History of Elmer’s Glue

Whether you’re an adult who’s into arts and crafts or you have a child that likes to be creative, then you’ve definitely heard of Elmer’s Glue. 

But have you ever wondered about how it first hit the shelves? Or why is there a bull on the bottle? Well, if you’re still curious, then keep reading this article for more about the history of Elmer’s Glue. 

When was Elmer’s Glue Invented

In 1947, the Borden Company first introduced Elmer’s Glue. The Borden Company, also known as Borden Inc, was founded in 1857 in Connecticut by Gail Borden Jr. 

There was a time when Borden was the biggest producer of pasta and dairy products in the US. Their food department, Borden Foods, worked out of Columbus, Ohio. The company’s food division mainly focused on bakery products, snacks, processed cheese, ice cream, pasta and pasta sauces, jams, and jellies. 

Borden Foods became famous for its Creamette pasta, Borden Ice Cream, Meadow Gold Milk, and Borden Condensed Milk brands. The company’s industrial and consumer products division handled plastics, adhesives, wallpaper, and resigns. 

To some people, it might seem surprising a company such as Borden Inc that started in foods ended up creating Elmer’s Super Glue. But this isn’t that far a leap when you learn that one of the early ingredients, the main ingredient for the earlier form of glue, was casein which could be found in dairy milk. 

Who invented Elmer’s Glue?

When the Borden Company started manufacturing glue, the company had become a conglomerate. Being a conglomerate, the Borden Company employed a team of chemists to develop glue.

Ashton Stull was the vice president of Borden’s chemical division from 1938 to 1968, and he supervised the team. Stull wasn’t listed as the inventor because the company didn’t patent the glue. But later, in 1990, Georgia Tech honored Ashton Stull by giving him their “Dream Maker Award” for Stull’s part in creating Elmer’s Glue-All. 

Origin of the Cow on Elmer’s Glue Label

A cow has been the logo for Elmer’s Glue for many years, but that wasn’t always the case. It wasn’t until later that the cow became one of the most recognizable logos in the US. 

The Borden Company developed Elsie the Cow as their mascot in 1936. Elsie, the Cow, was meant to symbolize the “perfect dairy product.” 

At the time, the Borden Company understood the urgent need for solid marketing for milk and dairy products. During the early 20th century, milk often had diseases. The cows from the farms often carried Tuberculosis and other diseases from filthy conditions on the farms. 

The Borden Company was one of the first companies to use a pasteurized milk dairy farm. It was more expensive, and the company needed to convince the public that it was worth the extra cash. 

Stuart Peabody was employed to supervise the advertising during the 1930s. He and Borden’s illustrator, Walter Early, created a friendly picture to convince the public to trust them. 

Together, Peabody and Early invented the cartoon character, Elsie. They designed Elsie to be a cartoon cow with big, warm brown eyes. She would also have a friendly and open face. Along with her lovely face, Elsie would wear a necklace of daisies around her neck. 

The Borden Company introduced Elsie to the public and, she quickly became popular. A 1940s survey found that more than 90% of Americans recognized Elsie. Even today, Americans still can recognize Elsie as Elmer’s logo. 

Elmer the Bull becomes Elmer’s Glue Mascot.

As Elsie became popular over time, the logo would include an entire All-American family. Elsie’s family would consist of her husband and cow mate, Elmer (in 1940), and their children, their son Beauregard and their daughter Beulah (in 1948). Later, in 1957 Borden introduced twin children, Lobella and Larabee. 

David William Reid designed Elmer the Bull during the 1940s. Elmer the Bull had been the mascot for Borden’s milk products for nearly a decade before becoming the mascot for their glue. Their family became a big hit with the public in their advertising and marketing campaigns. 

Because Elsie’s family and home life were beginning to feature more and more in Borden’s advertising, Elsie’s home life often included her husband Elmer the Bull and her children. 

What made Elmer the perfect mascot for Borden’s glue was that he was always mending things for Elsie. Elmer’s face as the company’s glue logo perfectly fit the family dynamic. 

Borden Company officially chose Elmer the Bull as the advertising symbol for all of their adhesives in 1951. During this time, Borden rebranded their glue from Cascorez Glue to Elmer’s Glue-All. 

The company also repackaged their glue in a white bottle with an orange twist cap. The bottle would have The company placed Elmer’s name and face prominently on the bottle.  

The customer-friendly bottle and Borden’s extensive marketing led to Elmer being a successful logo that still appears on the glue’s packaging today. 

Evolution of the Elmer’s Glue Logo 

The logo for Elmer’s Glue has gone through plenty of changes over the years. In 1943, Borden’s “Cascorez” glue made its public debut. The glue came in a two-ounce glass jar and wooden applicators. 

Today, “Cascorez” is only a formaldehyde adhesive. Cascorez (™) CV-815 can be used as a water-resistant finish for veneer and wood. The Cascorez glue is also still used as an industrial adhesive. 

Later in 1951, Borden rebranded their Cascorez glue and renamed it Elmer’s Glue. Borden exchanged the original glass jars for squeezable white bottles with orange twist caps. 

How Elmer’s Glue-All became Elmer’s School Glue

Later, the company was looking to expand its product range. Elmer launched its first Elmer’s School Glue range in 1968. 

The school glue would be the first white glue that parents could easily wash out of children’s clothes. Both types of glue would have the same ingredients but in a different formula. The school glue would also have different packaging. 

Later in 1983, Elmer released their lines of glue sticks. This release was after teachers requested glue was more manageable for their learners to use in class. They wanted a glue that was easier for their students to use and would create less mess. 

Just over two decades later, in 2013, Elmer’s would launch their natural version of their school glue and name it “Elmer’s School Glue Naturals.” 

This school glue is mainly made from natural products such as corn and plants. It was the first and only glue made from natural ingredients and came in recycled packaging. 

Who Owns Elmer’s Glue Today 

It’s been more than seventy years since Elmer’s Glue first hit the shelves. Not only has the packaging changed, but different companies have owned the glue over the decades. 

In 1947, Elmer’s Glue was first owned by Borden® Company when it was initially namedCascorez Glue. It wasn’t until later that the glue was renamed Elmer’s Glue-All. 

During the mid-1990s, a private equity firm named Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) purchased the Borden Company. The firm created Elmer’s Glue as a separate entity. 

Since then, Elmer’s collected other companies in the craft industry. The company focused on creating high-quality home repairs and school, hardware, and crafts use. 

The Borden Company had been in business since 1857 when they first opened their doors in Connecticut. But in 1995, the company has divested into different brands and divisions because of financial woes. 

In 2003, Berwind Corp bought Elmer’s Products before merging with Hunt Corporation. The corporation is the owner of Boston brands and X-ACTO. This merger brought together the two leading companies in craft and office products under the same umbrella.

Being under the same ownership allowed Elmer to go further than adhesives and break into the crayon business. In Canada, Elmer’s received the license rights for creating a Harry Potter box of crayons. 

Newell Brands have owned Elmer’s Glue since 2015. The company is an international manufacturing, marketing, and distributing company based in Atlanta, Georgia.

About the author

Jennifer is a stay-at-home Mom who loves everything DIY and crafting. She contributes to Just Use Glue in order to share her practical knowledge of how to glue all the things.

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