When I initially started my blog on glue sticks a few weeks ago, I had intended to just write about glue in general but discovered that there was just too much variety in the glue category to stick them all together (pun intended). So while I love glue sticks, another favourite of mine is rubber cement. I think I have always used Elmer’s, although I know it is not the only brand. It is smelly and the brush-on applicator is a bit messy but it really is “no-wrinkle” and any excess that leaks out from the edge just rubs off. The bond is flexible and modern formulas are acid-free so therefore archivally sound.
The name Elmer’s comes from their weird cow logo. In 1929, the Borden Dairy company purchased Casein Industrial Glues. This actually made sense as casein is a milk protein and in three years they introduced a consumer version of casein glue. Borden’s spokescow at the time was Elsie. In keeping with the heteronormative culture of the time, someone must have noticed impropriety of a lactating cow without a husband so in 1939, they introduced her husband, Elmer. While the couple were busy in the first few years of their marriage promoting dairy products, by the mid-20th century Elmer had taken over marketing of the glue division.
Far in the back corners of my mind I remembered a little song about Elmer’s glue and used the internet to try to track it down. My search led to a blog called Music of the Underworld that stated the following: “The height of blasphemy is seen in such songs as The Holy Spirit and Elmer’s Glue. Check out the words. We’re bound together whatever we do by the Holy Spirit and Elmer’s glue.” Yup, that’s all there is to it. The song is one sentence long. I agree that they are not the deepest lyrics but hardly the height of blasphemy.
If Elmer’s rubber cement was a person and not a cow, they would be a bit out of touch with the times. Stout and a bit messy, they have a slight chemically smell about them so would encounter a lot of dirty looks as they blithely wander past the “this is a scent-free environment” signs. Nevertheless, they have an endearing quality about them that makes their faults forgivable.