Elsie the Cow, Borden Company’s mascot since 1936, is a national icon. Created during a time when dairy prices skyrocketed and larger dairy companies needed to be portrayed in a better light, Elsie the Cow helped make Borden feel more approachable to the general public. Elsie appeared alongside other cartoon cows of various names in journal ads. Elsie became so popular that she received fan mail from all over the country.
Her official debut however, was not until the 1939 World’s Fair. Borden bought shares of Walker- Gordon Dairy, and at the 1939 World’s Fair, they debuted a revolutionary automated milking machine, called the Rotolactor. This machine could milk 150 cows in around 12 minutes. During the Rotolactor demonstrations the most common question asked was which cow was Elsie? A cow named “You’ll Do Lobelia” was brought forth and renamed Elsie. Elsie the Cow was milked by herself on the Rotolactor twice a day for the duration of the season.
Elsie the Cow, the real cow, would go on to tour the U.S to promote the Borden Company and its products. The Wicoff House Museum has on display some adorable Cow Boots that were supposed to have been made for Elsie by her handlers to give her traction and to prevent her hooves from damaging floors while she was on tour. We, however, do not have any concrete evidence that she actually wore these boots.
The first Elsie the Cow met her unfortunate demise in 1941 after a tragic road accident. Her tombstone can still be viewed on the Walker- Gordon property, though it no longer resides over her original grave.