How To Win Milk Can Carnival Game

Winning at Milk Can Game?

The Milk Can game is one of the oldest games at the midway today. The game itself is a test of skill.  Considering all the technological advances in carnival games, the Milk Can Game is a true test of time.

Object Of The Game

The object of the Milk Can game is to toss a softball into a 10-gallon metal milk can. Your grandparents would remember these cans. The dairies used to deliver milk in them. You don’t see them anymore unless you go to an antique  shop or a garage sale.  The cans at the midway were not exactly the same, at least the older ones. They had a concave piece of steel welded to the top of the can reducing the opening size of the can. The opening was just big enough to pass a regulation size softball.

Modern day Milk Cans like the one we manufacture have a removable milk can insert for the top. The concept is the same, reducing the size of the opening to increase difficulty. At a modern-day midway these are generally only used when the game operator is giving out jumbo stock. The player stands four to six feet from the can, which is positioned so the lip is lower than your eye level.

Tips To Play

Although the game is difficult to win, there are a few tips I can tell you that will help you win. Keep in mind the opening is only about 116   of an inch larger than the average softball. Some of my old carnie friends would tell me the best way was to put a back spin on the ball. Then aim for the back edge of the can so it will roll backward into the can. Let me tell you something, it takes a lot of practice to learn how to put a back spin on a ball and still throw it accurately. That could get expensive.

However, over the years I’ve watched many people win by tossing the ball directly into the hole.  There’s certainly no harm in asking the game operator to tip the can forward to show you the size opening before you hand him the cash. This way you get a feel for the size of the target.

The second tip would be to put as much arc on the ball as possible. Not always easy. Game operators like to hang the plush prizes from the rafters of the joint or tent. In this case there may be very low clearance to arc the ball. There are usually several cans set up so pick and choose which position to place a throw from to get the highest arc on the ball as possible.


Most players have a misconception that they are throwing a ball into the neck of a standard milk can, but usually the opening is much smaller. The Milk Can game is difficult to win, but normally is not gaffed.

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