Site of the World’s First Condensed Milk Factory
I’ll Condense the Story, But I’m Still Milking It
Yeah, that’s right. A page about the world’s first condensed milk factory. Trust me, this is one of those things that you’ll thank CTMQ for later, like when you’re at a cocktail party or bar and someone, attempting to be hip, mentions how they love the Bánh mì at such and such Vietnamese joint (because these days everyone is yapping about their love of Bánh mì) and then foodie number 2 will chime-in about how he simply has to have a Vietnamese coffee with his Bánh mì and the two of them then begin comparing their favorite food blogs and the relative merits of the Double Down sandwich.
That’s when YOU, dear reader, step in and interject, “Hey, you know how they put a bunch of condensed milk in your Vietnamese coffee?”
“Yeah, that’s right. So you know about it?” one responds as he sizes up your worthiness. That’s when you respond with the coup de grace:
“Well, yes, I sure do know about it – but I also know that the world’s first condensed milk factory was right off of what is now Burr Mountain Road in Torrington.”
Enjoy and bask in the stunned silence.
(Of course, then I can go in for the kill and mention how I’m married to a Vietnamese immigrant who’s been eating Bánh mì and drinking so-called Vietnamese coffee (hot AND iced) for 35 years, but you may not have that second round of ammo. No matter, this page should give you more than enough to be the coolest cat at the party.)
Gail Borden (a dude), discoverer of the process of milk preservation by evaporation and condensation, built the world’s first condensed milk factory there, along the stream by the falls, in 1857. The new milk product proved to be of great value, particularly to the Union Army during the Civil War. Fire destroyed the mill in 1877 and Borden moved his operation to New York.
Gail Borden’s name is familiar to you because his name, Borden, went on to become a giant in the condensed milk (and other) business. While this factory, and a second one failed, he eventually (obviously) succeeded at some later point. He acknowledged this in his gravestone epitaph: “I tried and failed, I tried again and again, and succeeded.”
More Borden facts? Try this one on for size: Borden died in 1874 in Borden, Texas. He was a humble Justice of the Peace in the recently formed Colorado County, where Borden is located. His experiments in Colorado County included canning beef. Ironically, the railroad charged more for transporting canned beef more than it did beef “on-the-hoof”and while it was feasible, it wasn’t profitable until after Borden’s death. He also worked on a “Beef Biscuit” which wasn’t well received.
Also, out in the panhandle, there’s Borden County. Borden actually never set foot in Borden County, nor the County Seat, Gail, which was named for him posthumously as well.
I think that’ll shut the faux-foodies up for a while.
Oh, and here’s how to make real Vietnamese coffee too, complete with pictures of actual Borden’s condensed milk.