In one of my trips to the supermarket, I came across this particular brand of milk that caught my attention. (which inspired me to write this entry)
While today’s generation may find this milk only on a few supermarkets and as an imported brand at that, for our parents and grandparents who grew up in the 1950s to the 1970s, seeing this particular brand evokes a certain nostalgia. After all, it was one of the leading milk brands in the country in its heyday.
In 1957, shortly after the opening of the country’s first milk processing plant, Consolidated Philippines introduced Darigold to the country and opened up its own milk processing plant, a brand they licensed from Darigold’s manufacturers, Northwest Dairymen’s Association (now known as the Northwest Dairy Association) headquartered in Seattle, Washington in the US.
The interesting thing about Darigold’s manufacturers is that they are not a corporation in the league of large food manufacturers like Nestle and Unilever. In fact, the Northwest Dairymen’s Association is itself a cooperative of dairy farmers. Thus Darigold’s tagline in the US that it is “farmer-owned.”
Going back to the main story, Darigold in the Philippines went to produce evaporated and condensed milks, pitting it up against Liberty, which at that time was the leading milk brand in the country. But Darigold managed to not only put a good fight, but also became one of the top (if not the top) milk brands. All thanks to the company’s aggressive marketing and, most importantly, good product quality which was the milk’s creaminess that Filipinos fell in love with.
At the height of its popularity, Darigold managed to snag airtime in the booming Philippine television programming, an early afternoon slot for a variety program known as “Darigold Jamboree.” Hosted by various emcess over the years like Bobby Ledesma, Pepe Pimentel, and Leila Benitez, the show which ran from 1964 to 1972 showcased many up-and-coming artists, bands, and performers, most notably a 12-year old Bicol lass who won in the program’s kid singing contest and went to become an acclaimed singer, actress, and botched National Artist. (but that’s another story) Yeah, that girl was Nora Aunor.
Farewell and a return…sort of
But like many beautiful stories, the Darigold story came to an end by the 1970s. More unfortunate was the fact that it was an ugly end brought about by a court dispute between the parent company in the US and Consolidated Philippines. I suppose the litigation wore out the parties concerned that the resolution of the case mattered less to the decision of pulling out its operations completely by 1976.
Since then, Darigold faded into the nostalgia of the people who had the privilege to taste it, while the succeeding generations grew up not knowing that it existed.
As a postscript though, it did manage to make its way back in the early 2000s,..well, sort of. This time, it did not come here anymore with a local partner but as an imported item. Also, what we now see (at least in some supermarkets where it is available) is not the evaporated and condensed milks our parents and granfparents got to know before. Rather, it is a milk product itself, with a creamy goodness which may have been the same as what Filipinos had tasted which made them love Darigold before.