A Christmas Movie and Canned Milk? You Bet’cha.

When this subject came to mind for a blog, I remembered watching a John Wayne western Christmas movie filmed in 1948 called “3 Godfathers.” It co-starred John Wayne and Ward Bond. In the movie John Wayne and his two compadres robbed a bank and were on the run, chased by Ward Bond, the marshal. They come across a wagon train that was attacked. All were killed except for a woman who’d just given birth to a baby boy. When the woman dies, John Wayne and his friends vow to take care of the child and see it safely across the desert to New Jerusalem. They find a few tins of Carnation milk in the wagon and make the baby’s bottles with that. They got so attached to the baby and fought over who’s turn it was to take care of him. It’s an excellent Christmas movie of redemption. I still remember the story even though I was pretty young when I watched it.


Canned milk would’ve been available in the Old West. It was among the first to be widely used.


In 1856, Gail Borden, an American, successfully produced sweetened condensed milk in cans for the first time and was granted a patent. With financial support, he launched the New York Condensed Milk Company in 1857. During the Civil War it was introduced on a large scale.


But to my surprise, canned fruits, vegetables, and some fish and meats were produced in 1812 by a small plant in New York. They were sold in hermetically sealed containers, not tins.


The cans were heavy and difficult to open.  At first the only way to open them was with a hammer and chisel. The first can opener came out in 1858 and it was resembled a bayonet and was dangerous to use. I can only imagine how many accidents happened! In 1870 a safer model was introduced however which was a godsend.

Through my research I learned that Del Monte didn’t produce its own brand of peaches until 1892. And Dole didn’t begin until after the turn of the century.


Here’s a list of the first canned foods:








In 1869, Joseph Campbell and Abraham Anderson started the Anderson & Campbell Preserve Company in New Jersey. But Joseph bought Abraham out and the Campbell’s Soup Company was born.  They expanded the business to produce ketchup, mustard, and other sauces in addition to soups.  And like they say….the rest is history. I doubt you can go into any kitchen in the U.S. today and not find Campbell’s soup.


This is just a glance at a few of the things a pioneer might’ve packed in his wagon when he headed west.


I found this information very surprising. We couldn’t live without canned foods in this day and time. What are your thoughts? How many of you use Campbell’s soup to cook with?

Here’s the official movie trailer if you’d like to watch it.


A Christmas Movie and Canned Milk? You Bet’cha. — 18 Comments

  1. I use can soup in my holiday cooking .
    I guess this a John Wayne movie I’ve never watched but I certainly would love to watch it.
    Thank You Linda you do have the most interesting blogs

    • Good morning, Glenda. I’m happy that you loved my post and found it interesting. This movie released in 1948 the year I was born. I must’ve watched it when I was about fourteen. I wonder how it’d be to watch it now and if it is as entertaining. Sometimes you can get these old movies in Walmart for a little of nothing. Or you can order from Amazon I’m sure. Have a blessed week, dear friend.

      Much love and big hugs!

  2. Good morning Linda. I agree Campbell’s soup is probably in every kitchen. Whether it’s the go to when sick Chicken noodle, or if it’s the standard cream of soups so fun to cook with.
    Speaking of condensed milk, you probably know this, but if you boil it in a pot of water rapidly boiling for an hour, it will turn into a creamy caramel to use for desserts.
    Thanks for all the wonderful info, I really had no idea that can foods dated back to the really early 1800’s.
    You have a blessed week and keep that beautiful smile shining through. Love you my sweet sweet sister friend.

    • Good morning, Miss Tonya…….Wow, thanks for telling me about condensed milk! That would be great on cakes. Maybe that’s what Tres Leches cake is? I know I love that. I keep Campbell’s soup on hand for a lot of things and I’ve really developed a liking for their split pea soup. I use the onion, mushroom, and celery in a lot of things and use it in my dressing at Thanksgiving. Ahhh, you’re so sweet. My mom had a smile that made you all warm inside. Maybe I took after her. I’d like to think so. I smile a lot, even when I’m alone. Ha! 🙂 I’m so sorry about Mike and that he had to suffer so much at the end.

      Much love and tender hugs!

  3. I did a re-telling of “Three Godfathers” in my Lone Ranger reworking – Lone Star Sons> Three young bachelors find a newborn in the desert – only I had them make do with a nanny goat.
    And Gail Borden had an interesting career, before working out how to condense and can milk. He was the owner and editor of a Texas newspaper – the one which went on functioning all during the Texas war for independence.
    More here – “Elsie the Cow and the Alamo”

    • Good morning, Celia……Thank you so much for coming! I’m going to have to read your Lone Star Sons. There’s nothing that evokes so much emotion in a reader as tough men trying to deal with a baby. It can be so funny and bring a tear to your eyes. I have a scene in Book 2 of my new series that comes out in April – Saving the Mail Order Bride. While looking for shelter, they find a dead woman who’d just given birth to a baby girl. Of course, they have to keep her. I don’t know if I consciously had the “3 Godfathers” in mind but I did think about it afterward.

      Have a wonderfully blessed week! Big hugs!

    • Good morning, Winona……..Glad to help. Thanks for coming. I miss you too, lady.

      Love and hugs!

    • Good morning, Tonya Cherry…….It’s a good movie with a great message. I think I’ll get a copy from Amazon and watch it this Christmas. Tired of the same old ones.

      Love you, lady!

  4. Most interesting. I had no idea when canned milk first came to be, but what a godsend to folks back then. I can remember cans being twice as heavy and thick as they are today and how Mom would struggle to open them. It was a great way to preserve food for long periods of time. I hardly use any canned goods these days, but some things like canned milk can’t be substituted. I don’t remember seeing this movie, but I’d love it!

    • Good morning, Jan…..I remember when I was about nine or ten Mom kept this baby for about a week. It was one that Uncle Luke brought. He was always good about dropping kids off with us. Anyway, Mom made a mixture of Carnation Milk and white syrup for the baby’s bottles and that’s what she fed it. I remember how good it made that baby’s breath smell. I think you’d like this movie. I’m pretty sure if I watched it you did too but maybe you were too small to remember it. The way the three men carried on about the baby was funny.

      Love you dearly, sister!

  5. I do use canned soup in casseroles but we aren’t much for eating canned soup. I do not make casseroles very often though. We prefer to eat homemade soups and stews instead of canned soups.

    • Good morning, Steph……I love homemade soups and stews, really love them! Sometimes though I’m too busy to make them and the canned comes in handy. Glad you enjoyed my blog.

      Love and hugs, lady!

  6. I would be lost without Campbell’s soup. I use it constantly all year long. I have some of the best recipes with the soups. My favorite is called Potato Casserole and is made with Golden Mushroom soup which is not as popular as you think it would. If interested, go to my Pinterest Board Recipes and you will find many of them. If you don’t see them, let me know. I will be happy to put them up there. Thanks, Linda Broday, for all the information.

    • Good morning, Cricket……..That casserole sounds delicious! I’ll go to Pinterest and look. Thanks a lot. I cook quite a few casseroles because I can eat on them for a while. I’m way too busy creating new worlds and filling them with interesting people to worry with cooking. I wish I could afford to have someone cook for me. Wow, that would be so nice! 🙂

      Love and hugs, pretty lady!

  7. I use canned soup in recipes all year long. I would be lost without it. I can always make a quick dinner if I have what my family calls cooking soups. My favorite is Golden Mushroom. I make a fantastic Potato Casserole. Many of these recipes are on my Pinterest board. If you go there and do not find them, let me know and I will make sure they get there. Thank you Linda Broday for this information.