50 YEARS, 50 BOATS!
Milk Carton Boat Racing had it's 50th anniversary in 2021!
We've posted 50 images of 50 famous Milk Carton Boats, here and on social media. First, a history:
Milk Carton Boat Racing began in 1971 when advertising agency Campbell Mithun, Inc. wanted to increase sales for the Milk Foundation of the Twin Cities, a milk distributor.
One of those "thinking outside the box" brainstorming sessions was held earlier in 1971, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, to build a campaign to increase milk drinking by teenagers. Somebody mentioned an empty half-gallon milk carton was an air chamber that can support four pounds, and history was made.
"Publicity Stunt Snowballs Into Wild Event," rages the headline in the Pioneer Press, July 25, 1971. The article, by Linda Kohl, says the following of the boat race: "It could be the most spectacular nautical event since the sinking of the Titanic, and at the very least may someday be hailed as one of the great advertising coups of the decade."
"Ever since the whole thing started we've been getting 12 calls an hour about it. Milk-carton boat race -- that's all we hear about," a secretary told the reporter. Campbell-Mithun spokesman Fred Meyer said "It looks like it's going to be wild. We'll have to wait until we're on the scene to even guess how many will show up. (The first year had no pre-event registration -- 1,200 showed up!)
The article said before the race, 71 milk cartons were stolen out of an Edina garage! Neighbors put up "please donate" flyers, and the next week a squad car delivered 330 cartons for the kids who lost them.