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American Dairy Company

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In the 1930s, the American Dairy Company produced a promotional film that was presented in San José movie theaters. The film shows the cows and workers on the American Dairy Ranch. Even then, the ranch was described as a rural escape from city living. The music was added later. What you see here is a short excerpt highlighting the landscape and buildings at the American Dairy. The music was added later.

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From the American Dairy ranch, located on Stone Avenue just beyond the city limits, which is stocked with a herd of purebred Jersey and Guernsey cows, the milk is brought within a few minutes after it has been drawn from the cows… Human hands do not touch the milk from the time it is taken from the cow until delivered to the consumer.
The Evening News, 2/11/1929

The American Dairy Company (ADC) conducted a thriving business throughout the first half of the twentieth century. The Dairy’s creamery at Seventeenth and Santa Clara Streets processed milk from Dairy Hill and other dairies throughout the county. The close proximity of the dairy farm to the plant meant that milk spent less time in transit, where it might be tainted. Just 12 hours after the milk came out of the cow, it was pasteurized, bottled, and delivered to ADC customers.

Azevedo and his employees prided themselves on producing high-quality dairy goods with the most modern equipment available. The processing plant was touted as a model for the industry. Management enforced rigorous standards for pasteurization, sterilization, and product handling. The American Dairy Company produced Grade A milk, a standard set by the Pure Milk Act of 1915. Maintaining the grade required frequent testing and inspection of facilities and cattle.

The American Dairy Company was a family operation. Azevedo’s nephew Manuel Bettencourt managed the creamery; one niece, Virginia, directed the dairy’s testing laboratory, while another, Alzira, ran the lunch counter at the dairy’s downtown location. After both Manuel Azevedo and Manuel Bettencourt had passed away, control of the dairy went to Bettencourt’s nephew Anthony Bettencourt, a banker by profession. Manuel Lewis’ family lived on the ranch and managed it for two generations.

In 1947 Borden purchased the creamery and the “American Dairy” name. The ranch became known as the “American Jersey Ranch” for the Jersey dairy cows there. The American Dairy Company continued operations under Borden into the 1960s.

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