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Here's why this South Texas dairy sells milk in yellow cartons

Addie Broyles
If you ever see a yellow milk carton, it's likely from Hygeia, a Harlingen-based dairy that distributes milk to the Texas coast and many cities and towns in South Texas. [Addie Broyles/American-Statesman]

When I was on North Padre Island earlier this month, we brought almost all of the food we needed, but we forgot a few supplies, including coffee and milk.

So, early on our first day on the beach, I went to the nearest Dollar General to buy a few things, and I stopped in my tracks when I saw the milk aisle because I thought it was the orange juice aisle. All the plastic gallons and half gallons were a bright yellow color, and I couldn't imagine them holding anything but orange juice.

But upon closer inspection, no, those were in fact cartons of milk, but I didn't walk out of the store until I pinpointed where the orange juice was, just in case. (It was 8 a.m. and I hadn't had coffee yet.)

The brand, Hygeia, was unfamiliar, so my first thought was that this was a new packaging choice the company had made for milk sold along the sunny Texas coast, maybe to block out the sun to keep the milk fresh for longer.

It turns out that I was right about the color being used to block out UV light, which helps preserve the milk for longer periods of time, but I was wrong that it was a newfangled packaging idea. Hygeia, which was founded in Harlingen and is now owned by the Dallas-based Ean Foods, has been packaging all of its milk in yellow containers since the late 1980s, and these bright yellow containers are sold at certain retailers throughout South and Central South Texas, including CVS and Dollar General. 

Despite a push in the late 1990s and early 2000s for the entire industry to switch to opaque or tinted cartons, it looks like Hygeia is the only milk company in the U.S. to continue using these bright yellow cartons.

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