Borden Turns 150
Beloved brand is honored at special event in New York.
To commemorate June Dairy Month and the 150th anniversary of the Borden brand, a scrapbook compiled by and including handwritten notes by Borden founder Gail Borden — the “Father of the Modern Dairy Industry” and inventor of condensed milk — was donated to the New York Historical Society.
The scrapbook, along with a portrait of Borden on a metal printing plate, will remain permanently at the historical society. The real Elsie the Cow, Borden’s beloved mascot, joined company and museum officials for a presentation ceremony held on the steps of the historical society. Accompanying Elsie (who travels in a 40-foot “cowdillac” trailer) were her handlers, along with 90-year-old Jim Cavanaugh, one of the original “Borden Boys” and one of the men credited with selecting the first Elsie at the 1939 New York World’s Fair.
The Borden Boys were 60 young agriculture and dairy college students recruited to handle the cows at the Borden Exhibit during the fair. Cavanaugh, today one of only nine surviving Borden Boys, maintains personal contact with the close-knit group. “Borden and Elsie have a rich history, especially within the state of New York,” Cavanaugh said. “It is gratifying and heart-warming to return to New York with Elsie almost 70 years after the World’s Fair to participate in this momentous event.”
Alexander Hoyt, whose family owns the original John Gail Borden homestead and 100 acres of the famous Borden Home Farm in Wallkill, N.Y., donated the items to the historical society. The scrapbook was only recently discovered, while the tin portrait was found many years ago, just after the Hoyt family purchased the homestead and farm acreage in 1950.
“Gail Borden founded one of the most enduring brands in American history and we felt it important that this personal scrapbook showcasing his thoughts and interests be preserved appropriately,” Hoyt said.
Marilyn Kushner, curator and head of the Department of Prints, Photographs and Architectural Collections at New York Historical Society, added: “We are pleased to add the Gail Borden scrapbook and tin portrait to our library collection. Gail Borden spent much of his life in the state of New York. He was a scientist, farmer and businessman who revolutionized the dairy industry, so it is fitting that some of his personal possessions have found a permanent home at the New York Historical Society.”
The Borden brand has been a fixture of Americana through parts of three centuries, 30 U.S. presidents, two world wars, the Great Depression and the birth of rock and roll, noted Tom Camerlo, chairman of Dairy Farmers of America, which owns the Borden brand. “Very few brand names have resonated with consumers over as many decades,” he said.