On this date in 1918 there was a goat traveling around Fargo, quickly going from one owner to the next. “Get the Kaiser’s Goat” was a unique method for encouraging the sale of War Thrift Stamps. Consisting of a large portrait of an evil looking billy goat with the inscription "Der Kaiser's Goat", the package included a book in which the names of the Goat Getters were recorded as it was passed from one person to the next. Before the goat could be passed on, a subscription of War Thrift Stamps ranging from twenty-five cents to ten dollars a month for the rest of the year had to be promised by the holder. New members also called in to the committee to record their pledge and to track the progress of the goat.
The idea originated with the Fargo Forum and was further developed by Walter Cushing and Joe Pierce of the War Saving Stamps Committee of Cass County. The initial drive began on at 12:00 PM on March 2nd when A. W. Cupler, chairman of the Cass County committee, sent the goat on its journey. The Order of the Goat Getters was so successful that it garnered twenty-seven members in the first hour raising over two hundred dollars in pledges. To ensure that the pledges were honored, the committee collected them at the end of each month.
An additional element of fun was implemented in which the individual who was in possession of the goat at noon of each day was declared “Grand Goat of the Day” and he who had the goat at sunset was declared “Supreme Goat of the Night.”
So successful was the campaign that Fargo collected over fifteen hundred dollars in pledges for each month through the end of the year. Other cities in North Dakota soon followed Fargo’s lead and established corrals. Within weeks, the novel idea had spread across the United States. Orders for the Kaiser’s Goat came in from across the nation within days after an Associated Press article on Fargo’s success hit the newspapers. Many developed their own ideas using goat replicas instead of the portrait, and in Fargo and other communities, more than one goat made the rounds. It was a simple, fun idea and by the end of the first month it was estimated to have generated one hundred thousand dollars nationally in the sales of Thrift Stamps per month. One Indiana newspaper proclaimed that Kaiser’s Goat was the “Goat that made Fargo Famous.”
Dakota Datebook by Jim Davis
Fargo Forum, March 2, 1918
Grand Forks Herald, March 4, 1918
The Richland Palladium and Sun Telegram, Richland, Indiana March 20, 1918
Jamestown Weekly Alert, April 4, 1918
Devils Lake World and Inter-Ocean March 27, 1918