Chicago crime boss Al Capone made his fortune bootlegging liquor during Prohibition. But as Prohibition died out in the early 1930s, the man known to the world as Public Enemy No. 1 was staring unemployment in the face. Capone needed a legitimate business if he was to keep turning profits, and he found it ultimately in another popular beverage: milk.
With the structure for beverage distribution already in place, the dairy business seemed a natural transition for Capone. On February 23, 1932, with funds raised from the Chicago Milk Drivers Union (well, $50,000 in ransom for the return of their union president, whom Capone had his men kidnap), Capone purchased Meadowmoor Dairies and embarked on his new career in milk. It didn’t last long. Within three months, Capone was sitting in prison for tax fraud.
Though his dairy career was short-lived, Capone did manage to leave his mark on one area of the industry. After one of his relatives became ill from drinking expired milk, Capone came up with the idea for the “sell by” expiration date, and lobbied to mandate it on all milk cartons.