Carnation Milk Truck

by gorillas don't blog


Those of you who haunt this blog (and the other many fine Disneyland blogs out there) have seen lots of pictures of the iconic Carnation truck that was parked outside of Disneyland's "Carnation Corner" for so many years.

A while ago I wondered (in writing) what ever happened to that much-photographed vehicle, and was surprised to receive an email from a gentleman named Elbridge Stuart. Here's what he said:

I ran across your blog mentioning the Carnation truck with the query about what might have happened to it. Designed by Bob Gurr and built by the Carnation Company in 1953-1954 it now lives, fully restored, at the Carnation Farm outside of Seattle. It is where the founder of Carnation and the next four generations of his family lived. It was given to us by the Disney Company which had put it in the back lot and did not know what to do with it.

And here it is!


Doesn't it look fantastic? I'm so glad that it is still around, and being cared for so nicely.

I asked Elbridge if he had any info about when and how the Carnation Farm acquired the truck, and he replied:

"My guess is... less than 10 years ago. When they went to retrieve it, the back lot staff insisted that the “Disneyland” name be removed from the vehicle before taking it off the lot. I guess for liability purposes. At any rate at was 11:45 and during the discussions the lunch whistle blew and the Disney staff went to lunch. Dave Owens ( the farm manager ) and his son loaded it on the flat bed truck and went home.

My father, who worked at Carnation and represented the company, worked with Walt during those early Disneyland days. He indicated that Walt used to love to drive the truck around but kept getting the narrow tires stuck in the rails of the main street trolley. He was always a little concerned when Walt would wrench the wheel left or right to get the tires out that Walt might run over someone.

In addition to the truck, we also have the big vertical neon Carnation Ice Cream sign that hung just over the front door of the Main Street store. I am trying to get it relit and hung outside our museum at the farm."

Elbridge also included these scans from the March/April 1956 issue of "Carnation Magazine" (back in the day when many companies published their own magazines). SO fantastic!

Here's a great photo of Elbridge's dad serving a delicious-looking milk shake to Walt (notice the Smoke Tree Ranch logo on Walt's tie). I asked about his father, and he said:

My father's name was E. Hadley Stuart Jr, and was the grandson of the founder of the Carnation Company. He started working at the company after college in about 1940. He worked at a number of milk plants in Washington State and the southern US before working at the new world headquarters in Los Angeles... I believe the new headquarters was opened in 1948. My father continued at Carnation until 1961 when he left the company. was probably my father who had the relationship with Walt. He and probably others at the company negotiated the contract with the Disneyland Park for the exclusive right to provide milk and ice cream products. There is an unsubstantiated urban legend that the company also helped Walt get some financing for the park. The park was a stretch for a bank to take a chance on and Walt was having trouble getting financing. The board of directors of Carnation in the 50s contained some California and Washington State high placed bankers. Some members of the Carnation executives also were placed on the boards of some of the same banks. A very cozy relationship.

And finally, one last photo with the Carnation truck, with Ebridge's father and Walt apparently showing the beautiful vehicle to an admiring crowd. Check out those odd hats on the kids! 

I do remember as a child, that every year at Christmas, Walt sent us a big box of Disneyland toys that always a lot of fun getting. We also had a type of pass or card that would get Dad and us into Disneyland just by showing it.

Original blog Post: