The Question That Made Milk Famous


A well-known logo from the early days of the web: AOL’s “running man.”

Once in a blue moon, comes along a slogan that encapsulates the truth of an entire era.

Throughout the 1990s, AOL would cheerfully announce the arrival of each new electronic message with the greeting: “You’ve got mail.” Back in the early days of the web, one looked forward to receiving such communication. For one, the technology was a novelty. For another, it meant that the sender was a secret online lover or a chum or a family member—that is, people you wanted to hear from.

Today, Google celebrates the converse with the blunt text: “No new mail.” Activity in the inbox can mean either more work or more junk, neither of which is welcome. The e-mail has, over time, devolved into a tool of oppression. It’s a way for the boss to stay in touch with you after work hours. And in the hands of marketers, it’s an avenue to sell.

When people talk socially today, they connect over text, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Facebook, not e-mail.

“Got Milk?” It was this little question, which after its appearance in 1993, turned a piece of advertising into a cultural phenomenon. By the way, it also made milk famous.

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