longwhitekid

Gettin’ it Twisted

In Bluebird, Bluebird Foods Ltd, Fonzies, Twisties on July 2, 2011 at 10.46

I finally found this stashed away Twisties bag that I have been promising a couple of people I would post up. This dates back to 1986 and I kept it because the design was still really old-fashioned even then and I liked it and pinned it to my bedroom wall for “ideas” (I don’t know what kind of idea I was expecting or if, indeed, I ever had one).

Most people would be familiar with the advertising campaign “Life’s pretty straight without Twisties!” for this product – apparently “the number one extruded snack brand”.  Using the word “extruded” in my opinion isn’t the most marketable expression to use for your product, but anyway…they date back to 1950 when they were introduced by General foods in Australia, and Bluebird Foods Ltd  in New Zealand (I think it was still stand-alone and not part of behemoth Goodman Fielder – yet.)

With a lot of these brands there is cross-over as the markets were pretty similar and in fact, Oz being much larger they obviously had more products created there -that were in turn introduced onto the Kiwi market. A lot of things I see as memories of classic New Zealand brands – such as Twisties, Frosty Boy, Riviera’s Fags, Woolworths, Mello Yello – are actually Australian or were introduced simultaneously. It’s kind of inextricable.

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A couple of these older Twisties bags have come up for sale on Ebay down under and I’m unable to date them but I’ll guess late 1950s – early 1960s. The packaging was probably more or less identical in New Zealand so I think it’s safe to say, that’s what it looked like back then too.

An early-mid nineties example from stevepwnz‘s flickr collection:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/62629464@N07/5708441429/sizes/l/in/photostream/

This shows that the packaging has somewhat lost its old-fashioned charm by this time, which is pretty exemplary of what I’ve dubbed “the decade that style really forgot” (it’s not actually the 1970s as most people say).

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Interestingly, Twisties are produced in Italy under the brand name “Fonzies”. In the mid 1970s, General Foods and Bluebird, on the back of the success of the T.V. series “Happy Days” and the resulting 1950′s retro/ Greaser style revival that resulted – did a licensing deal with Paramount Pictures and marketed a cheesy snack product named “Fonzies”, for actor Henry Winkler’s character “The Fonz”, which was the epitome of cool to boys at that time and much impersonated.

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Inside each packet was one from a set of collectable stickers often seen on school bags and books. They apparently tasted “more like Cheetos than Twisties” according to another collector. I used to eat them but can’t remember much detail about the flavour, however I remember these snacks well from school days along with ETA Chicken Chips, and Jack’s Chip Stix, which you can see both  posts on respectively in the archives:

http://longwhitekid.wordpress.com/2011/02/12/youve-been-snackjacked/

http://longwhitekid.wordpress.com/2011/01/03/from-trashed-to-treasured/

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  1. Fonzies in New Zealand were made by AB Consolidated in Otahuhu. They were made under license to APD in Australia. APD made Smith’s Potato Crisps, Cheezels, Twisties, AB Consolidated made Aulsebrooks and Bycroft biscuits in Auckland and Christchurch, confectonery in Christchurch and Dunedin and snack foods in Auckland and Dunedin. At Otahuhu they made Smith’s Potato Crisps and Ceezels, Fonzies and Chickadees (a chicken flavoured extruded snack). I know, because I made them. I was there. Dunedin made potato crisps, and was the original factory to make them, in around 1963 to replace the biscuit department when they stopped making biscuits. The company was Mackintosh Caley Phoenix.

    • Hi Paul. thanks for that great information. We were actually having a discussion about AB Consolidated’s history elsewhere and I had figured out in Dunedin there was a basis in MCP.

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