get it 4L at a time. There's even a picture of it here:

    http://www.neilsondairy.com/en/products_chocmilk.htm

    Bottoms up!

  15. HowToSpotACanadian.ca said...
     

    I must find these chocolate milk bags.

    Thanks for reading!

  16. Caterina said...
     

    We were able to buy bagged milk in Michigan. The difficult bit was cutting it on the right angle for the first few uses.

    Was quite space-saving when camping, though.

  17. Jacob said...
     

    ... What?!?!!? In Alberta we don't sell bagged milk... Must be some eastern thing.

  18. Keith said...
     

    I cut the front and back corners of the bag of milk, while my girlfriend cuts just the front. This is a huge debate between us and we would love to hear your thoughts? How do you cut your bag?

  19. HowToSpotACanadian.ca said...
     

    I only cut the front.
    It works fine that way and it saves having another tiny little piece of plastic fall between my fridge and counter to be lost for eternity.

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  20. Anonymous said...
     

    We used to cut the front, and the back. Now we just have a spike jug. Drop the bag in, the spike pokes a hole in the bag (as a spike should) and out comes the milk in the jug, and throw away the bag. voila! done in less than 10 secs (most times ;) )

  21. Anonymous said...
     

    you, are an idiot
    I have lived in Canada my whole life, and I have never seen a bag of milk
    everyone i know buys jugs of milk....not unheard of at all

    learn something why don't you

  22. HowToSpotACanadian.ca said...
     

    Hmmm... I guess the bags of milk in my fridge are lying to me then.

    Thanks for the warning.

  23. Anonymous said...
     

    you said, "Jugs of milk are almost unheard of in the Great White North"


    if they're so unheard of, then how come that's all i ever see

    you are an ASSHOLE for accusing me of lying

  24. HowToSpotACanadian.ca said...
     

    ^ Good point.

    Thanks for reading.

    ;)

  25. Rantwick said...
     

    I've got some chocolate bagged milk in my fridge RIGHT NOW, because it was on sale. I ended up seeing this post because I was googling bag milk to see where a post I just wrote, a "tutorial" for Americans, if you will, would come up in the rankings.

  26. Anonymous said...
     

    Wow. You are kind of an asshole.

    Bagged milk is only popular in eastern Canada. But even then, not everyone there drinks bagged milk. Plus it's rare everywhere else.

    Statistically, if you were to show bagged milk to a random Canadian, most of the time they'd be confused.

    It'd be nice if you'd do some research before posting.

  27. J Wynia said...
     

    They sell milk in bags in Wisconsin and parts of Minnesota and I think I've seen it in Michigan too.

  28. AmericaninCanada said...
     

    How do you figure it creates less waste in the landfill? You can either get a .25 deposit for returning the jug or, if you are too lazy to do that, you can recycle the jug. Great article though! As an American living in Canada, I've always hated the bags of milk! It's true. I do run screaming profanities when the stupid thing collapses on itself and spills all over the counter! And yes, I do use the stupid pitcher!

  29. Anonymous said...
     

    Bag milk was phased out in most parts of the USA because the bags were not recyclable. American kids might not remember bag milk, but there certainly was a period when bag milk was common in the US.

    It's kind of odd, but it seems that Canadians think that bag milk is a uniquely Canadian thing.

  30. Anonymous said...
     

    Actually at one point you could buy juice in a bag but it didn't catch on.

  31. Anonymous said...
     

    Seems to be a little COTU complex going on here by everybody.

    In the seventies there was bagged milk everywhere. Just because you do not have it now does not mean that it was never there.

    Just because they still use bags in Ontario does not mean milk bags are "Canadian" (unless you believe that what qualifies something as Canadian).

    Whoever it was that said "Statistically...blah, blah, blah...you should do some research next time": just because you say something is "statistically" empirically true does not make it so. The reality defence is no defence at all (kind of like most eastern hockey teams).

    Saying "It seems a bit odd, but it seems that Canadians think that bag milk is a uniquely Canadian thing" is ironically self absorbed.

    Anybody who has ever used a gallon carton knows why they tried bag milk; anybody who has ever dealt with milk bags open in the fridge knows why they were rejected (not recyclable...yeah right, the land of no deposit no return bottles).

    The Centre of the universe is not where YOU live (it's where I live, dummy...)

  32. Anonymous said...
     

    My brother drinks milk like it's going out of style so we go through like milk so darn much.
    I really hate it when people leave empty or near empty bags in the container. x.x
    Oh and I remember there actually being juice in bags. They came from Reid's Dairy and they were available in small take anywhere sized packages with a straw you stab it with and also a large one you put in a milk holder thingy. Mmmmm.... It was the best effing juice ever. I miss it.

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  34. Anonymous said...
     

    Bagged milk is only available in Ontario. The rest of the country buys milk in cartons and jugs, as does the rest of the world.

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  36. Anonymous said...
     

    1) I find it almost as humorous as the article itself that in the comments there was a fight over the prevalence of bagged milk.

    2) I live in Michigan. I know of bagged milk. And its power.

    3) With this technology, which I will sell to the CIA for millions, we (the Americans) will do something so amazing that we haven't even thought of it yet.

    4) This is a rather useful website, for someone living in Northern Michigan. So, gracias, amigos.

    5) Hi, Canadians! *waves*

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  38. Anonymous said...
     

    Omg if Americans don't do it, it isn't normal
    So what if we drink out if bags? get over it.

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  42. MickyMoist said...
     

    I would just like to say as an American I have been buying bagged Milk since 1993. There's a chain of convenience stores called Kwik Trip that introduced Bagged Milk to there shoppers years ago. Unfortunately, even though Kwik Trip is wide spread (sometimes 4 stores to a small town) they are only found in three states MN, WI and IA. I just moved out to Michigan and can't find bagged milk anywhere. I get weird looks from people when I ask. I GREW UP ON CHEAP GOOD QUALITY MILK DANG IT!!! Where in Michigan did these people in previous post find it?

  43. MickyMoist said...
     

    P.S. And Kwik Trip also has bagged juice.

  44. MickyMoist said...
     

    P.P.S. If you can't master the bag your a moron.

  45. Anonymous said...
     

    Jugs of milk are actually very common in Canada. It just depends which part you are in. I live in western Canada and was quite surprised when I heard about bagged milk-here we have only jugs and cartons. I was even more surprised when I heard that bagged milk was supposedly a Canadian thing. It just goes to show you how much disparity there can be between eastern and western Canada.

  46. Anonymous said...
     

    To the Western canadian who wondered if Canada has bags of chocolate milk .. a resounding YES! in ontario we have the same as white milk.. you can buy chocolate milk - buy it in 1L or 2L "boxes"/cartons OR you can buy it in 4L bags ( which is one bag that holds 3 smaller bags to fit in the reusable plastic milk jug 9 milk bag holder) It rocks! a dollar more tho than white milk in 4 L ( 3 bags in 1) . When chocolate milk in 4 L goes on sale at teh grocery stores.. ppl go nuts LOL. I remember in the 70s and 80s having the big jugs of milk.. prefer the 4 L bags of 3 - lasts longer so you dont have to go to the store everyday! Also you can freeze the bags if you want the milk to last longer ( good for ppl who dont drink a tonne of milk but want to save money and dont want their milk to go bad if they dont drink it all fast enough! ) Go Canada!! :)

  47. Anonymous said...
     

    Juice does so come in bags! Don't tell me American's don't have koolaid jammers!

  48. Anonymous said...
     

    Orange juice, and apple juice come in bags. So does wine, Vodka. I am originally from out west and they discontinued the bags cause people could not figure out how to use them and bitched and whined. But then the west seems to enjoy making huge amounts of waste, and so it goes.
    The empty bags make great storage bags or bags for the microwave. Really hard to freeze a jug, but 1.3L bags freeze well and are easy to store.
    Sewist friend cleans the bags and puts her sewing patterns in them, pretty neat way to store them.

  49. Anonymous said...
     

    Actually, when I was a kid, you could get juice in bags. They were called mini-sips.

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  51. kara said...
     

    Not strictly true that bagged milk doesn't exist in the us. I lived very near to canada (approx 30 minutes) as a child and our school served milk bags for lunch....I remember moving there and having to learn that skill of getting the straw in without ruining the bag and getting milk everywhere.. So while it is UNCOMMON bags of milk do exist in the us at certian locations.

  52. Anonymous said...
     

    Hate to tell you but this happens with jugs too

  53. johnbrown131 said...
     

    Typical Ontario attitudes, if they sell bagged milk then its a "Canadian thing" .

    Here in the "REST" of Canada we have absolutely NO CLUE what bagged milk is. I seen it for the first time when I visited my friends in Niagara Falls. I asked him why they do it and he responded "its better for the environment" , I asked him what he does with the bags and he shrugged his shoulders and says he throws them out !!! Well then I pointed out that our JUGS of milk in Western Canada go straight into the blue bins and are 100 percent recyled !!!!!!

    What a moronic idea thinking something is better for the environment when it goes it the trash and the "REST" of Canada is actually recycling their containers ..

    HAHAHA wait to go Ontario .. keep up the good work LOL

  54. Anonymous said...
     

    Okay, not everyone in Canada drinks bagged milk.

    In Nova Scotia, we do have bagged milk, cartons, and jugs. The common ones that people would buy are jugs or cartons, though. It's highly unusual for you to see bagged milk in our fridges. :T

  55. kragg said...
     

    Yeah bagged milk is a Eastern Canada thing. But we can also get milk in jugs and cartons as well. Not sure what the big fuss is about.

  56. Anonymous said...
     

    I can't believe how butthurt people are that they don't have bagged milk in the west. What a bunch of whiney babies starving for attention.

  57. Anonymous said...
     

    I think we're butthurt because people assume what happens in the East is automatically what all Canadians do. I think I saw a bag of milk once growing up in Winnipeg 30 years ago, and never since, either in Manitoba or Alberta. It's not a 'uniquely Canadian' thing, it's a 'uniquely Eastern Canadian' thing. Ask someone about a bag of milk here, and they'll think you're from Mars.

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