Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Missing Piece: Fascist Cows?

I found this nondescript box at a sale last weekend.

Inside was a puzzle.  Browsing through the pieces, I noticed they were in non-traditional shapes.

Then I came across this piece.


My immediate thought was of a swastika.  I found another piece with a copyright date of 1933, the same year Adolph Hitler rose to power in Germany.

Among the pieces, I found these other recognizable shapes.

I proceeded to put it together.  As you might imagine, without a picture to go off of, it was quite a task, especially since the pieces didn't lock together.  I finally completed it after several hours.

It's a promotional piece for Swift & Company's Brookfield Dairy products featuring "Brooksie" the cow and friends. It's a fun, whimsical scene very reminiscent of Disney's art at the time.  And of course, the puzzle is missing one piece.  They always are.

I learned Brooksie's pals' names were "Blackie" (not on the puzzle), "Topsy" and "Eva".  The birds' names are "Ooky" and "Dooky".

So was this puzzle some sort of Nazi-bovine conspiracy?  Despite harboring a general distrust of cows, I don't think so.  The use of the swastika as a good luck symbol dates back over 2,000 years and is linked to Buddhism and Hinduism.  Along with the shamrock and the horseshoe, its inclusion would make sense.  Only since its use by the Nazi party  in the 20th century has it become stigmatized.

I found some other ads featuring Brooksie and her Pals.  The look like a wild bunch.

Image courtesy
Image courtesy

They even had their own trading cards.

 Image courtesy of eBay

 Image courtesy of eBay

Swift & Company is still in business, however, they appear to have given up dairy long ago to focus on meats.


FrankO said...

more craziness! those are some saucy bovines. that second ad down really does look like the old Merrie Melodies style, especially the horses with the ... harness?... thingie around its neck. (i'm not a farm boy -- i don't know farm terminology!)

Tom said...

>that second ad down really does look like the old Merrie Melodies style
They remind me more of the animals from Disney's "The Band Concert", especially with the pie-eyes.
>the horses with the ... harness?... thingie around its neck.
It's just called a collar. Nothing fancy.

FrankO said...

at least we agree it's mimicking a then-popular cartoon style of some sort. : )

Bob Johns said...

You always find some of the coolest things. And congrats on having the patients to put that puzzle together!

Tom said...

Thanks, Bob. It did take some persistence to solve that one.

Tom said...

Yeah, all of the studios influenced (or outright stole from) each other.

Chris Otto said...

Great work. This is such an incredible post, from discovering the suspiciously shaped puzzle piece, to putting the whole puzzle together, and then doing the rest of the research. What a great find. Are you going to keep it together? Maybe have it set and framed?

Tom said...

I haven't decided what to do with it yet. It's still sitting on my coffee table. It was so much trouble to put it together, I hate to take it apart. The pieces don't really lock together, so it would be hard to frame unless I glued it which I would hate to do.

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