A brief history


The story of The Laughing Cow® started in 1865 in Orgelet, a tiny town in Jura, in the foothills of the French Alps, renowned for the quality of its milk and cheese. It was here that Jules Bel founded an artisanal cheese dairy specializing in Emmental and Gruyere. Little did he know his company would grow as much as it did since then.

Thirty years later, his two sons, Henri and Léon, inherited the company and relocated the cheese dairy factory to the bigger town of Lons-Le-Saunier. The presence of a salt company and the nearby railroad were major factors in this decision, so moving the company was a strategic choice not only for transporting the products, but also because salt is an essential ingredient for making cheese.

During World War I, Léon Bel was assigned to the logistic corps of the army. There, soldiers began drawing humorous symbols on the supply vehicles, to identify the various units. The commanding officer asked Benjamin Rabier, a famous illustrator, to draw a symbol for his unit, the RVF (which stood for “fresh meat supply”). The illustrator then created the image of a laughing cow (in French: “La vache qui rit”), and a soldier nicknamed it “La Wachkyrie” which sounded like “La Walkyrie,” Wagner’s opera so beloved by the Germans. This illustration and nickname would inspire Léon Bel when he created the famous brand.

Not long after the war, Léon Bel met the Graf family, who had imported a new product — processed cheese — from Switzerland into France during the war. Léon, a visionary, saw the potential of this invention and, with the help of Émile Graf, revolutionized the factory processes to create the well-known recipe and launched The Laughing Cow in 1921.

Léon Bel had the idea to change the brand’s logo, based on a new illustration provided by Rabier. The image of the cow, formerly standing on all fours, was recentred and reduced to a close-up of its head. Rabier’s illustration got its red colour from the printer Vercasson. According to rumour, it was Leon’s wife who suggested adding earrings to the cow to give it a more feminine look.

Three years after production of our melted cheese began, Léon Bel outfitted his facilities with modern equipment, enabling him to boost productivity of his factory while improving working conditions. It was also at this time that the first machines were designed to cut the cheese and produce the triangular portions as we know them today.

The Laughing Cow continues its growth through the construction of a bigger and more modern production plant, still in Lons-Le-Saunier. The soft textured and creamy cheese gains an increasing number of lovers. This was followed by the opening of many branches throughout Europe. The brand then swiftly expanded its presence around the world.

The famous triangle cheese is now available across the globe. Every day, some 10 million portions are sold in 120 countries, making The Laughing Cow the fourth-largest processed cheese brand in the world. Its cheese products are made in 15 plants on four continents. In Canada, The Laughing Cow has been proudly and locally produced in Saint-Nicolas, Quebec, since 2007.

Our range of products has expanded significantly since the launch of the original recipe. Today, we are proud to offer The Laughing Cow Light, Jalapeño, Smoked cheese, Garlic and Fine Herbs and lactose free.