Our Sweet Story

milo-teaEarly Years (1946-1988)

Milo’s has roots stretching back to the Great Depression. In 1939, Milo Carlton could be found in his brother’s North Birmingham restaurant, the Dipsey Doodle. Milo did everything from mopping the floors to locking up at night. He spent two years learning as much as he could about the restaurant business, including the most important thing — listening to the customers!

A member of the National Guard during World War II, Milo’s unit was mobilized in February 1941. It didn’t take the Army long to realize that Milo was gifted in the kitchen, and he found himself assigned to the Food Service Division while on active duty. Uncle Sam sent Milo through three different cooking schools, and for the next four years, he cooked hamburgers in jeeps, on planes, on ships, in the back of trucks, in mess tents, and on beaches in four different countries. He even found time to open a hamburger shop in Australia, where he taught the locals Down Under just how an American burger should taste.

Honorably discharged in 1945, Milo returned home and married his sweetheart, Beatrice Bannister Carlton (“Bea”), and they set out to make Milo’s dream a reality together.  On April 16, 1946, they opened the first Milo’s Hamburger Shop on 31st Street and 12th Avenue North in Birmingham. Milo and Bea set out to give customers a unique experience — whether it was the extra slice of beef on their burger, special sauce, handmade pies, ice-cold fresh brewed tea or other fresh foods and drinks — customers always got more than expected. It’s also where Milo met his first great hurdle.

The war might have been over, but the rationing of staple items such as sugar was not. Milo found himself faced with a dilemma: et Bea use the sugar ration to make pies or give the customers sugar to sweeten their tea. It dawned on Milo to try something no one else considered — he eliminated the sugar bowls from his tables and began to presweeten the tea himself.  This ensured enough from the sugar ration for both pies and sweet tea!

Although this innovation seems perfectly ordinary today, in the 1940s, customers initially balked at the idea. However, when they tasted Milo’s Famous Tea, they realized it was different — better than they could make themselves. Soon the tea was as in demand as the burgers, fries, and pies. Milo’s became the place to go not only for great food, but for the finest tea they had ever tasted.

Modern Era (1989­——Today)

In April of 1989, Milo’s began brewing and distributing its Famous Sweet Tea in gallon jugs to grocery stores in the Birmingham area. Milo’s was an instant success. Customers were looking for a refreshing, freshly brewed tea like their grandmother used to make, and Milo’s did not disappoint. That is because it is fresh brewed, just like your our grandmother used to make.  It contains only fresh, natural ingredients befitting the Milo’s quality standards.  From there, Milo’s grew, adding one store at a time. In 1997, we launched Milo’s Unsweet Tea and in 2006, we added our No Calorie Sweet Tea sweetened with Splenda. 

In 2014, Milo’s will introduce Milo’s Decaf (sweetened with Pure Cane Sugar), Milo’s Mix (Famous Sweet Tea with Lemonade) and Milo’s Lemonade. Today, Milo’s can be found in the refrigerated section of fine retailers across the country.  Visit our Milo’s Locator to find a Milo’s retailer near you.