What You Never Knew About The Chick-Fil-A Cow Mascots

Some food mascots seem to have a Hannibal Lecter complex or even an extremely unhealthy self-love that manifests as self-devouring. Take Churchie the chicken from Church's Chicken. He exists to convince you that his feathered brethren are delicious, leading us to believe he eats them, too. The mascot for the now-defunct Philadelphia chain, Little Baby's Ice Cream, was a person made of sentient ice cream that creepily praised and ate itself in surreal ads (via Eater and YouTube). But the Chick-fil-A mascots are a whole different animal. Literally.

After falling into the same pattern with its original mascot, Doodles the rooster, Chick-fil-A chose cows to tell people to eat its delicious chicken. While the company's chickens might be incensed – or they would be if they weren't busy being tastily fil-A'd – it makes perfect sense from the standpoint of beleaguered bovines tired of serving as burger fodder. The Chicken Wire writes that it all began with a 1995 campaign for "self-preservation" kicked off by a billboard depicting two "rebel cows" painting "Eat Mor Chikin." Their endearingly misspelled plea paid off, and more chickens paid the price. The cows went on to star in commercials, dress in costumes, and have people dress in cow-themed shirts (via Chick-fil-A Apparel).

But there's more to Chick-fil-A's cows than a heartwarming story about one species condemning another to become a sandwich filling. Those bovines have lives outside of Chick-fil-A. And while they've escaped the BK flame-broiler, they've been embroiled in legal battles.

Milking chickens for all they're worth

According to Psychology Today, animal research demonstrates that cows have individual personalities and complex emotions. They may even have best friends (via The Guardian). In the case of Chick-fil-A's cow mascots, they also have individual names. We don't mean humans dressed in cow costumes, which Chick-fil-A also has. In 2015, Business Insider said the brand also had a quartet of trained Holstein cows named Molly, Freckles, Freedom, and Cat. (Mental Floss  spells the fourth cow's name "Kat," but since cows can't even spell "chicken" correctly, we doubt it will make a difference to them.)

We assume the cattle mascots are best friends, but two of them are also related. According to their caretaker, Cowboy Phil, Freedom is Freckles' mother (via YouTube). At the time, all four lived together like one big happy family at an animal rental site. From the sound of things, they've enjoyed a placid existence. A "normal day for a cow is eat, lay down, and sleep," Cowboy Phil explained. Chick-fil-A's cows also trained daily to do tricks for which they're rewarded.

The cows' success has spawned imitators. According to QSR, in 2000, Chick-fil-A sued Burger King for launching an ad campaign that included animated chickens who implore the public to "Eat More Beef" because in this case, turnabout was fowl play. In 2014, Chick-fil-A lost a lawsuit against a Vermont artist who adopted the slogan "Eat More Kale" (via Eater). That's something cows and chickens can probably agree on.