longwhitekid

Catching Up With The Kid

In "K", "K" Brand, Canned Goods, Centennial Kirkpatrick House, Kirkpatrick, S Kirkpatrick and Co Ltd, S. Kirkpatrick & Company on June 28, 2014 at 10.46

Kirkpatricks Nelson Melon & Lemon-Plum  jam Tin  copy

As I have passed the milestone of publishing one hundred articles quite a while back – I now find I backtrack on a regular basis to add interesting titbits as they come up. These may be things that I think will enhance a story I’ve previously considered I’m done with. This may be as new information comes in, or I run across relevant images – or perhaps a descendant or collector contacts me to offer something I may be interested in; data they have that fills in a gap in a story.

This week I’ve made small updates to quite a few previous articles with pictures and revisions, and these are noted at the foot of the article with an addendum.

Here’s several images of an incredible stash of ancient “K” products from S. Kirkpatrick & Co which came up for sale a while back. I am guessing these date from the late 1910s-through the early 1920s. It’s rare enough to find any labelled and unopened cans, particularly this old. I’ve maybe seen one or two from this brand over time. But a few at once? I was intrigued.

I contacted the seller to satisfy my curiosity and they explained that they were found stashed in an old, forgotten cupboard of a long-abandoned house they had recently acquired. I also contacted the buyer, wondering why someone I didn’t previously know of as a collector had bought them all in one go. As it turns out they are the current owners of the renovated Kirkpatrick House that I feature in my previous article – and have decided to collect anything associated with the former owners.

Most of the envelopes further down, as well as the ginger tin, came up for auction around the same time, albeit from a different seller. You can see the previous story on Kirkpatrick and the “K” brand  here.

Kirkpatricks Nelson Marmalade Tin  copy
a

 

Kirkpatricks Nelson Baking Powder Tin copy
a

 

Kirkpatricks Nelson Tomato SoupTin  copy
a

 

Kirkpatricks Nelson Cayenne Pepper Tin copy
a

 

Kirkpatricks Nelson K Damson Tin  copy
a

 

KirkpatricksTin tops copy
a

 

K Brand Kirkpatricks Ground Ginger Tin  copy
a

 

Kirkpatrick and co K brand Envelope Solpak apples 1940s edit
a

 

K Brand Tomato Soup, 1940 colour advertising cvrKIRKPATRICK  North Shore Stamps crop

“K” Brand Tomato Soup, 1940 colour advertising cover, image courtesy of North Shore Stamps.

a

Kirkpatrick and co K brand Envelope spagetti in tomato sauce  1940s edit
a

 

K Kirkpatrick Spaghetti with tomato and cheese 1945 NZ Bill envelope with advertising edit

“K” Brand  bill envelope with advertising, 1945.  Image courtesy of the Alexander Turnbull Library collection, ref Eph-A-FOOD-1945-01.

a

Kirkpatrick and co K brand Envelope baked beans flavoured with pork and tomato sauce  1940s edit
a

 

Other updates as follows:

 

The Creamy Dragon Strikes Again

Continental Love

Bite Size: Reconstituted Retro

When It Finally Dawns: Sunrise Cordial and The Galliens

Edible And Credible

Fruits Of Commerce: The Bountiful Depictions of Joseph Bruno Moran

Don’t Mess With The Classics

A Trail Goes Creamy and Cold

Man’s Best Trend: Commercialising Our Critters

Perfitly Preserved

In My Cups

Somewhat Wireless, But Not Brainless

Coupon Conquest

Projecting The Past

When Lactose Goes

a

a

a

All content of Longwhitekid copyright Darian Zam © 2014. All rights reserved.

A Frosty Phenomenon

In "K" Brand, Abel's Ltd., Batchelor's Surprise Peas, Birds Eye Frozen Foods, Birds Eye NZ Ltd, Butland Industries, Clarence Frank Birdseye, Continental Foods, Continental soups, Crest Fine Foods, Frying Saucers, Goldman Sachs/Postum Cereals, Handy Andy cleaner, Impulse deodorant, J. Wattie Foods Limited, J.R. Butland, Kirkpatrick, Knights Castille soap, Lever Bros (N.Z.) Ltd, Lever Products, Lifebuoy, Lucky Whip cream, Lux, Margarine Unie, Monkey Brand soap, Oak, Rosella Foods, S. Kirkpatrick & Company, Simplot, Solvol soap, Stockpot vegetables, Surprise, Thompson & Hill, Unilever, Van den Bergh Foods, Vim cleaner, Wall's ice cream, Wall's Ice Cream Ltd, Wattie Cannery Ltd, Wattie's, William Hesketh Lever on June 11, 2014 at 10.46

Crest Surprise dried  beans box recreation  copy

A recreation of  panels from a Surprise dried beans box, dated some time between 1970-76. I used a picture of a box sold on Trade Me in order to remake the graphics.

a

Who remembers the Surprise brand? Everyone should. Especially the peas. I recall well how they were heavily advertised on television in the late 1970s and early 1980s – it was on relentless rotation!
However it may have been forgotten that Surprise were around long before that; as far back as the 1950s in New Zealand with pea and bean products – both dried and frozen.

Initially I wrote this article on the premise that the Surprise brand likely started out as a subsidiary of J.R. Butland’s Crest Fine Foods, later Butland Industries, given the logo is prominently displayed on the packaging. Crest was for some time the most successful (mainly canned) food business in New Zealand until usurped by the Wattie’s line (Butland had his initial success with the invention of Chesdale Cheese and was also behind the Goldpack fruit brand amongst others).

History is confusing around how the Crest brand passed from one owner to the next. My research shows that the brand changed hands in 1959 – but that Wattie’s kept producing the frozen stuff on behalf of Unilever until 1961 or so. Another record shows the Crest brand passing via S. Kirkpatrick & Company Ltd (the “K” Brand) to J. Wattie Foods Limited in 1960 (Wattie’s had also bought both “K” and Thompson & Hill’s OAK brands in this year).

shopper holding packets of surprise peas at Merrylands Shopping Centre, NSW  1966 editjpg

A shopper holding packets of surprise dried peas at Merrylands Shopping Centre, NSW, Australia. Taken in 1966 by Ern McQuillan, image courtesy of the National Library of Australia colelction, ref nlapic-vn4984301.

a

I’d have to see more examples of packaging with notations on company details to develop a better tracking – but I would say that this was referring to the canned business, not the frozen and dried goods portion (Crest also included spices and sauce lines) – as by the early 1970s the Surprise brand, along with hugely popular Wall’s ice cream (covered here in September 2013) – is being marketed under the auspices of Birds Eye Frozen Foods NZ Ltd, a Unilever subsidiary. As the Crest brand died off for good around the mid-late 1970s that part was dropped by Unilever and the Surprise brand was slotted under Continental.

I assumed Surprise was by Crest – and that when Butland had supposedly sold the brand to Unilever (who then added some more product lines like packets of dried “Stockpot Vegetables” for various soups, amongst others) they acquired the Surprise line/ brand from Butland in the deal as well.

Just when I thought I had this all sorted – a Surprise sliced apples box appeared online for sale indicating it was manufactured by “Crest Foods Limited” alone. It’s similar to the box pictured here dated first half of the 1970s – except it seemed to have an imperial price written on it in pencil. Did Crest hold a license from Unilever for Surprise then conceded later? A quick check of records shows that the address for Crest on the box, at Jackson Street, Petone, Wellington – was the same address for Unilever’s Birds Eye.

Crest Surprise dried apples  box recreation  copy

 A recreation of  panels from a Surprise dried apples box, dated some time between 1970-76. I used a picture taken of items in a mock grocery store in an unknown museum collection to remake the artwork. It slightly differs from the earlier box at bottom.

a

A potted Unilever history: William Hesketh Lever launched Sunlight Soap in England in 1885 and it was imported to Aotearoa until operations opened in Sydney in 1899 – at which point importation of the product into New Zealand switched to Australia. However it was not until quite late in the piece, 1919 in fact, that Lever products were produced domestically. In 1920 Lever merged with Dutch fats and oils business Margarine Unie modifying the company to an amalgamation of the two monikers – Unilever.

It’s the usual story with many Trans-Tasman companies – the development was quite separate as is the case with Unilever (until recently). Down under, Unilever spent a number of decades, well into the 1980s, still referring to themselves as Lever Products/Lever Bros (N.Z.) Ltd until they acquired the brands Oxo, Bushells, Faggs (coffee), and John West – and along with their Quality Packers business (including Choysa, Perfit, Red Rose and Q-P) all merged to form Unifoods NZ in 1988.

Over the years Unilever also produced Monkey Brand (household cleaning soap), and Lux was an enduring brand over the decades with soap powder, dish liquid and toilet soap lines. Other toilet soap brands were Lifebuoy, Castilever, Solvol and Knights Castille. Household cleaners Vim and Handy arrived in the 50s and 60s; Marge’s toothpaste and Impulse deodorant debuted in the 1980s. Soups included Continental , Country Style and Slim-a-Soup. There was instant Savoury Rice in beefy onion, Chinese style, and mild curry flavours. The Abel’s brand had vegetable oil, margarine, and copha – and Lucky Whip was a canned aerosol whipped cream. Frying Saucers, which I remember, were a frozen snack for deep-frying that resembled fishcakes but had mince meat inside. They were all the rage for a while when I was a child. Wall’s ice cream was at various times slotted in under the Birds Eye frozen foods subsidiary. The Surprise line was put under the Crest brand for some time. I am sure there were a number more brands that Unilever produced in New Zealand.

Crest Surprise quick-dried Sliced Beans box 12      copy

A Surprise dried beans box dated early-mid 1970s used to recreate my artwork for the box panels at top. Note the decimal price stamp shows it definitely dates after 1967.

a

Clarence Frank Birdseye was a taxidermist turned inventor from Brooklyn who experimented with and developed a flash-freezing system for frozen foods in the 1920s after being inspired by Inuit Eskimo methods he observed on assignment in Newfoundland. Within a few short years, after having invested a few dollars in brine, ice and a fan – he had perfected the technique through trial and error (and one bankruptcy) and sold his General Seafood Corporation business for a fortune to Goldman Sachs/Postum Cereals (which later merged to become General Foods in America).

Again, the company histories separated out between the U.S. and the U.K. – having different owners in different global territories . The latter is how the brand came to Aotearoa via British Unilever – who bought rights from America to the ‘quick freezing’ patent and Birds Eye brand in the 1930s.

Home refrigeration started to popularise in the 1930s – and gave rise to the ice cream industry catering to this phenomenon – by packing their products for the first time in card quart and pint boxes to take home for post supper treats. Frozen vegetables were a new-fangled thing in New Zealand in the late 1940s but the above groundwork had already been laid for their immediate popularity.

Woman's Weekly  1964_Part1 CREST SURPRISE PEAS copy

Advert for Surprise peas by Crest, New Zealand Woman’s Weekly, 1964. I think this is the dried version.

a

In 1947, Unilever of Britain contracted with Wattie’s to produce frozen peas, then a variety of vegetables and fruit under its Birds Eye brand – which I previously mentioned here in December 2011. Wattie’s then established a new plant at Gisborne in 1952 in order to continue accommodate this contract. Subsequently, as soon as their new processing facility opened Wattie’s followed with their own packaged peas and corn; this eventually became a huge range of frozen product that did their competition no harm in the marketplace for quite some time – for Birds Eye were around well into the 1980s before it fizzled out (the business was finally dismantled in 1984). However the brand had a longer and more popular life in Australia, where it continues to this day.

A 1956 still seems to show Birds Eye peas, raspberries and frozen fish (probably fingers, which launched in England that same year) amongst other items. According to Simplot, the current owners of the brand in Australasia – Birds Eye was not launched over the ditch until two years later in 1949 – although I think it’s clear by now that believing what a company writes on their own website about their own history is tantamount to listening to a claim from most politicians.

By the 1980s the Surprise brand had expanded to apples, peas, beans, butter beans, peas and carrots, minted peas, mixed vegetables, and chopped onions. I am sure there was more, this is just what I know of. The brand is still under Unilever and going Strong today, with four products – minted peas, garden peas and peas & corn (all in frozen and dried versions) and dried mixed vegetables ( a combo of pea, potatoes, beans and carrots). To my knowledge Wattie’s (now Heinz Wattie’s Ltd) continue their association with Unilever for production.

SURPRISE SLICED APPLES CREST FOODS LIMITED Jackson Street Petone looks to have imperial price 3 S 6 D edit copy

A Surprise dried apple box, likely dating between 1961-1966. I conject that by this time the ownership of the brand had transferred to Unilever, and product was being manufactured in their Wellington plant, hence the Jackson street, Petone address on the side.

a

However right at the end of writing I ran across a U.K. radio advert archive which lists an ad for Surprise garden peas circa 1960 – suddenly making me wonder whether they were either exported to the U.K for sale by Unilever – or simply originally a Unilever brand all along . Something wasn’t right with my story.

Further to that, In an online discussion about the Surprise brand one person remembers “…Batchelor’s “Surprise” peas . My father devised the name and designed the packaging…” I’d love to follow up on this line of inquiry but the conversation was unfortunately archived. Some further digging into Unilever history in the U.K. revealed that in the early 1940s Van den Bergh Foods/Unilever had acquired a fifty year old British company named Batchelor’s which specialised in processing peas.

Then I ran across a 1966 promotional photo in the National Library of Australia archive of a woman holding a few packets of Surprise peas – almost the same package design I’ve featured in the 1964 advert here. However the brand name was different and after a lot of squinting I realised the product was under Rosella, not Birds Eye. Unilever were successful in a takeover of Rosella in 1963 and remained owners until 2002.

With Unilever’s Surprise line in New Zealand appearing under Crest just after the acquisition of that brand, then their Surprise line in Australia appearing under Rosella just after the acquisition of that brand, I started to see a pattern. I conject that Surprise was never a Crest brand and Unilever acquired the product and technique with their purchase of Batchelor’s in the U.K. They just threw it under whatever was the most popular brand in the marketplace at the time in a corresponding country – hence it’s move to Continental when Crest was given last rites in Aotearoa.

Surprise peas - IGA Shopping Game 1969 14th anniversary - 197 Four Square  copy

 L:  Surprise dried peas box from a 1977 Four Square stores brochure.  R: Surprise frozen and dried peas packets from an IGA stores shopping-themed board game issued as a promo for the 14th anniversary of the brand in New Zealand,  in 1969. 

a

The conclusion is fairly clear that Surprise was never originally a Kiwi brand at all. The research still took me on an interesting journey, though. Although, – it seems that, despite my best efforts – this story is not quite wrapped up yet.

I’d date these particular boxes I’ve recreated at some time between 1970 and 1976 (closer to the former date) based on regular changes to the packaging, as well as being evidenced by the decimal price of 25 cents.

a

a

a
a
a
All content of Longwhitekid copyright Darian Zam © 2014. All rights reserved.

Bite Size: Frisco Candy Kitchen

In American Boss candy, Auckland confectionery companies, baker and confectioner, British Photographic Studio, Candy, Charles Edward Swales, Collins Bros, Collins' Lolly Shop, Confectioner, confectionery, Frisco Candy Kitchen, Henry Winkelmann photographer, Ice Cream, John Clemshaw Swales, Palmer's confectionery, photographer, Richard Henry Swales, Rowland Chubb photographer, Sweets, The Elite Studio on May 5, 2014 at 10.46

1 Frisco LWK copy copy1

2 Frisco Candy Kitchen Karangahape Road, Auckland edit pink copy

Karangahape Road, Auckland, by W. T.Wilson, May 1910. Frisco Candy Kitchen at right showing hoarding advertising American Boss, Swales’s speciality. Image courtesy of  Alexander Turnbull Library, ref PA5-0015.

a

A friend, knowing I am interested in such things, sent me a picture today regarding the Frisco Candy Kitchen, and asked if I knew anything about it. Yes I was familiar with it, as it appears in at least three photos taken in the early part of the Twentieth Century of the Newton, Auckland area and I had noticed it in passing. I hadn’t ever paused on it and wondered what the back story was – however I rarely encounter a dud – and yet again there is an interesting tale behind it, or at least I am actually able to find some material on something so obscure. The Frisco Candy Kitchen was on one of the corners of Pitt Street and Karangahape Road (this intersection seems to have been popular with photographers for postcard snaps), in the 1900s and 1910s and was owned by C. E. Swales. However one image, by Henry Winkelmann shows it may have been in operation into the 1920s.

3a SWALES BOSS CONFECTIONERY SWEETS ICE CREAM Thames Star, 23 October 1903, Page 3 edit copy

Swales’ Confectionery, Thames: an early mention of ice cream, and a first appearance of American Boss.  Thames Star, 23 October 1903, Page 3. Courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand.

a

Charles Edward Swales was born in New Zealand 1871 to Councillor John Clemshaw (1827-1909)  and Lucy Swales (nee Jones, 1828-1907) who had arrived on The Shalimar in 1859 and settled in Ponsonby. His father, considered a gentleman by the time he retired, began as a plumber and tinsmith in Wellesley Street, then in retirement represented Auckland city for a number of years and sat on the boards of Ponsonby Highway and Hospital Charitable Aid, the Streets Committee, the Ponsonby School Committee as well as being a trustee of the Wesleyan Church. In other words a quite prominent and respected family. They lived in Dedwood Terrace for over 45 years, being some of the oldest residents of the area (Dedwood was Ponsonby’s earlier name and I wish they had kept it; Tim Burton would move straight in). Charles’s siblings were John William (1861, a plumber and gasfitter who inherited his father’s business), Richard Henry  (known as Harry, 1863, later a well-known merchant and military tailor on Victoria Street West), Annie Maria (1865), Sarah Ann (1869), and Frederick James (1873).

3b Frisco Candy Kitchen 1919 Henry Winkelmann edit

Looking east from Pitt Street along Karangahape Road, showing Frisco Candy kitchen on right. Photo by Henry Winkelmann, 1919. Image courtesy of Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 1-W1682.

a

However as I started to follow the trail backwards I found that Swales had an earlier career as an “art photographer” first in the city’s main road, Queen Street, as a young man – at number 322 in the mid-1890s; then in Pollen Street, Thames, Coromandel soon after, probably the following year. Newspaper adverts of 1897 mention his “many years of experience at leading Auckland studios.” Between May and December of that year he closed his business, called for tenders, rebuilt his studios and re-opened. The last advert for his career behind the camera that I can find appears on the last day of August 1899, and seemingly his work in that area finished up not too long afterwards. In 1902 he married Ellen Thorburn (1879-1956).

4  F H Creamer a noted walker  Photo by  Swales New Zealand Illustrated Magazine edit copy

“F. H. Creamer, a noted walker.” New Zealand Illustrated Magazine, Volume 1, Issue 8, 1 May 1900, Page 623. The only image I could find of a photo taken by Swales. Image courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand.

aBy mid 1902 an ad appears for C.E. Swales, confectioner, in Pollen Street, offering ice cream. So his learning curve lasted no more than two and a half years at the very most. I’d be interested to know which confectioner he quickly learned his trade with, though. It is very likely he served an apprenticeship with Charles Palmer or Collins Bros also both of Pollen Street, which I previously covered here.

4a  C E Swales the Elite Studio Auckland Star, 26 February 1895, Page 8 edit copy copy

C. E. Swales’s “Elite Studio” Auckland Star, 26 February 1895, Page 8. I was wondering why this address sounded familiar; my grandfather had his factory at 323 Queen Street. Courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand.

a

I am placing bets it was Palmer that Swales studied the art of candy making with – simply because they were a much bigger and longer established business – who also advertised ice cream they were making, from at least 1891. This mention, by the way, is the fourth-earliest historical evidence I have run across of commercial ice cream making for retail in New Zealand thus far. Although admittedly, an objective look at the overall history of this genre in New Zealand has not really been focussed on by myself – just pockets here and there. It makes Swales the sixth-earliest mention. Anyway, it’s interesting to ruminate on – besides both areas being considered “creative” – what the inspiration was for the change to such a dramatically different field.

6 Frisco Candy Kitchen 1907 Radcliffe, Frederick George edit copy

Looking east along Karangahape Road, from the corner of Pitt Street, showing Frisco Candy Kitchen on right. Photo by Frederick George Radcliffe, 1907. Image courtesy of Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 7-A4724.

a

In October 1903 Swales offers “all kinds of confectionery and sweets”, as well as something called “American Boss.” The Wilson image of 1910 shows a hoarding on K Road painted with the slogan “The original American Boss” over the Frisco Candy Kitchen shop. Obviously Boss was a kind of candy as I have references to “American Boss” being sold by Waughs confectioners in the 1910s and “Boss Balls” by The Bluebird confectionery in the 1920s. However I’ve been unable to find out anything more about it, as far as a recipe or even any mention, so I am speculating this recipe was some kind of Australasian corruption of a foreign treat that was popularised down under – rather like Sally Lunns and others which were given their unique twist and name, then adopted wholeheartedly. About this time of the first American soda fountains in Aotearoa there seems to have been a trend for things Yankee.

6a  CE SWALES ART PHOTOGRAPHER Thames Star, Volume XXIX, Issue 8551, 5 January 1897, Page 4

A variety of services at Swales’s studios. Thames Star, 5 January 1897. Courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand.

a

By 1905 he seems to be back in Auckland and would have established the Frisco Candy Kitchen that year. Interestingly, he was never too far away from photography; later on the second floor above Frisco Candy Kitchen was occupied by snappers – at various times both Rowland Chubb who ran the British Photographic Studio, and Frederick Harmer ‘s Childhood Photographic studios, also known as Peter Pan Portraits, were in situ.

6b john clemshaw and Richard Henry ( Harry) Swales and Harry's shop copy lighter copy

From left: John Clemshaw Swales, Richard Henry ( Harry) Swales’s shop, and Harry Swales. Ironically I wasn’t able to find a picture of Charles Edward. Portraits from The Cyclopedia of New Zealand, 1902, courtesy of  NZETC (New Zealand Electronic Text Collection), Victoria University of Wellington Library. Middle image looking south east  from corner of Albert St down Victoria St West towards Albert Park, showing premises of R. H. Swales, tailor. Photo by Henry Winkelmann, 1907. Image courtesy of Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 1-W1441.

a

Charles and Ellen’s only known child was John Louis Swales (1910-1963). Seemingly they were prosperous from the sweets business for they owned more than one residence. An advert of 1915 offers for rent a five room house near Three Lamps (Ponsonby) and asks for applications to be made to Frisco Candy Kitchen. Two other notices mention a Charles Swales participating in bowling games in Ponsonby around this time.

8 swales photo studio Thames closes tenders reopens between March-December1897 1 copy

Swales’s Pollen Street premises closes and re-opens. Clockwise from top L: Thames Star, 31 March 1897, Page 3; 11 December 1897, Page 4; and 18 March 1897, Page 3. Courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand.

a

There are advertisements seeking staff from at least 1906 to 1915. Several of them which ran seeking “a smart young lady for the shop” were dated late 1911. That smart young lady was Phyllis Adelaide French, later the subject of a notorious case of tragic demise. She was successful in obtaining the position and worked for Swales until mid-April of the following year when she stopped turning up for work, a note being sent that she was unwell with the flu.
A few days later, she was dead – seemingly the victim of peritonitis attended to far too late to save her. This was caused by a terribly botched abortion she obtained when she became pregnant, after an affair with a married man from Christchurch – while they were both living in a boarding house in Union Street. Swales was named as a witness to appear at the inquest. You can read articles outlining in detail the court proceedings here and here. It’s an interesting look into the stigma of becoming pregnant out of wedlock and how it was dealt with in secrecy and shame, a century ago – with disastrous results. How times have changed.

smart young lady for frisco candy kitchen New Zealand Herald, 29 November 1911, Page 1 edit

 The successful applicant died while in Swales’s employ. New Zealand Herald, 29 November 1911, Page 1.Courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand.

a

It was an interesting moment when I realised that Phyllis was the very person who had filled the position being advertised earlier. Sometimes you get an objective peek in on history, and feel like you’re kind of privy to a weird sequence of events that fall like dominoes – and nobody else could have known they were going to be related.

It’s unknown when Swales finished up the Frisco Candy Kitchen. He passed away in 1935 at 64 years old.

a
a
a
All content of Longwhitekid copyright Darian Zam © 2014. All rights reserved.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 412 other followers