Our Novelties : la vache Qui Rit
THE LAUGHING COW HISTORY
Everything began in 1865, when Jules Bel settled in Orgelet, a small village in Jura, to create his cheese firm. He was buying white emmenthal or gruyère rolls from cheese cooperatives and dealt with their ripening. After 30 years of work, Jules Bel retired and entrusted his firm to his two sons, Henri et Léon.
In 1896, the two new owners transferred the firm in Lons-le-Saunier, which offered two advantages : an important railway and saltworks. Salt is one of the main raw materials to make hard cheese. After a few years, Henri left the company too, to come back and lead it in 1914, when Léon was enlisted for the First World War.
During the war, Léon was assigned to the military equipment trains, in charge of transport for the army. This regiment is composed of various units, including the RVF (Ravitaillement en Viande Fraîche-Fresh Meat Supply), which emblem is a laughing beef drawn by Benjamin Rabier. This beef is nicknamed « La Wachkyrie », a pun to refer to the Walkyries so dear to the German enemy…
Meanwhile, a new product was created in Switzerland: melted cheese. The Swiss family Graf imported in Jura in 1916. At the end of the war, when Léon comes back in Lons-le-Saunier, he realises this invention potential and, with the help of Emile Graf, launches his own brand.
In 1921 The Laughing cow was born, first sold in metal tins representing a cow on four legs behind a fence on which can be read : « La Vache qui rit ». The first production workshop is now The House of The Laughing cow in Lons-le-Saunier.
The product quality and Léon Bel’s marketing ideas make an immediate success for this cheese. In 1924, Léon Bel changes the brand logo, using a new drawing from Benjamin Rabier, the famous red cow. In 1926, a very modern factory is built : it still produces The Laughing cow for France and part of Europe today.
The specificity of this factory was its important integrated advertising department, where starting in the 1930’s, Léon Bel developed his commercial and marketing strategies. He created numerous subsidiaries in France and Europe, sending sales agents to every retailer in a true customised vehicles fleet, offering advertising equipments such as posters, enamel plaques, displays, in order to ensure the brand visibility ; the consumers and particularly the children, were offered a large scale of gifts, blotting papers, book covers or images to collect and gather in beautiful scrapbooks… In the 1950’s started the commercial spots, first in the theatres, and since 1968 on the television (once advertising was authorised on French television). From then, The Laughing cow never stopped to be a true icon, star of numerous adverts claiming the product quality or the conviviality it inspires…
Since then, the brand expanded throughout the whole world, starting with England in 1929 and Belgium in 1933. Nowadays, The Laughing cow is produced in dozen of countries, sold in almost 130, its name is translated in more than 20 languages and its red head is known worldwide.