What happened to some favorite milk brands
It was almost synonymous to bouncy, healthy kids that made your lola’s summer “halo-halo” delightfully creamy, and turned her leche flan so delicious the whole family kept craving for more.
But as in some love stories, the whirlwind romance must end and lovers drift apart, never to see each other again.
Darigold would have become a generic name for milk, had it not pulled out of the country during martial law days. But that’s going ahead of the story.
Under Darigold Company Seattle subsidiary, Darigold produced the first canned evaporated milk in the country in 1957.
At the height of its popularity, Darigold bought a 30-minute segment (on TV and radio) and launched “Darigold Jamboree” to strengthen its presence in the Philippines.
Media biggies Johnny Wilson, Eddie Ilarde, Bobby Ledesma, Bentot, Pepe Pimentel, Thelma Kennedy, Leila Benitez and newcomer Luz Valdez alternately took turns in hosting in what would become the country’s most popular noontime show.
The “Eat Bulaga” of the ’60s helped Darigold become a dominating market leader in the evaporated milk category.
In this show, “Darigold Jamboree” introduced the “lucky home partner” mechanics we always see today (send in your labels and you and the contestant win a prize if your label is picked).
“Darigold Jamboree” also set the stage for the debut of a Bicolana girl from Iriga, the bus-station drinking water peddler who would become a superstar.
Hard-pressed to win because her parents could not afford her older sister’s tuition, Nora Cabaltera Villamayor joined the show’s “Bulilit” singing contest. She won the P20 major cash prize, exactly what her parents needed.
She bested older singers in the main competition bracket, winning the top prize once more.
On a roll, she won another, this time from Darigold’s archrival, Liberty Milk’s “The Big Show,” where she would later change her name to Nora Aunor.
Aunor later on joined “Tawag ng Tanghalan,” where she stood out on her first try, was defeated on the second, but unstoppable for 14 suspenseful weeks. The rest is history.
“Darigold Jamboree” enjoyed a great eight-year run, starting in 1964 and bowed out in 1972.
The brand first advertised in 1958 and would eventually square off with Liberty Milk for two decades.
Like reigning movie queens Susan Roces and Amalia Fuentes in that era, the competition was ominous for it led to another generation of movie star rivalry: Nora Aunor and Vilma Santos. But that’s an entirely different story.
Darigold is best remembered as a milk brand the whole nation fell in love with because of its creamy goodness.
It had aggressive marketing, wider media presence and fundamental basic fact: good product quality.
“Darigold was an example of a brand worth selling. You stock crates of them, you sold them easy,” says a grocery owner who is now owner of a supermarket.
“Brand-wise, everything was going for Darigold,” he says.
“Darigold scored high in research ratings,” says a successful Rockwell restaurant owner.
Many moms called their kids “Darigold” for being energetic, active and healthy. “Laki sa Darigold,” they say. The jingle, sung by a little boy went with these lyrics: “Gusto ko ng gatas ng Darigold” (brand name repeated 3 times). Darigold ang inyong bilhin!”
Multinational brand heritage, rich creamy smell and taste, attractive red label with visible bold font, omnipresent media presence, top-of-mind awareness, wide distribution and strong nontraditional advertising support, what could possibly go wrong with a brand with tremendous consumer acceptability?
Why did the brand evaporate from supermarket shelves, household kitchen refs and cupboards?
The same questions throngs of consumers asked when Darigold slowly began to fade away, until it totally vanished.
For 20 years, Darigold operated a processing and tin can plant in the Philippines.
As it was lording the evaporated category and close to upstaging Liberty in condensed milk segment, the local Darigold partners were locked in a bitter legal battle with its mother company.
After the courts handed down painful decisions for both, the brand vowed out of existence in the mid ’70s.
Liberty Evap and Liberty Condensada were very popular during the ’50s but tapered down in the last two decades after ownership of the brand changed hands.
For many years, Pinoy families loved the goodness of Liberty Condensada, the better-selling product variant. It said “Ang paborito ng pamilya,” throughout its advertising campaign.
Thematically, Liberty had a bouncy jingle with a woman singing the brand name repetitively, the predictable genre during that time.
In strategic alliances with global food giant Societe de Produits Nestle, Alaska Manufacturing Co. acquired Liberty, along with Alpine and Krem-Top brands on April 16, 2007.
A most recent supermarket store check, however, proved futile—the brand can’t be found. Storeowners say it doesn’t exist anymore.
On its website, Alaska mentions Liberty and Alpine as its strong regional brands, particularly in Visayas and Mindanao.
Alpine is a made from whole cow’s milk with “The Creamier Evap” market positioning.
In the ’50s, Klim, Milkmaid and Dutch Baby also advertised heavily in the country’s best-selling magazines: Philippine Free Press, Nation and Kislap-Graphic as well as in leading newspapers like Manila Times, Manila Chronicle, Manila Bulletin, The Daily Mirror and Evening News.
With the coming of more magazines targeting women and housewives, like Women’s and Woman’s, these milk brands cranked up the heat and advertised heavily, in full page, full color almost all-year round.
Pancho Pantera Choco was another favorite that totally disappeared, a powder brand marketed in the Philippines during the 1960s. PPC was manufactured in the US but distributed locally by Garrick Enterprises, Philippines Inc.