Monday, December 23, 2013

Ever Seen a Purple Cow?

With all the chocolate that's in our house now that it's Christmas, it seems like as appropriate a time as any to focus on Wagner's purple and white milch cow. Especially after a weekend spent driving around enjoying the countryside in Washington State's Snoqualmie Valley, home to many farms including the original Carnation Dairy Farm. The weekend's got a sort of "moo-tif" going on...

Anyway, here she is, in all her glory:

I am afraid I must be a rather lame journalist at this time, because my paper files are still packed after moving house, but as I recall this sweet lilac cow was linked to Germany's Milka brand of chocolates. I'll update this information when I relocate my correspondence with the Wagners as I can't recall if the cow was an official promotional item, or one created to tie in with the great popularity of the chocolate as well as the famous ditty by Gelett Burgess:

                                                        I never saw a Purple Cow,
                                                        I never hope to see one;
                                                        But I can tell you, anyhow,
                                                        I'd rather see than be one.

The Wagner company was terrifically fond of cattle in general, producing them in a wide range of colors. There are black and white Holsteins in the herd, as well as pretty chestnut-brown Jerseys and brown-and-white cows. 

In addition to these gentle creatures, there exist fierce black and brown bulls, Brahman cattle, longhorn steers, American buffalo (bison), and a rare version that looks to be a European buffalo or wisent. 

And, of course, calves. And a lying-down version of a cow, in the large-size format.

The purple cow also makes an appearance in the form of a comical-looking creature sitting on its backside. Sometimes this version appears sitting on top of one of those moo-cans that you tip upside down, then turn right side up again so that it emits a lowing sound.

Milka promotes its chocolates with plenty of purple-cow parading and features a cow very like Wagner's mauve moo-er on its wrappers, complete with a little bell around the neck.

Some Wagner Kunstlerschutz collectors lament that they "never saw a purple cow" and really hope to see one. However, though this periwinkle bovine wasn't common a few years ago when she first trotted onto sites such as eBay, she seems to have become easier to find, perhaps as the craft shop liquidated its assets and passed along backstock to outside sellers. 

So if you don't find a purple cow in your Christmas stocking this year alongside all the chocolate, you might just be able to track her down online when you're deciding what to give yourself as a little gift this year.


  1. I love this purple cow! Poor Gelett Burgess would probably not, though. He later wrote this update:

    Confession: and a Portrait Too, Upon a Background that I Rue

    Ah, yes, I wrote the "Purple Cow"—
    I'm Sorry, now, I wrote it;
    But I can tell you Anyhow
    I'll Kill you if you Quote it!

    1. Yes, I seem to recall reading somewhere that he loathed that little ditty! But I never saw this rhyming rebuke of his so thanks for sharing that. I did love his "Goops" books when I was a kid.