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Elsie the Cow
Courtesy of Hilary Rossen

Later to become the home of "Elsie the Cow", the Borden's show of "the actual operation of getting clean milk from clean cows, and what happens to it afterwards", was one of the high-tech attractions in the Food Zone.

One of the ads found in the First Edition Guide pictured a cow saying "see me get milked on a merry-go-round." The remainder of the ad stated "New wonders and secrets of science" new magic with milk … no end of fascinating new things to marvel at, await your visit to the Dairy World of Tomorrow!"

Borden Corporation
Borden Corporation
Trylon Tidbits
  • The pavilion displayed Milk Wagon No. 1, first built eighty two-years previously by the company's founder, Gail Borden.
  • Milford Bader delivered the milk and its by-products produced at the pavilion to the fair's concessions.
  • Following Elsie Borden's wedding on August 7, her handlers took her, in rouge and wedding dress, to be milked far past her usual time.
  • Borden waved its rule of not allowing visitors to the cow barn so blind-from-birth Rosa Bernstein could "see by feeling" a cow. She expressed amazement at its size, thinking it to be the size of a collie, and the location of the horns.
  • Pavilion employees installed a protective molding around the four-hundred cowhide strips decorating the dioramas illustrating milk production after eager souvenir hunters began snatching them up.
  • Mrs. Benjamin Harrison, widow of the former president, stood too close to the outdoor calves' pen. One of the occupants poked its head through the bars and grabbed the hem of the First Lady's dress. Mrs. Harrison won the tug-of-war.
  • A reporter passing by the Borden pavilion at 3:00 A.M. noticed a single cow walking up and down the Rotolactor. Her attendant explained: "Insomnia, son. She's got insomnia."
  • A sharp – eyed visitor complained that the "stream of milk" pouring from the 40-quart can overhead had accumulated a layer of dust.
  • On May 8, the pavilion introduced Green Meadow Melba, a $10,000 prize Guernsey. She produced 15,342 pounds of milk and 963 pounds of butter fat in one year for her owner, Benjamin Riegel of Trion GA. Melba appeared in a special glass enclosure, away from the 150 cattle herd at the pavilion. The Amsterdam News opined: "New York children know so little about country life that they will revel in Melba." Melba returned to her home in Georgia after a month's respite in "The World of Tomorrow."
  • The pavilion announced a "Miss Americow" competition between twelve of its herd and three from the Electric Farm and the Firestone exhibit. The judges, including John Powers (of the modeling agency fame), Frank Buck and Norman Bel Geddes, selected six-year-old Ayrshire, from the Borden herd, as the winner.
  • Five days before the fair opened, the first calf was born at the pavilion. Three more followed in close succession. The Sun editorialized: "A world's fair would seem to be just about the last place for a calf to be born. It was about the one thing Mr. Whalen did not expect or arrange."

    Four little World's Fair calves are we,
    Born in the thick of the pageantry –
    All to the fair and the world quite new
    Here just in time for a fast preview.
        H. I. Phillips

    On the fair's opening day, Sedgely Phede gave birth to a fifty-three-pound Swiss bull calf at 5:30 A.M. On June 7 handlers christened the first-born calf with a bottle of milk and named it "World's Fair Design."
  • The pavilion held a mating session every day at 8:00 A.M. Behind canvas curtains, five bulls, one for each breed, did their duty. By the end of the 1939 season, twenty-three calves had been born at the Borden exhibit.

Borden's Rotolactor

  • A note from the University of Arizona Agriculture Extension Service on the Rotolactor: "Never before in the history of dairying have cows been displayed to the public under conditions which so favorably demonstrate the intelligence and dignity of the animals."
  • The handlers selected 150 thoroughbred cows from more than 18,000 offered for the display.
  • Pete Bluth, recent Michigan State College graduate, recognized Dorothy Lee Parathancea Ormsly, a six-year old participant in the Rotolactor. Bluth attender her since her heifer days on a nearby farm.
  • An irate woman accosted the attendant at the Rotolactor: "They say you milk those cows all day long. If that's so, it's downright cruelty and the police ought to be told. Where I come from we milk the cows only twice a Day, once in the morning and again at night. The idea!" The attendant calmly explained the Rotolactor milked the cows only three times a day on a rotating schedule.
  • Display artists painted a blue sky with gold leaf stars above the Rotolactor to keep the cows contented.
  • The herd of 150 pure-bred cows set an all time milk production record in June, 203,676 pounds of milk: 6,789.3 pounds average daily; 47.9 pounds per cow.

Borden's 1939 World's Fair Cookbook

108 World's Fair Recipes from Borden's

In 1939 Borden's produced a 32-page cookbook with recipes for everything from Appetizers to Soups, all using the wonderful Borden's products.

View a copy of the Borden's cookbook on line.

Borden Corporation
Borden Corporation
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