For that was the day an experimental dairy farm in Plainsboro, N.J., owned by the Borden Company, inaugurated the “Rotolactor.”
Best described as a bovine merry-go-round, the rotolactor could mechanically wash and milk 50 cows in just twelve-and-a-half minutes.
Borden put a rotolactor on display at the New York World’s Fair in 1939. The story goes that when fairgoers kept asking which of the cows was “Elsie,” Borden’s advertising mascot, the company plucked a Jersey named You’ll Do Lobelia from the herd and cast her in the part.
She quickly became a celebrity in her own right, and even got an on-screen credit in the 1940 film version of Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Men.”
Sadly enough, You’ll Do Lobelia (a.k.a. Elsie) was injured in an accident in 1941 and had to be put down.
But she is remembered to this day in Plainsboro with a headstone.
Over the years, other cows have stepped into the role of Elsie. She’s considered one of the most successful advertising symbols of all time.
In fact, we’re told that she’s actually received several honorary degrees … most notably, Doctor of Bovinity.