One of the most iconic advertising figures of the 20th Century was Elsie
the Cow, the "spokes-bovine" for the Borden Dairy. She was created back
in 1936 as a mascot to represent the perfect dairy product. That means
she is turning 80 this year. The udderly charming queen of the dairy
scene has been known for her charm, wit, and bits of wisdom shared
through her "Elsie-isms."
Image via Facebook
The divine bovine started appearing regularly in magazines at a time of great industrial strife and economic upheaval around the world. She was created to put a friendly face on Borden products and give people a smile during hard times. Since then she was named one of the Top 10 Advertising Icons of the 20th Century by Advertising Age. She is one of the most recognizable cows, er, product logos in the United States and Canada. Her story is a mooooving one.
Elsie is a Jersey cow and several live bovines have been cast to represent her in real life. The first of these was a cow whose real name was You'll Do, Lobelia from Massachusetts. She was selected while she was participating in Borden's 1939 New York World's Fair "Rotolactor" exhibit (demonstrating the company's invention of the rotary milking parlor). She was the most charming and alert cow there so Borden hired her onto the payroll.
Image via Wikimedia
In 1940 Elsie became a married woman with the development of Elmer the Bull. He represents Elmer's Glue to this day. At the time this was a product of Borden's chemical division. In later years the pair were given four calves. First came Beulah and Beauregard in the 1940s, the Lobelia and Larabee, the twins, in 1957. They were, and possibly still are, the most famous family of cattle in American history.
My own association with the divine bovine came one Christmas when I was small and my gift from my second godparents (yes, I had a double set) was a stuffed Elsie the Cow doll. My godfather worked for Borden Dairy so it was THE toy of the moment. His daughter also received one at the same time. My Elsie was brown with yellow hooves, while hers was pink with black hooves. Both cows were extremely popular with us and we were udderly delighted to find that when you turned Elsie over she would moo. Strangely enough the toy cow did not come with an udder.
Image via Faceboook
For her work in the fields of brand marketing and dairy products Elsie has been awarded a number of honorary university degrees as Doctor of Bovinity, Doctor of Human Kindness, and Doctor of Ecownomics. In Wisconsin Elsie was named Queen of Dairyland and the Seneca tribe once made her an honorary chief.
In 1997 Elsie and the Borden name were sold to the Dairy Farmer's Association of America. Her "i-cow-nic" image is still in use on various cheese products. People still love Elsie. She even has her own Facebook page. She is definitely a queen among cows, and that's no bull.