Photographic print, Patricia's Milk Bar, Max Dupain
'Australia, however, stepped out on its own when, a dozen years or so ago, it evolved the "milk bar", since copied all over the world',
-Australian soda fountain and milk bar practice, 1940.
A focus on milk shakes distinguished the Australian milk bar from its US predecessor the soda fountain. This combination of unlicensed cafe, cheap restaurant and children's confectionary store achieved a rare popularity in Australia. Unlike hotels, milk bars provided a venue for eating and socialising that was available to all, in contrast to the male monoculture of the pub. Most notably, milk bars were a recognisable and welcoming environment to non-British Australians, becoming a recognised vehicle for migrant business.
Milk bars were the most accessible expression of architectural modernism. Apart from Douglas Annand, the designers and artists to work on milk bars and cafes during the 1940s and 1950s included Marion Hall Best, Nado Milat, Imre Soos, Roy Grounds, Samuel Lipson, Clement Meadmore, Leonard French, Geoffrey Mewton, Walter Bunning, Hugh Burich and Bernard Hesling.
Milk bars opened wide to the street, and their abundant use of chrome, plastic veneers, glass and lighting created an inviting brilliance. Basking in fluoro and neon, the milk bar clientele - teenagers, families, couples and children - became part of its distinctive look, setting milk bars apart from shadowy hotels and tea rooms.