Friday, August 26, 2005

Elsie the Cow

Recently, I blogged about an Elsie the Cow lamp I wanted on eBay, and one of my readers commented, asking me if I knew that Elsie was "married" to Elmer, of Elmer's Glue fame. I told her yes and it inspired me to share with you a little history behind their union as well as Elsie's star-studded past.

Below, I have made a collage of some of the old Borden print ads commonly found in magazines throughout the 40's, though they continued on through the 60's. You'll see the evolution of Elsie's look.

The ads were like an ongoing story about Elsie and her family, often reflecting/dealing with real-world issues of the time. Elmer was almost always disgruntled-looking, outraged about something (i.e. the war, the recession, Elsie's independence, his teenage daughter's choice in music, etc.) but ultimately was a softie when it came to his wife and kid(s).

Looking over the old advertisements, I found the one where Elmer is intent on going to the White House to complain about the recession, when Elsie tells him: "But, Elmer," protested Elsie, "you can't blame Congress for the shortages." History really does repeat itself! My other favorite is where Elmer accompanies Elsie and their teenage bovine daughter, Beulah, record shopping at the department store. Naturally, Elmer dislikes teen daughter Beulah's taste in "music." Lol! Some things never change!

In 1936, Borden launched a series of advertisements featuring cartoon cows, including Elsie, the spokescow for Borden dairy products. In 1940, compelled by Elsie's popularity, Borden dressed up "You'll Do Lobelia," a seven-year-old, 950-pound Jersey cow from Brookfield, MA, as Elsie for an exhibit at the World's Fair. She stood in a barn boudoir decorated with whimsical props including churns used as tables, lamps made from milk bottles, a wheelbarrow for a chaise lounge, and oil paintings of Elsie's ancestors -- among them Great Aunt Bess in her bridal gown and Uncle Bosworth, the noted Spanish-American War Admiral.

When RKO Pictures hired Elsie to star with Jack Oakie and Kay Francis in the movie Little Men, Borden needed to find a replacement for Elsie for the World's Fair exhibit. Elsie's husband, Elmer, was chosen, and the boudoir was converted overnight into a bachelor apartment, complete with every conceivable prop to suggest a series of nightly poker parties. In 1951, Borden chose Elmer to be the marketing symbol for all of Borden's glue and adhesive products.

In 1929, the Borden Co. purchased the Casein Co. of America, the leading manufacturer of glues made from casein, a milk by-product. Borden introduced its first non-food consumer product, Casco Glue, in 1932. After World War II, Borden expanded into synthetic resin glues which did not use casein.

The product known today as Elmer's Glue-All was first introduced in 1947 under the brand name Cascorez, packaged in two-ounce glass jars with wooden applicators. Sales did not take off until 1951 when Elsie's husband, Elmer, was chosen as the marketing symbol. In 1952, Borden repackaged Glue-All into the familiar plastic squeeze bottle with the orange applicator top.

Elsie the Cow and her husband Elmer have two calves, Beulah and Beauregard.

Elmer's Glue-All is the best selling glue in America.

P.s. I went to the Texas State Fair a few years ago and they still have a live Elsie on exhibit in one of the buildings, still set up the same way! I love tradition!


Blogger Terri said...

Thanks for educating me! Seriously, I did not know any of that stuff! NEAT!

Friday, August 26, 2005 10:44:00 AM  
Blogger Mariana said...

Elsie makes me think of a Lucille Ball + La Vache Qui Rit love child. See what I mean?

Saturday, August 27, 2005 6:35:00 AM  
Blogger TinaPoPo said...

Wow. That's really cool. I like.

Saturday, August 27, 2005 8:46:00 AM  
Blogger Kirkkitsch said...

You betcha! I know that you, not unlike myself, enjoy pop culture history, which I always find fascinating. :)

I can totally see it. That's great! Lol!

Thanks! I thought it was interestng. I had no idea that glue was a milk by-product. Strange.

Thanks for taking the time to comment! :) Love your blog, BTW. Poor kitty paws. :(

Tuesday, August 30, 2005 11:41:00 PM  

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