Meyer Dairy

Meyer Dairy sells its milk in bottles to preserve the taste. (Photograph by Will Yurman)

Meyer Dairy, established in 1887, is the oldest continuously operated retail dairy in Centre County. The dairy store on South Atherton Street in Harris Township is particularly beloved for its milk, which is still sold in glass bottles.

Meyer Dairy was started when William C. Meyer bought a 120-acre farm on West Branch Road. In 1908, Meyer’s son, Curtis, and his wife, Elsie, took over the farm. Two years later, they began delivering milk on a twelve-mile route, competing with about ten other dairies.

For years, the Meyers delivered milk in a horse-drawn wagon (now on display at the dairy store) and later switched to a motorized truck. Customers included boarding houses in State College and fraternities at Penn State.

Curtis and Elsie Meyers’ sons, Donald and Joseph, took over the dairy in 1947. They soon stopped local delivery and began selling milk wholesale to the Dairy League in New York.

The Meyers left the wholesale business in 1970, when they built the dairy store at its current location. Donald, who graduated from Penn State with a degree in dairy manufacturing, tweaked Penn State’s ice cream recipe, and the brothers started selling ice cream at the store.

Milk is still the backbone of their business, drawing 700 customers a day. While most dairies no longer sell milk in bottles, Meyer Dairy still does so to preserve the taste. The bottles are prized collectors’ items, and the dairy buys more than 12,000 bottles a year.

Ice cream sales are brisk, particularly in the summer, when the dairy serves 300 customers a day. The dairy store also has a café.

Joseph and his son, Denny, run the dairy today on 1,000 acres they own and another 400 acres they rent. They have pastures for about 400 cows and fields to grow hay, oats, corn, and soybeans for feed.

In 2017, the Meyers partnered with the ClearWater Conservancy to put 300 acres of the dairy’s land in a conservation easement. The agreement ensures that the farmland around Meyer Dairy will be preserved. It will also help preserve the health of Slab Cabin Run, which flows through twenty-one acres of the Meyers’ property.

Karen Reichard


Sources:

Joseph Meyer. Oral History Interview with Mike Joseph, November 23, 2010.

Clear Water Conservancy. www.clearwaterconservancy.org/slabcabin (Accessed January 12, 2021)


First Published: May 20, 2021

Last Modified: August 23, 2021