longwhitekid

Grocery Archaeology

In Desserts, Grocery Archaeology, Supermarket Anthropology, Wattie's on May 7, 2011 at 10.46

It’s come to a point of realization that I’m falling into a pattern. It’s taken six months of blogging with Longwhitekid that I now have seemed to have developed a clear direction – recovering and recreating graphics from long lost New Zealand grocery products. I’ve dubbed it “Supermarket Archaeology”. It wasn’t something I was really expecting to happen. I had a fairly clear modus operandi which was, initially as follows: strictly things I remembered personally, to “go with the flow” and avoid planning in advance, and most importantly – an accent on brevity so it didn’t quickly turn the project from “fun” into “commitment”. Oh well.

This week I’ve recreated a Wattie’s Junior Foods label. In fact I remember these, I and my sister were both fed them in infancy. In fact they were launched in 1958 in association with NZ Plunket.  There was a small range in brightly coloured labels, and I can recall one was a deep aqua…I guess I’ll just have to wait to find a colour magazine ad that showcases the lot one day if I am lucky – as Google is turning up nothing (as it does with so many of these products).

It took me weeks to find the right material to recreate the baby’s face. I knew I had a picture that was good kick-off material somewhere from a 1950s book of baby names but of course when I needed it, I couldn’t find it, anywhere. Most of the font was created by hand-kerning Milford and in some cases replacing entire letters (the Cs and Rs, and often the Ss are never right). They really didn’t have a great variety of fonts that they used for commercial design back then but – can I ever find a match out of 3000 I have at hand? Nope.

This was part of a collection that was originally snatched up by two or three people. It went on the market – in early 2008, just before I came on the Kiwiana scene – from an ex-marketing manager who had worked at Wattie’s through the 1950s to the 1970s. When one of the buyers decided to sell on some of their unwanted booty recently, the bidding was extremely fierce and a Wellington collector took out most of the good ones – he was prepared to pay any price it seems and pushed pretty much all of us aside for the prize pick. So I missed out on this particular item, as well as several others - assuming that nobody besides me would really be interested. So I guess my “Supermarket Archaeology” is also borne of necessity; not only a must-have I missed out on, but often couldn’t afford – the latter seems to be more often the case.

I still fail to understand how canned chocolate custard pudding can be in any way “nutritious” though. I guess it doesn’t actually claim it’s good for you…

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