Wednesday, March 02, 2011

The laughing cow

Since few weeks, I have been writing several posts complaining about the French postal administration. I must admit that I’m not very happy because I do not like complaining.

Today I would like to show you that the French post is not really demanding regarding what you use to frank your mail.

Here is a cover I received from a friend (I will respect his anonymity since what he did could be considered as illegal ;-) ).

As you can see the cover is not franked with a valid stamp. He used a label coming from a box of cheese from the very famous brand “la vache qui rit” (the laughing cow). He took this label, wrote “la poste” and 0.58€ (the standard rate for a letter in France) and that’s it. As you can see the cover reached me without issue, without tax and was cancelled normally! Funny, no? This is really strange because the label does not look at all as an existing stamp. My friend even wrote me in the letter contained in the cover: you will probably never receive this letter…

I don’t know if this cheese brand is very famous out of France but it is very well known among French people. I think we all have eaten such cheese when we were kids. This is not really a cheese by the way but a sort of cream cheese made of all sort of old cheese. This is a very old brand, more than 80 years old. The emblem of the brand is the smiling red cow that gives the name to the cheese: the laughing cow. The red cow always wears ear rings made of boxes of the cheese. This is an example of “recursion” because on the ear ring boxes you can see the picture of the cow wearing ear ring boxes… and again and again.

The choice of the label made by my friend is interesting for various reasons.

First because it pictures a cow. This is a tribute to my new topic of collection!

Second reason is more complex. French philatelists (including myself!) complain a lot about the quality of the stamps issued by French post. They complain about the huge amount of stamps with garish colors, picturing stupid topic. They often refer to them as “etiquette de la vache qui rit” (laughing cow labels!).

Third one is because French post will actually issue a stamp in 2011 picturing the laughing cow to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the brand. So my friend is a precursor.

So to conclude this post I would say that now I understand why the French post does not take so much about stamps: because you don’t need them anymore to send your mail! ;-)


Matt said...

Laughing Cow is very popular in America and I have eaten it since I was a small boy.

I enjoy your blog and this was a treat!

toon said...

Eric, so funny this story!
I made a short note on my weblog
with reference to your site.
It is in Dutch, so your site will probably get visitors from the Netherlands.
In Holland we also have vache-qui-rit cheese next to our own Gouda cheese.
Thanks Eric!

Sam Lopez said...

Honestly this is super funny and sad at the same time. Nice idea from your friend. I really laughed reading this story, you can call me 'le Sam qui rit'.
La vache qui rit is very popular in Portugal too, along with the 'Tiger cheese' (i don't remember where that come from). Those are the 2 most popular and sold cream cheese of that type - round boxes with individual triangles.

I have received mail from portugal without any stamp on the cover. That happened twice, the sender forgot to put the stamps. He prints addresses on covers with the official normalization of the PO (text font, size, measures, etc), so maybe it just went straight to the machine, and it didn't detect the stamps missing.
But forging a stamp with the laughing cow is just too darn funny