In 1999, Hannah Spinrad was a pre-teen figure skater whose favorite pastime was ripping Got Milk? advertisements from the magazines in her Dad’s doctor’s office. She collected them all, starting with iconic figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi’s before moving on to other celebrities like Britney Spears and Joshua Jackson. “I thought of myself as an athlete, even though I wasn’t a great one,” Spinrad recalls now, with a laugh. To go with her Got Milk? obsession (by the way her Bat Mitzvah was Got Milk? themed), she also drank tons of milk growing up, like most ‘90s kids. “My mom was hardcore into milk,” Spinrad says. “As an athlete, it was appealing, I guess, because it was all about strong bones, preventing injuries… you know, just being strong.”
The Got Milk? Campaign, widely considered one of the most successful advertising campaigns of all time, is a feat of reputational magic. For a while there, it gave a product as boring as cow’s milk a sheen of coolness and vitality. The celebrities who were photographed were always posed as though they were sitting for a fashion editorial or glowing profile, holding their guitars or dribbling a basketball or sitting in a makeup chair getting glammed — all while sporting a hilarious (and looking back, disturbingly thick) milk mustache. The message was clear: Powering these extraordinary humans is this ordinary product that you can drink, too.
Cut to nearly 20 years later, though, and that notion seems embarrassing now, the way ultra low-rise jeans and belly chains do. Spinrad hasn’t had a drop of dairy milk for years, after doing an elimination diet ahead of her wedding. Her “milk” drink of choice these days: Almond, obviously. “I don’t even really like almond milk that much, to be honest,” she says. “It’s just a low-calorie replacement for something that I don’t feel like I need to put in my body. I think there’s just something psychological about calling it milk.”
There is perhaps no greater emblem of the major makeover American food culture has undergone in the past three decades than the fall of dairy and the rise of almond milk. In the 1970s, Americans drank over 30 gallons of cow’s milk per person per year. By 2016, we only drank 18 gallons, and the numbers keep going down. Meanwhile, the almond milk industry is only growing: As of February 2018, almond milk is …read more