longwhitekid

Popularity Contested

In AB Consolidated, Aulsebrook's, Ballins Breweries, board games, Bournville Cocoa, Cadbury Confectionery Ltd, Cadbury Fry Hudson, Cadbury Schweppes Hudson Ltd, Caley's chocolate, Chelsea Sugar Refinery, Coca-Cola Co., Coca-Cola Company of New Zealand, Crown Lynn, Cuesenaire rods, Doughnuts, Edmonds, Fanta soft drink, Fresca diet soft drink, Fresh-Up juices, Gregg & Co, Gregg's, Gregg's Instant Pudding, Gregg's jelly crystals, Griffin’s, Hi-C juice, Holdsons games, Jaytee Patty Pans, Kaiapoi blankets, Kelston Potteries, Leed soft drink, Mackintosh Caley Phoenix, Mackintosh Caley Phoenix (MCP), Mackintosh's, McAlpine, Milk delivery, Milkshakes, N.Z. Apple & Pear Marketing Board, New Zealand School Journal, Old Spice, Phoenix biscuits, Po Ha crackers, Ready To Read books, Rowntree's, Rowntree's Smarties, Sewing stuff, Sodastream soft drink, The Ministry of Education, Tip-Top, Topsy, Tourism art, Tourist souvenirs, Uncategorized on February 2, 2014 at 10.46

1  85   likes and 49 shares  The Farmers' children's playground, Auckland - this one taken in the 1970s.

The number one most popular image I’ve posted of all time, was this picture of the whimsical playground on top of the Farmers’ department store, which was next to the cafeteria to keep the kids occupied. It was shared around Facebook dozens of times. The recall of playing on the pedal cars and trikes – as well as who took ownership of the toadstool -really struck a cord with everyone. 

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One day not so long ago, I decided to look at the stats on my History Always Repeats page, and, out of curiosity – find out the impact what I’ve posted has had on my readership.
Certainly with this blog, I was really surprised to find that it wasn’t the short, snappy and visual bites people were reading the most – but the longest posts. Which I actually thought people would have less time and patience for…not at all, it seems.

The nature of Facebook is different; it’s pretty much throwaway in comparison. You post, mostly pictures in my case, add a few lines of text maybe, the reaction is pretty much immediate. It starts moving down the feed where it quickly disappears, basically to be forgotten.

Stats on pictures aren’t provided by Facebook -so I had to manually trawl through every single image (which is over 1500 pictures) and rank them in order of “likes” to each image from page members.
I’ve long criticised the unofficial list of Kiwiana icons, and I wrote an article on this topic for “In Search of the Vernacular” which was published last July in New Zealand by The Cultural Mapping Project. I have my own ideas about what is wrong and right in this respect, but even I don’t really know what is “popular” per se. Really,  the only way to really tell is to give over to the public and see what they have to say with their votes – that’s you, my readers and page members.

OK, so have you got your own mental picture of what you think are the most popular items that Kiwi Boomers, X and Y reminisce on? Is it full of Fred Dagg, ice cream cones, Pohutukawas, gumboots, kiwis, pavs and tikis? Well – wrong, wrong, and WRONG (for the most part).

So, below are the top fifty most popular images based on what I have posted since October 2012. The results were actually quite surprising. What was more surprising is what didn’t make it in. Where was Wattie’s, Cookie Bear, and Spaceman drinks? Didn’t score much with the punters, it seems. Forget beer, Beehive matches and those squeezy sauce bottles shaped like tomatoes. Not even close! Lamingtons? Forget it.

It’s quite interesting to see what really butters people’s proverbial scones when it comes to Kiwi nostalgia – and it’s certainly not the typical list of Buzzy Bees, kiwifruits, Tip-Tops and flip flops!
What does this selection tell us? It certainly indicates the way we view ourselves and culture and how very different it is from what we are fed about our own popular “image” as Kiwis.
I suppose a major factor in image ranking is that in the first few months I had an incredibly low level of members – I started with around 30 on the first day, and nothing happened for months. And people don’t often go back and check through old stuff.

It wasn’t until I posted the picture of the cafeteria playground at the flagship Farmers’ Store in Hobson Street, Auckland (ranked number one over all) that it started blowing up as the image went viral. Within a very short time I had suddenly reached 700 members.

Certainly I come from the point of view of an ex-designer and there’s always going to be a focus on the visually appealing in my edit – and thus what ends up in my final selection. To me it was interesting, that what people preferenced did generally have aesthetic appeal – but they weren’t really what I would have hand-picked as the most eye-popping items. In some ways it’s a bit of a motley selection (I mean, the Alf novelty ice cream? Really, people? Really).
I never know what people want to read or look at and try not to care too much about it, but maybe even if it’s subconsciously – I am starting to get a better idea of what content is desired and it’s not all about what I personally think or prefer. Should I change anything about the way I go about things? Probably not, otherwise it would just end up being the same as what everyone else is doing.

It seems clear the image we’ve had forced upon us is a rather false assumption – and the genre is far more subjective with a focus on childish comforts. So is it just a “popularity contest” after all? I have to say I disagree, announced while snugly wrapped in a cosy wool blanket, with a sweet bun, and a hot cup of Bournvita in a nightcap novelty mug.

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2  71  likes 22 shares Little Black Sambo

2. Second  most popular on the list is the classic Helen Bannerman children’s book about the tigers that turn into butter and are used to fry pancakes. This book is still in print and back on the market today, but apparently went through a period where it was banned.

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3 46 likes Ready to Read series, collection of Waterview School. Image courtesy of the Waterview Heritage Project

3. Any time I post a picture of the Ready To Read series from The Ministry of Education, including The Hungry Lambs (not pictured), it gets a very warm reception. Collection of Waterview School. Image © Carla Martell and  courtesy of the Waterview Heritage Project.

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4 44 likes Spirograph

4.  I remember this being around in the 1970s, and certainly was heavily advertised on television. But clearly at number four, much more popular than I recall. 

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5 39 Griffin's broken biscuits

5.  Now I knew this would be a hit. Who doesn’t remember and love broken biscuits? They hold fond memories for many, for various reasons. I remember cardboard boxes with plastic bags full of broken iced animals at the end of the aisles at Gubay’s, and also going with my grandmother and her fellow staff to the Hudson’s factory in Rosebank as a toddler to get tins of  chocolate cookie and confectionery seconds.

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6 36 likes Cadbury Bournvita bakelite Nightcap mug

6. Cadbury’s issued this novelty promo “Nightcap” mug for Bournvita in 1957. It’s not something I’m really familiar with – but apparently a lot of Baby Boomers are as it caused a bit of excitement to see it again. It was still featured on the Bournvita boxes well into 1967 so they must have kept making them for that long.

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8 29 New Zealand Hardie banknote for ten dollars

7.  Something seen by everyone just about every day for years – the Hardie banknote for New Zealand  ten dollars. Now obviously out of circulation and quite collectible.

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7 36  like Milk Deliver s

8. Red top, green top, silver top and juice. Don’t forget to put out your empties, and the right tokens. The days of milk home deliveries, long-lost  to deregulation – something people have a romantic yearning for as it’s just one of a few milk and milk-related entries in this list.

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9 29 likes chinese checkers  1 EDIT

9. The classic game of Chinese Checkers was found in the homes of most, although in my more recent day it looked a little bit different. I guess this one dates from the 1950s.

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10 29 gregg's lime jelly

10.  Gregg’s jellies were around from the 1920s, rivaling Edmonds “Sure To Set”  line, as well as about two hundred other brands over the decades. But it held its own in the marketplace and is still going strong today. Through the 1960s to the 1980s and beyond they issued albums to collect cards – and birds were a trademark theme of the brand. This one dates from around 1981. Image courtesy of Steve Williams collection.

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11 28 likes Topsy Ice Cream Wrapper, mid 1980s

11. Tip-Top’s classic Topsy is purported to be the company’s first novelty, named after one of the founder’s treasured pet cows. This is possible, however Choc Bombs and Eskimo Pies made their appearance in the same decade. This resonates with me because I definitely remember this wrapper well and it didn’t change much for quite a while.  Image courtesy of Steve Williams collection.

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12 26 likes Vintage New Zealand wool blankets.

12. Whenever I post pictures of blankets and labels they always rate highly. We have three blanket-related entries in this top fifty. These are now quite desirable, second hand and bidding at auction can be surprisingly competitive.

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13 26 likes The classic Kiwi cream bun

13. The classic Kiwi  cream doughnut – very different to the American donut – must be filled with cream, a small dollop of raspberry jam, and a dusting of sweet icing sugar over the top to be the real deal. We usually got these at the corner dairy along with a Zap flavoured milk for a Sunday morning treat. These ones seem to have currants in them which isn’t how, I think most people, consider a genuine one.

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14 26 likes milkshalke makers

14. All the ingredients from the milk bar or dairy of yesteryear that you need to make a refreshing and frothy milkshake. It makes me want a cold spearmint one from Uncle’s right now!

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15 26 likes Gregg’s instant pudding

15. The prize for earliest instant milk puddings probably goes to W. F. Tucker’s brand “Sunshine” in the 1910s. It took Gregg’s a good twenty years after that to get their version on the shelves. However, Gregg’s instant pudding is still around today, and Sunshine is long gone! These boxes from a 1972 advert.

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16 25 The camp, the cook, and the cabbage, circa 1890s.

16. This is one of the “go figure” entries that  I guess really appealed to people. I have to admit, it’s one of my very favourites too. “The camp, the cook and the cabbage, Wairarapa”. Image courtesy of the Alexander Turnbull Library Manuscripts and Pictorial collection,  Ref  1/2-022483-F .

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17   25 likes Poha Fire Crackers label, image courtesy of Owain Morris Collection

17. The most popular item before and on Guy Fawkes night, was traditionally these crackers, which were available for a few cents at local dairies (milk bars).  The meaner kids would throw them at others to frighten them after school.  Image courtesy of Owain Morris collection.

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18 18 23 likes Leed lemonade by the Coca-Cola Company of New Zealand, early 1970s

18. Testament to its popularity, Leed, by the Coca-Cola Co., appears in this list twice. Ironically  their namesake drink didn’t even rank in the top 100 – but Fanta – also by this company – does as well.

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19  19 23 likes Gregg Pudding late 1970s-early 1980s

19. Appearing twice in this top fifty list means the humble pud from Gregg’s is something held dear by Kiwis. Personally I don’t get it. This range from the late 1970s, which by this time had ten flavours. I remember the orange one was particularly horrid. And I don’t much like the look of this one either. Oh well, no accounting for taste. 

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20 23 likes Crown Lynn Book Cover - Valerie Ringer Monk

20. More lurid patterns stick out for me than soft, tasteful Martha Stewart-type pastels as pictured here. Crown Lynn has come a long way since Rice Owen Clark wrapped logs in clay and burned them to fire his own pipes in Hobsonville, Auckland way back in the 1850s, then started filling orders for neighbours who liked what they saw. The rest is history. Image courtesy of Valerie Monk and  Penguin Books.

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21 22 likes the sound of the milk truck and the rattle of coins in the bottle elizabethjconz

21. Milk again, this time bottles in the classic plasticized wire holder that would nestle six in it – whether full or empty. Image courtesy of and © Elizabeth J Photography http://www.elizabethj.co.nza

22 22 likes Fanta bottles with original contents 1 EDIT copy

22. Full, unopened Fanta bottles of the 1970s.  Maybe people wouldn’t be so keen on it if they knew it had literally been invented for the Nazis by Coca-Cola. Don’t believe me? Look it up.

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23 21 likes Auckland Zoo Dragon 1970s

23. The Auckland Zoo’s big concrete dragon has been around since I was little, and who knows how long before that. There’s a photo of me somewhere sitting on one of the toadstools they used to have nearby, in an orange, green and purple crochet jumpsuit. You can’t get more Seventies than that. 

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24 21 Kelston Potteries Daisydesign teacup and plate, with Alfred Meakin mustard  saucer late 1960s to early 1970s

24. This Kelston Potteries (a subsidiary of Crown Lynn, this makes it the second entry) Daisy design teacup and plate, with  an Alfred Meakin “Mustard” design  saucer dates from the late 1960s to early 1970s.

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25 21 Inside Mum's sewing kit

25. Stuffed with Tui rick-rack, Sylko or Dewey wood reels, Dorcas pins, and random beads, hat pins and ribbons – the classic contents of a sewing kit or drawer, often stashed in one of those old wood and cast iron Singer sewing machine stands, is always a big hit with my readers. Image courtesy of and  ©  Bronwyn Lloyd  at Mosehouse Studio.

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26  19 likes Old Spice aftershave bottle, 1970s-1980s

26. Old Spice by Shulton Ltd appeared on the market as an aftershave in the Sixties – and by the 1970s  the range had extended to Original, Lime and Burley each with shaving sticks and several types of deodorants. I remember my father wearing this when I was a child and his whole morning “ritual” with the aftershave, cuff-links and knotting the tie – so I can understand why it brings back fond memories for so many. It pretty much had the market locked up for a long time but I  think it lost it’s monopolyin the 1980s with the advent of designer fragrances flooding the market fell out of favour.

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27 19 likes A variety of labels from wool blankets

27. Our second blanket entry is a collage of labels from various brands. I guess they bring back comforting memories for people in a number of ways – cosy winter nights, drowsily listening to parents talk, in another room, the sound of late night TV shows in the distance, sleepovers, visiting relatives, holidays, and other special occasions. It’s no surprise they resonate so much.

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28  19 Have a Coke - Kia Ora was painted between 1943 and 1945 for the Coca-Cola Company of New Zealand

28. Much of the Coke advertising was always a run-on off from American campaigns – but this one named  “Have a Coke – Kia Ora” – was a Kiwi creation and specifically painted between 1943-1945  for the Coca-Cola Company of New Zealand, not long after the product went domestic.a

29 18 likes Toltoys Bug Catcher, 1970s

29. Along with other popular toys, just about everyone had one of these bug catchers in the 1970s. The dying days of manual fun. Not long after this small hand-held consoles like Donkey Kong were the rage and it was imperative to have one. That was the beginning of the end as toys entered the digital age, and imagination started to atrophy.

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30  18 likes School Journal Album

30. First the School Journal was wrapping up. Then maybe it wasn’t. Now I’m not sure what’s true. It seems like it is done though,  and state-owned Learning Media is closing its doors, bringing to the end possibly the longest-running magazine in Kiwi history – having had it’s first issue published in 1907, the first instance that any kind of school book was published domestically. Cover artwork by Jill McDonald, image courtesy of the Auckland Museum Collection

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31 18 likes Rowntrees Smarties box, mid 1970s.

31. Rowntree’s Smarties box, mid 1970s. Rowntree’s products were produced under licence first by Mackintosh Caley Phoenix (MCP) whose Dunedin factory as acquired along with the Bycroft business in 1961 and became known as AB Consolidated  -until it wound down in the late Seventies, and reverted to Aulsebrook’s. Image courtesy of Steve Williams collection.

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32 18 likes Leed bottle, unopened and with original contents, late 1970s-early 1980s

32. Leed, a softly lemon-flavoured fizzy drink that arrived on the scene in the 1970s to great success, and was phased out in 1984 to be replaced by the more American-style Sprite. The second entry in this top fifty list for this drink, that has proven to be very popular even in retrospect – and is still pined over to this day.

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33 18 likes kitchen stuff

33. The classic line-up from the New Zealand kitchen cupboard for baking: Cadbury’s Bournville cocoa powder, golden syrup from CSR, cake cups from Jaytee, and good old Edmonds “Sure To Rise” baking powder which has been around since 1879 and is still one of the few most successful brands today (although the range is now in the dozens of products).

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34 18 likes cuisinere rods

34. Cuesenaire rods were invented in the early 1950s in Belgium – it’s not a Kiwi creation. They were meant to help educate in matters of elementary maths using different lengths and colours from one centimetre (white) to ten (orange). Fun to play with, but the plastic material they were made from had a really nasty smell I recall. Kind of like crayons, rotten oranges and shoe polish. Gag!

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35 17 Visit New Zealand, Maori Wonderland, travel Poster, circa 1930s

35. A lovely Maori maiden features in this travel Poster, circa 1930s, artist unknown. This is what I was talking about, when I’ve come to understand what people want. To me this is predictable. It’s a nice piece, and as exemplified in it’s ranking it has popular appeal, but generally I try to stay away from showcasing this stuff as I feel it’s territory that has been well and truly gone over a number of times by others. To the detriment of other areas of New Zealand design which have in my opinion been neglected. 

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36 17 likes Sodastream bottles from the early 1980s

36. SodaStream bottles from a plastic machine that made soft drinks at home. The carbonated bullets and syrups came separately, and no water filters back then – it was filled up straight from the taps. We used to sip the highly sugary cordial straight out of the bottles, which when I think of now is disgusting. Actually, it was disgusting, then, too!

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37 17 likes Maori souvenir doll

37. There were a variety of these souvenir Maori dolls over the years, all slightly differing and often seen in glass china cabinets along with other tacky but sentimental knick-knacks. Now often seen in junk shops and garage sales instead, they still have sentimental appeal but just not in today’s home, apparently.

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38 17 likes Classic Aeroplanes, often seen in the five, ten or twenty cent mixture bag

38. Jet Planes were popularised by Griffin’s, but soon became generic in those little glass dairy compartments along with cent lollies, wine gums and pineapple lumps. Griffin’s was established  in the 1880s  with biscuits, and in 1885 started offering confectionery. It survived several ownership changes through the Nineties and Noughties and is still going strong today.

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39 17 likes BANANA BASKET - Plastic Coated Woven Cane EDIT

39. “Banana Baskets” were around in the 1950s-1960s,  useful to hold a variety of goods for those smaller trips to the corner store, when something like this would suffice. In time they just weren’t in any way big enough to cope with the volume of goods bought for consumption from those new-fangled supermarkets – and were pretty much retired by the 1970s. I think a lot of them ended up as wool baskets. Or hanging in the garage with trowels and seeds in them.

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40 17 likes A variety of steel soft drink and juice cans, of the early 1980s

40. A variety of late 1970s steel cans – Long-running Ballins (established in Auckland prior to 1876, no matter what the official company history says about Christchurch). Like American imports such as Tab, Fresca was one of the early, popular diet drinks that was introduced onto the New Zealand market. Leed we have covered, and Fresh-Up was still a small range of three or four varieties at this time but exploded into quite a large line by the mid 1980s. Hi-C juice, I don’t think lasted very long. 

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41 17 Kaiapoi blanket label

41. The classic Kaiapoi blanket’s label.  Think of all the hours you spent examining them as you tried to fall asleep, or waited for everyone else to wake up. They are pretty much ingrained in all of our memories indelibly.

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42  16 likes The pocket version of Simon was issued in New Zealand by Milton Bradley in 1983.

42. Simon Says was a futuristic (well, it was then) electronic game that was heavily advertised on the box. It was extremely popular for a short time with it’s disco dance floor slash Buck Rogers inspired light-up panels, honks and bleeps. They now sell for a lot in working order. This is an even rarer pocket version. It sold on Trade Me for two or three hundred dollars.

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43 16 LIKES jump suits for the 1974 Commonwealth Games held in New Zealand

43. New Zealand’s snazzy uniform for the  Commonwealth Games held in our country in 1974. I think they got high jump confused with high pants.

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44 16 like Air New Zealand plastic Tiki, a common promo gift to all passengers from circa 1970

44. Ah, the complimentary plastic tiki once gifted to every passenger from Air New Zealand. Once fairly common, these are now kind of collectible. I think this one is from the 1970s.

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45 15 likes Tip-Top's Alf novelty ice cream box front, based on the wildly popular TV series of course.Issued around 1988

45. Was ALF really that popular? For those that don’t know, it was a TV series that ran until  from 1986-1990 about an extraterrestrial creature that crash-lands from space into a suburban family’s garage. This was a period when Tip-Top were releasing fairly sophisticated licensed novelties like Pink Panther and Mickey Mouse, amongst some. Image courtesy of Steve Williams collection.

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46 15 likes The Longest Drink In Town

46. Once handed to you at every takeaway across the land – there has been a  retro revival of this ubiquitous milkshake cup design of the 1970s-1980s  recently – thanks to renewed recognition of it’s cool and unique design. It can now be found on everything from tee shirts to plastic tumbler sets and cushions (and back in a lot of takeaways of course). Image courtesy of  and © Lucinda McConnon on Flickr.  

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47 15 likes Griffin's Sampler biscuit tin, circa late 1970s-early 1980s

47. Griffin’s biscuit samplers – ubiquitous at Christmas with their pink iced wafers and Cameo Cremes through the 1970s and 1980s. This brand  has remained one of the most successful in the country for more than 130 years for their biscuits and also classic confectioneries such as Deck, Minties, Sparkles, Pebbles and Snifters  among some (none of which, amazingly, made it onto the list…and Jaffas just missed out). This tin from the mid-late Eighties.

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48  15 likes Fresh-Up large apple juice and orange tin, late 1970s

48. A bulk size Fresh-Up can of the late 1970s. The drink was introduced in 1961 by the Apple and Pear Marketing board in two varieties of juice to immediate success and remained a popular brand over the decades, branching out into canned fruit, pulps, and pie fillings.

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49 likes A really nice pair of jugs

49. The classic McAlpine jug which was a promotional giveaway in the 1950s with refrigerators of the same name. Now highly collectible, they can sell into the hundreds depending on colour, like this rarer green example. I think the popularity of this image had more to do with the subtitle I gave it – ” showing you my lovely pair of jugs”.

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50  likes  Holdson's Tiddly Winks

50. And finally, the classic Tiddly Winks from Holden – an entertainment staple of every games cupboard  at the batch or for rainy days.

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

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  1. Thanks for this post. Nice to see some of my fav pics all in one article.

  2. Thanks mate – so many memories came flooding back

  3. I came for the pedal car pic, then I saw the dragon pic. I think that might be me and my little sister behind the spikes on the back.

  4. Smarties were always made in the Christchurch factory of AB Consolidated. I have a pic from the AB Newsletter. In the late 70,s they also made Bonkers (think M&M peanut).

  5. I think I vaguely remember Bonkers.

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