A chequered red icon

The iconic Karoline Cow came into being by a bit of a coincidence in 1958 - created from the artist Grethe Rich's chequered red kitchen curtains and named by Prime Minister H.C. Hansen. Since then, it has become one of the Danish dairies' most famous trademarks.

Actually, the cow Karoline stood well hidden in the background of a draft advertising poster. In the foreground a smiling milkmaid who had to charm Danish consumers into buying more butter.

The poster was part of a large national campaign which was intended to promote sales of butter on the Danish market. It was launched by the Dairy Office (which was the name of the Danish Dairy Board at that time) after Britain in 1957 had reduced its imports of butter from Denmark.

It was the artist Grethe Rich from Aarhus who drew the first sketches in December 1957. The artist presented three sketches that were converted into posters. When the managing director of the Dairy Office saw the poster with the milkman and the cow in the background, he fell for the chequered red cow.

A cow made from kitchen curtains

Afterwards, Grethe Rich produced a separate poster with Karoline and a small fabric cow. The latter was created from the artist's chequered kitchen curtains, and it was the start of a career as the trademark of the entire dairy industry.

The Karoline cow as we know it today was completed on 28th May 1958. A model of the cow was produced in full size and was used at an event in Tivoli in Copenhagen. During the event, which was shown on television, the Prime Minister H.C. Hansen pulled the cow on stage saying: "Come on then, Karoline". Thus, the cow got its name -  in the following decades, it was used in the marketing of the Danish dairy industry.

Karoline became a common brand which was printed on export goods, brochures, calendars, cookbooks and on small cardboard collectables.

The simple, happy cow still has a great appeal to the Danes. The Danish Dairy Board owns the rights to the cow and still receives requests from people who want to use Karoline, but the use of the cow is reserved for the members of the association.

Purchase the cow

You can purchase a model of the iconic cow in wood as well as posters and postcards from the Danish Dairy Board webshop »» 

One of Grethe Rich's original drawings with the Karoline cow from 1958.