Updated: Jul 22, 2022
You already know Elsie, the world-famous Holstein and spokescow for the Borden Company - but since her role in advertising and movies, she laid the groundwork for several other famous cows that you might not know about.
Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow
Catherine O’Leary, an Irish immigrant living in Chicago, became famous when it was rumored that her dairy cow started the Great Chicago Fire in 1871. The fire initially started in O’Leary’s barn, and given the climate conditions of that time, the fire spread and engulfed a large percentage of the city. A Chicago Republican reporter made the conjecture that a cow had kicked over a lantern in the barn, starting the fire. It wasn’t until over 20 years later that the reporter would admit he made up the story, exonerating the cow and the O’Leary name.
Clarabelle is an anthropomorphic cow (aka a cow with human characteristics) introduced by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks in the 1930s production The Shindig. She is presented as the best friend of Minnie Mouse and the girlfriend of Horace Horsecollar - although, during her resurgence in the 21st century, she is paired with Goofy due to their similar personality traits. She is often seen wearing her signature cowbell jewelry, has a love of gossip, and infuses her speech with melodious moos.
Ada the Ayrshire
Ada the Ayrshire is the creation of cartoonist Walt Wetterberg, who made his career using humor and cartoons to capture many of the different aspects of farm life. Ada the Ayrshire was one of his earliest known creations and a title character in two of Wetterberg’s collections of works. Many of the Ada Ayrshire comics can be found in farming journals like Better Farming’s Out Our Way comic strip.
The Laughing Cow
You have probably seen this infamous cow without realizing it - featured in your local grocery dairy section on the round containers of spreadable cheese that you may or may not know how to eat. The Laughing Cow is a brand of processed cheese product that has been made by Fromageries Bel since 1921; the brand is more popular in France, the UK, and Canada - but you can find it on the shelves in the US, too. The Laughing Cow mascot is portrayed as a jovial cow with ear tags resembling the same cheese product containers that the company’s product comes in.
Also known as “Miss Wayne,” Pauline Wayne is the infamous White House cow belonging to President William Howard Taft, replacing the lesser known cow, Mooly Wooly. She was responsible for providing the First Family with milk during their stay in the White House and could be seen grazing the lawn on occasion. When Mooly Wooly died, Wisconsin Senator Isaac Stephenson presented Pauline Wayne to the Tafts as a replacement. She was a popular showpiece at the International Dairymen’s Exposition in Milwaukee in 1911. While being shipped, her car was mistakenly misrouted to the Chicago stockyards. After missing for two days, the attendants found her and convinced the stockyard that she was the Presidential cow, saving her from slaughter. Pauline was the last cow to graze the lawn of the White House and was considered a beloved pet of the Taft family.