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Archive for the ‘Peter Pan ice cream’ Category

Unblemished Record: The Flawless Reign of Bernard Roundhill

In Air New Zealand, Alberto Vargas, Bernard Roundhill, Bixies, Blue Bonnet, Blue Bonnet Jams, board games, Bond & Bond, Butland Industries, C.L. Innes & Co. Ltd, Cadbury Fry Hudson, Cadbury's, Cereal Foods (N.Z.) Ltd, Champ pet food, Cheesecake art, Choysa Tea, commercial artist, Coulls Somerville Wilkie, Craig's canned foods, Craig's Jams, Crest Fine Foods, DB Lager, Diamond cereals, Diamond Pasta, Dolphin swinmsuits, Dominion Breweries, Duval Dimwit, Edmonds, Foodstuffs (NZ) Ltd, Four Square, Four Square Supermarkets, George Petty, Goldpack dried fruits, Goldpack Products, Holdsons games, Illustrators, Innes soft drinks and cordials, Irvine & Stevenson, J.R. Butland, Jason Products, Judith Ann Field, Ken Chapman designer, Kia-Ora jams, Lincoln Games, Little Chief socks, Ltd. calendars, Mabel Rollins Harris artist, McKenzies stores, Montana Wines, New Zealand Home Journal, Norman Rockwell, O-Tis oatmeal, Oak, Peter Pan ice cream, Peter the Pilot, Pin ups, Qantas Airways, RNZAF, Robinson's, Royal New Zealand Air Force, Sanitarium Health Foods, Scientology, Skippy the dog, Speights beer, St. George, Swiss Maid dairy products, Teachatot, TEAL Airways, The Mirror magazine, Thompson & Hill, Timaru Milling Co, Tiny & Droop, Wattie's, White's Aviation, Whittome & Stevenson, Winstone Limited, Wyona canned foods, Yates seeds on December 2, 2013 at 10.46

Diamond O-Tis by Timaru Milling back of Peter The Pilot on Active Service cereal card Album 1941 Bernard Roundhill BACK EDIT copy

An advertisement for Diamond O-Tis, by Timaru Milling Co., from the back of the “Peter The Pilot on Active Service” cereal card album, issued 1941. Designed and printed at Coulls Somerville Wilkie, Dunedin. Image courtesy of Dave Homewood, from Wings Over Cambridge http://www.cambridgeairforce.org.nz/

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Bernard Roundhill was probably Aotearoa’s most successful commercial artist, and certainly the most feted, in retrospect. He has come to be known as the “King of the Airbrush.” That’s a fair moniker; he was a pioneer and pretty much master of the technique in New Zealand. He’s also been described as “the founding father of commercial art”.
This a bit cheeky as he was not – that phrase indicates he was the first and possibly also suggests he was the best. Neither of these things are particularly true. All you have to think of is Joseph Bruno Moran, for instance, and a list of others that came before him and which no doubt he was beholden to. There’s no question he was easily and heavily influenced by others and ergo, indebted to those that were successfully working previously.

Portrait of Bernie Roundhill holding a book titled Information Circular NLNZ collection Nov 1945 Ref WA-00758-G Photograph  by Whites Aviation

Portrait of Bernie Roundhill by White’s Aviation, late 1945, holding a book titled “Information Circular”, which probably has one of his cover designs. NLNZ collection, Ref WA-00758-G

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Born in 1911, Hull, Yorkshire, England to John William and Mabel nee Tate – Bernie, as he was known to most, had two older brothers Kenneth Spencer and Maurice William, one older sister Mabel who was born 1908 in New Zealand, and two younger brothers.
 

Auckland in Fifty Years 1956 Bernard Roundhill  for Winstones Te Papa collection  copy

“Auckland In The Year 2000″, artwork for Winstone’s promotional book centrefold, 1956, is Roundhill’s most famous illustration. Image courtesy of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Reg: CA000659/001/0001

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John William Roundhill (b.1887), having also hailed from Hull, had immigrated to New Zealand in 1903 with his brother Alfred. They both worked as labourers in the Timaru, Canterbury area. He met Mabel Tate there whom he married in March 1905. Alfred met Mary Jane Dukes and married her also in Timaru, 1905.

Dolphin swimsuits illustration by Bernard Roundhill for Whites Aviation Ltd Ref WA-03719-F Alexander Turnbull Library EDIT

Dolphin swimsuits advertisement for Whites Aviation Ltd, 1950. Image courtesy of  Alexander Turnbull Library, Ref WA-03719-F 

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At some point between 1908 and 1911 the Roundhills returned to Britain, where Bernard was born. The family left England again in 1912 – for good this time. His brother Charles came into the world just before they returned to New Zealand. Many sources repeat information from others ad hoc without checking, and quote Bernard as being three years old on arrival; this is incorrect.

Edmonds Advertising Framed palsop 1 Bernard roundhill perhaps EDIT cfurther

Double page spread advert from an unknown publication, early 1950s. It may be from an Aunt Daisy cookbook but nobody has yet been able to identify it.

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They settled in Gleniti, Timaru at first, and then later in the 1910s moved to Fairlie, South Canterbury. A younger brother , George, was born in 1917. By this time a young Bernard was already obsessively drawing.
One of the stories repeated that Bernard allegedly told was of around this time, seeing the first plane in New Zealand fly over, and chasing it across the fields with 25 shillings given to him by his father to beg the pilot to take him up – thus beginning his life-long obsession with all things aviation and space orientated and the sense of freedom that entailed. How fanciful this tale may be is worth consideration given that it was not until 1920 the first flight in Aotearoa flew across Cook Strait. Only the third flight in New Zealand the following year by Bert Mercer that was in the vicinity, when he flew from Invercargill to Auckland.

Bernard Roundhill Painting of a Baby Dog & Slipper for magazine cover 1950 EDIT

Painting of “Baby, Dog & Slipper” for a magazine cover, 1950. Image courtesy of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Reg: CA000660/001/0003.

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Roundhill studied architectural drafting by correspondence, in the late 1920s. Bernard was also a cabinet maker and learned the trade from his father – known as a perfectionist, as was apparently his spouse. This obviously had an impact on a formative Bernard and influenced his work practice.

Innes Cordial labels by Bernard Roundhill Te Papa copy

Innes cordial labels for C.L. Innes & Co. Ltd: from left – Reg: CA000680/001/0015 produced 1956, Reg:CA000680/001/0024 produced mid-late 1950s, and Reg:CA000680/001/0023, produced mid-late 1950s. Images courtesy of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

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He then moved to Timaru around 1931 where he got his foot in the door of commercial art,  trying his hand professionally at window display material – designing signs, price tags and jewellers’ cards for various businesses. During this period of the lean depression years he also created paintings on material to earn money, daubing demons and heroes on velvet cushion covers and firescreens to earn a meagre living; all the items being dispersed by two salesman friends.

Bernard Roundhill art - OAK WATTIE'S WYONA ROBINSON'S HOLDSON ST GEORGE PETER PAN BLUE BONNET SWISS MAID WONDER SET HAIRSPRAY Te Papa Collection between 1961-1977

A selection of Roundhill Studio designs for various companies. Although this photo looks like it dates from the late 1950s, it was actually taken of contemporary products sometime between 1971-1976. Image courtesy of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Reg: CA000672/003/0002

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This followed a move to Dunedin where work was still thin on the ground, and at first and he would accept anything going – recalling one job akin to performance art where he painted on the velvet dresses of live models behind the display glass of a store in The Octagon. This led to some textile design work creating floral patterns.

Bernard Roundhill, Fissionable material. Framed calendar print, 1950s Dunbar Sloane

“Fissionable Material”,  framed calendar print, 1950s, likely commissioned by L. R. Allen & Co., Ltd. Image courtesy of Dunbar Sloane Auctioneers.

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However it was not long before he started to become successful. By 1933 he began working as chief designer for both confectioners Cadbury Fry Hudson and publishers Coulls Somerville Wilkie in Dunedin, who shared his much-in-demand services, split morning and afternoon. It was here working for the latter he created some of his most well-known work – the “Peter the Pilot” character for Timaru Milling Co ‘s O-Tis breakfast cereal, doing a number of adverts, packaging items, album covers, trade cards, and other merchandise; records state from 1939 to 1954. Although, Peter the Pilot had already been issued as an album by 1938, and he continued to work for this company through to at least the early 1970s.

Bernard Roundill for Winstone   from Peter Alsop book sampler CROP

Original artwork for Willy, Lofty, Tiny and Droop: concreting and drain-laying, illustration for Winstone’s promotional book, 1956. Image courtesy of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Reg: CA000659/002/0005

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About this time, Roundhill discovered the airbrush art technique after reading articles about American and German commercial art in a magazine, and inspired by this idea he developed it for his own work, purchasing an Aerograph with a hand-pump compressor, even constructing his own equipment and customising the process in order to create the smooth, graduated and mechanical effects he wanted to achieve. By his own estimation it took around seven years of long work days to learn the craft thoroughly enough to be comparable to the commercial artists he admired – whose work filled magazines like Popular Mechanics.

CHAMP - CHAMP PET FOOD COMPANY - Skippy The Dog J R BUTLAND (dog food and cat food) 1950s EDIT copy 1

Champ dog food can label, featuring Skippy the dog, for J.R. Butland, late 1950s. Private collection 

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In 1935 he married his first wife Eileen Grace Morey in Dunedin. In 1938 they were living at 20 Cranley Street, Dunedin Central, – but then the same year they picked up and relocated with Bernard’s parents at 11 Littlebourne Crescent. Just to add to a crowded situation, Bernard’s brother Kenneth, a carpenter, was also living at the family home (his father John William was also now working as a carpenter). At this time Roundhill worked on the 1939-1940 Centennial Exhibition, as well as for Wattie’s (canned foods) and Speights (beer).

Choysa Tea for Bond & Bond 1950 Bernard Roundhill - Art New Zealand edit

Choysa Tea advertisement,  for Bond & Bond, 1950.

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This move may have had something to do with Bernard commencing military service that year – as a draftsman in the intelligence office of the 8th Brigade, mainly drawing maps. Leigh-Ellen Roundhill, Bernard’s daughter, is now an artist herself working on the Gold Coast in Australia – “Like so many other men, he did not speak of his war years. What I do know is that he was in the Air Force and did the Bombsight surveying (a device used by aircraft to accurately drop bombs, Bombsights were a feature of most aircraft from WW I onwards). Then his commanding officer would keep him back in Wellington to do map work. His work was very hush-hush and I was told he was part of the Secret Service. “

Crest - Bartlett Pears label  - Mike Davidson EDIT

Crest Bartlett pears can label, for J.R. Butland, late 1950s. Image courtesy of Mike Davidson collection

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In 1942 he moved over to the Royal New Zealand Air Force and worked for the Government architect’s office. All seriousness and secret business aside, Roundhill developed “Wing Commander Duval Dimwit” for their instruction manuals during this time to bring “a little humour into them” in the vein of the RAF’s Pilot Officer Prune – and also did brochure covers and pin-up art for aircraft noses, basically whatever was required or desired.

Innes Lemonade Bernard Roundhill 1950-1951 CROP 1

The Innes Lemonade girl. Poster artwork for C.L. Innes & Co. Ltd., 1950-1951. Image courtesy of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Reg: CA000672/001/0014

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It is said he moved to Auckland in 1939 although this cannot be true since his second wedding was in Otago – it wasn’t that long before the marriage with Eileen foundered and Roundhill had met someone else. I think biographers are confused in regards to Bernard’s service in which he was stationed in both Auckland and Wellington during those years, but not permanently. Eileen and Bernard begun divorce proceedings in late 1943. Still in Dunedin, he married his second wife Olive Ella Tasker, whom he had met in Wellington in 1944 whilst still with Eileen.

CREST tomato juice label copy

Crest tomato juice can label, for J.R. Butland, late 1950s. Private collection 

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In the process of research, I trawled through five hundred or more newspaper articles which ended up being mainly of various seemingly unrelated Roundhills competing in sports tournaments. There were adverts for a Miss M. Roundhill’s dress-making studio in the late 1930s-early 1940s in Lower Hutt (Alfred, Mary Jane and daughter Mary had moved there in the late 1920s). But there was hardly a thing of note – apart from his and Eileen ‘s divorce noted in an article unflatteringly entitled “Unhappy Marriages”.

design for Home Loan Poster Education 1960s Bernard Roundhill Te Papa collection crop

One of three designs commissioned by a home loan company, early 1960s. Image courtesy of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Reg: CA000662/002/0007

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So where was the scandal? That was it, I’m afraid – three wives and only one dissolution. The rest of the time it was clearly nose to the grindstone giving a glossy finish to plums on can labels – if any company wanted plump berries and healthful, fresh-looking vegies, or hi-tech planes and spacecraft from another world – Roundhill was the go-to guy for quite a stretch. Leigh-Ellen recalls Bernard was a very keen gardener, landscaping the family home and “grew wonderful vegetables, as well as planting many fruit trees which I used to climb”. No doubt the bounty from this was inspiration for his illustration work.

Four Square - fine things of the future - colouring book 1 brentzconz EDIT

Colouring book cover designed for Foodstuffs (NZ) Ltd’s Four Square stores, 1954. Private collection.

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Roundhill does not appear in the electoral roll in Auckland until 1946, so he and Olive must have made their move in 1945. During this period came a stint at an advertising agency studio; but it wasn’t long before he set up a freelance studio in Commerce Street. The couple resided in Dedwood Terrace, Ponsonby until the late 1940s to very early 1950s – when they moved to 1 Ranier Street, Ellerslie.

Four Square advertising picture - her list says butcher baker four square Likely Bernard Roundhill EDIT further final

 “A Treat in Store”, image possibly from a calendar, designed for Foodstuffs (NZ) Ltd’s Four Square stores, late 1940s-early 1950s. Private collection.

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By 1947 He was airbrushing ink and gouache with an air compressor and adding watercolour brushwork by hand on top to create illustrations with a highly finished look that nobody else was achieving. In “A Treat In Store” A girl accompanied by her spaniel and a trolley full of products (such as Bird’s Custard) in tow, is about to enter a Four Square corner store holding a shopping list. It is so obviously Roundhill work done for Foodstuffs New Zealand Ltd (Four Square and Pam’s), and is very reminiscent of his other softly-hued cheesecake work like “Fissionable Material”.

Four Square Store cover of puzzle  envelope 1950s 1949-1950 likely Bernard Roundhill EDIT

Promotional puzzle showing many of Four Square’s line of products. Dates for this item vary greatly from 1942 to 1959 – but it was actually issued in 1949-1950. Image courtesy of the Alexander Turnbull Manuscripts and Pictorial collection. Ref: Eph-F-GAMES-1950s-05-cover

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His pastel period of the late 1940s and early 1950s was all pinks, mints and aquas – and took a queue from the saccharine, romantic stylings of the very popular 1930s American calendar artist Mabel Rollins Harris’s idyllic works of children and glamour pin-ups. Even so the earlier work, such as his Peter the Pilot items, was markedly awkward and clunky in comparison to the later slick illustrations that became his trademark . Even further down the line when he’d really hit his stride, it was very hit and miss – there was often something a little wooden, and slightly distorted-looking about his renderings of people unless cropped close in a frame or off to the side to mask it. They were mostly neither graceful or believable; it was almost as if finish upstaged focus on form. Nevertheless, this work was still popular with clients – but let’s face it – still objects were his forte. Tomatoes and beans did not have to kick a ball or unfurl a sail.

Goldpack Apple Slices copy on the shelves in 1960 - Innes  Lemon Squash Cordial label mid 1950s copy

left: Innes cordial label, late 1950s, Image courtesy of Mike Davidson collection. Right: Goldpack dried apple box, late 1950s, private collection.

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From here he segued into calendar pin-up work of the early 1950s which he excelled at, probably because they were quite still and posed. Heavy influences are obvious on Roundhill’s cheesecake work from Alberto Vargas, George Petty, and the art direction of Esquire Magazine. They were created for Auckland calendar company L. R. Allen & Co Ltd. Auckland (which is still operating today), and some were used for W.D. & H.O. Wills (cigarettes).

Kauri Museum - Roundhill Peter the Pilot album 1939 -  Royal New Zealand Air Force display Rongotai Cover 1938

Right: Peter the Pilot’s “Century of Progress” album 1939. Image courtesy of The Kauri Museum collection, Matakohe. Left: Royal New Zealand Air Force, Rongotai display, souvenir booklet cover, 1938. The date begs the question as to whether Roundhill could have done this given he did not commence working with the RNZAF until the following year. Image courtesy of  Alexander Turnbull Library, who also question whether it’s authored by him. Ref: Eph-B-AIRFORCE-1938-01-front 

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Roundhill worked for many years as a freelance artist and purportedly established the Roundhill Studios, a large, stylish deco-style building – in Auckland in 1974 according to one of a few short articles that have been written over the recent years. Although the electoral rolls always give the address as Onehunga, it was actually in Ellerslie – at the same address as their home. Then another source describes his Ellerslie studio as “pre- supermarket days”- so 1950s.

Innes Tartan fruit cordials 1956 Te Papa edit

Innes Cordials packaging, for C.L. Innes & Co. Ltd., 1956. Image courtesy of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Reg: ACA000672/003/0007.

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There were two children of the union with Olive, previously mentioned daughter Leigh-Ellen – and also Dean Bernard Roundhill – who born in 1953. Leigh-Ellen says “It is possible the studio became registered as an Enterprise in the 1970s – but was indeed up and running by 1958. I remember a great deal of the studio as it was a big part of my life; this is where I grew up. My first recall is during the construction of the studio in 1957. It was attached to the family home in Ellerslie. Still only crawling, I climbed over all the building materials being used – only to be rescued by Bernard who was two thirds up a two storey ladder at the time.

Lincoln Electric Race Track box by Bernard Roundhill EDIT

Lincoln Electric Race Track box, 1950s-1960s, image courtesy of Clayton Blackwood collection.

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The studio was part of my play ground; and I wandered fairly freely in and out, watching my father and all the other artist staff work. I studied Bernard doing his airbrushing – no questions (to be) asked, so I was very still and silent as I observed. I learned a lot from watching them all, taking up art myself eventually. I recall him doing the beautiful fruit and flower labelling for Wattie’s and Yates, and various jam brands as well. And of course his Vargas lookalikes, which hung on the back walls of the studio.”

Little Chief Socks Bernard Roundhill 1949 Te Papa collection

Design for Little Chief Children’s Sox packaging, 1949. Image courtesy of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Reg: CA000662/002/0003

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As far as canned (and boxed) fruit and vegetable products, Roundhill was known to have worked on label illustrations for Wattie’s and Wyona (General Foods), Crest (Butland), OAK (Thompson and Hills), St. George (Irvine and Stevenson), and Kia-Ora (Whittome and Stevenson) amongst others from the late 1950s through to at least the early 1970s. He had a fairly distinct style and his work was much more polished than other illustrators due to his technique. He was probably responsible for the majority of these designs in the marketplace for at least a couple of decades. As well as can labels, the studio was producing designs for a wide range of products from puzzles, mobiles, and calendars to wrapping paper, chocolate boxes, magazine covers, stationery, food packaging, and board games.

Modern Aircraft Album  CEREAL FOODS (NZ) WEETIES VITA-BRITS KORNIES  RICE FLAKES1950S EDIT copy

Wonder Book of Modern Aircraft Album, issued by Cereal Foods (N.Z.) Ltd., around the mid 1940s. Private collection

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Clients of this period included Little Chief (children’s socks), Winstone’s Limited (building materials), seed packets for Yates and McKenzie’s Stores, and The Mirror magazine. He worked on Butland Industries’ Goldpack brand, as well as their fictional home economics rep Judith Ann Field, and mascot character Skippy the terrier for Champ dog food. Holdson, Lincoln, and Philmar (board games and toys), New Zealand Home Journal, Diamond cereals and pasta (Timaru Milling Company Ltd), The New Zealand Ministry of Tourism, Ballet Russe (makeup), DB Lager (Dominion Breweries Ltd), Innes (soft drinks and cordials), Bond & Bond Ltd (Choysa Tea), Dolphin (swimwear), Edmonds, and aforementioned Foodstuffs NZ Ltd brands. I am sure this is just a small sampling of companies he completed work for.
 

Oak - Orange Marmalade- Thompson and Hills - Mike Davidson - prob early 1960s prob Roundhill artwork

OAK orange marmalade can label, for Thompson & Hills Ltd., probably early 1960s. Image courtesy of Mike Davidson collection.

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Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners NZ Conference Chch Nov-Dec 1916 - Roundhill in it prob John William EDIT copy

Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners Conference, Christchurch, 1916. There is a Roundhill specified in the group, probably Bernard’s father John William – I am guessing middle of back row based on physical appearance. Image courtesy of Alexander Turnbull Library, Ref: PAColl-D-0423.

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However as his work progressed through the 1950s and the 1960s, the crafting of it became extraordinarily precise. The highly polished shapes and forms comprising his work were solid, smooth and soft cubist; reminiscent of Tamara de Lempicka’s celebrated Art Deco era portraits of European café society. The portfolio of images he created for Winstone, featuring the characters Willy, Lofty, Tiny & Droop are exemplary of this period.

Pin Ups - Bernard Roundhill copy

Left: “I Haven’t Got Much On Today”, 1950, Image courtesy of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Reg: CA000661/001/0006. Right: “Forgotten Something, Honey?” 1950-1951, Image courtesy of alisonmc on Flickr. Both likely calendar prints commissioned by L. R. Allen & Co., Ltd.

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In 1956 he designed his most famous illustration, the one that many people are familiar with – “Auckland in the Year 2000″ – for Winstone’s, featuring streamlined, high tech craft whizzing between futuristic buildings of downtown Auckland, a feat of swooping late-Deco inspired line work exquisitely rendered to finished perfection with the airbrush by Roundhill. Interestingly, the illustration he is celebrated for was completely his own concept and creation, given carte blanche by the client to do whatever he liked to fill a double-page spread.

Rangitoto - Spaceport II - Auckland 2500 - The Ambassadors concepted 1960 completed early 1990s  Bernard Roundhill  Te Papa collection  copy

“The Ambassadors, Rangitoto Spaceport 11, Auckland in the Year 2500.” Begun in 1960, finished between 1990-1994. Image courtesy of Museum of New Zealand Te
Papa Tongarewa, Reg: CA000659/001/0002

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Also the influence of his early Scientology days, shine through in his work – in particular “The Ambassadors”, featuring space craft zooming over a futuristic Auckland harbour with Rangitoto looming in the background. The intergalactic pulp science fiction concepts, masquerading as religious tenets – of fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard who founded the movement – are obvious even down to the weird logo on the ship’s sail like a mutated cross between the Thetan and Illuminati symbols. This illustration somewhat mirrors the fable that Xenu brought billions of people to Earth in spacecraft resembling futuristic airliners, and stacked them around volcanoes. Still, they are rather visionary and you can compare them with what has come to pass in contemporary times and there are some remarkable features that have fortuitously become realties.

roundhill designs for Yates Seed Packets EDIT copy

Yates seed packets from the 1960s, Image courtesy of Sarah E. Laing collection, 44 Ways of Eating an Apple blog.  

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Roundhill, described as a quiet and withdrawn persona, had embraced the wacko cult in 1953, along with his wife of the time, during a period when he was, besides running the studio, deputy mayor of Ellerslie Borough (he had spent a number of years as a council member previous to this). An acquaintance who was teaching him the art of public speaking, passed him a book on the religion. He said of himself he “learned, through Scientology, to create art that could communicate to people….(through it I) received validation and learned to do it better and better.” The last part may have some basis in truth but the former is quite debatable since Roundhill had effectively been “communicating to people” very successfully through his work for a good twenty years before the religion ever came into his life.

skippy  - judith ann - ice cream baby - sanitarium bixies copy

Clockwise from top left: Portrait of Skippy the Dog,  for J.R. Butland’s Champ pet foods, 1950s, Image courtesy of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Reg: CA000672/003/0008. Point-of-sale advertising material for Sanitarium’s Bixies cereal.  Portrait of  Judith Ann Field, the fictional home economics rep for J.R. Butland’s Crest Foods, 1953. Image courtesy of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Reg: CA000662/001/0004. Painting of baby with ice cream and dog, probably done for a magazine in the early 1950s.

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Along with gravity, communication and its language was a concept that fascinated him and he ruminated on often as he undertook his work – of which he had an extraordinary ability to focus on, to the point of being able to exclude everything else going on around him that may have been distracting. “When I’m doing artwork, there’s nothing else in existence as far as I’m concerned” he once said.

Teachatot Game by Holdsons 1960s-1970s retouched Bernard Roundhill

Holdson’s Teachatot game box for Thomas Holdsworth & Sons, issued 1961. Private collection.

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During the 1960s and 1970s, he was a very busy designer and continued to complete a huge amount of work. He may well have been the most prolific commercial artist during that time. Between commercial work that continued to flow in – he returned to his former Depression-era occupation of painting mystical and symbolic scenes on dark velvet; he had flirted with this style again in his spare time in the 1950s, making greeting cards.
His creations in this genre were fantastic, kitsch, and…pretty awful really – in fact so much so that I am not going to include a picture of one (it’s true what they say about not quitting your day job). For someone who had built a reputation for cheerful, colourful and glossy work, these tacky renderings of Kingfishers, sailing ships, woodsmen and deer were surprisingly dark and creepy. But really, when you look hard at the characters in his commercial work like his portrait of Judith Ann Field and others – there is something slightly unnerving about their glazed stares and sinister Stepfordesque perfection – like they are aliens that have been zipped into a full body disguise.

The Incredible Tale (Fisherman and Boy ) 1953 Bernard Roundhill Te Papa collection edit copy

“The Incredible Tale (Fisherman and boy)”, 1953. Image courtesy of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Reg:CA000661/001/0003

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The most famous design he produced from the studio in his long career, one that went around the world, over and over, was during this period – the Air New Zealand Koru which was apparently designed originally in 1965 when TEAL became Air New Zealand and looked to replace its Southern Cross logo with something new and innovative. The koru was first applied to the tail of Air New Zealand aircraft with the arrival of the DC-10 in 1973, and has remained in use ever since.
Leigh-Ellen recalls: “I was banned from the studio when they were working on this, which was created by (graphic designer) Ken Chapman. I reasoned my way around that, and I watched the development of the project which was very exciting. I saw a lot of confidential things go on during it.” Although Roundhill mostly gets complete and unquestioned credit for this design, it seems he only came up with the original concept that was repeatedly returned to the drawing board, re-designed, developed and finished by members of his staff.

In amongst this period of great success resulting in the zenith of his most famous design – was also a period of tragedy for him. In 1967 his mother and his father John William and Mabel Roundhill both died within the year (sister Mabel had passed away ten years earlier). Then in 1969 son Dean Bernard Roundhill was killed in a road accident with a motorcycle at just 16 years old.

Whittomes Kia-Ora Jam - whittome & Stevenson- Mike Davidson prob early- mid 1960s prob Roundhill artwork

Kia-Ora jam can label, for Whittome & Stevenson, probably early-mid 1960s. Image courtesy of Mike Davidson collection.

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Winstone by Bernard Roundhill from  Peter Alsop's book

Original artwork for Willy, Lofty, Tiny and Droop: Roofing Tiles, illustration for Winstone’s promotional book, 1956. Image courtesy of Museum of New Zealand Te
Papa Tongarewa, Reg: CA000659/002/0004

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However clients kept him occupied while he delegated jobs to a staff that swelled to as many as sixteen at times. As well as most of the clients listed of the 1950s, in the 1960s-1970s Roundhill added Peter Pan (ice cream and frozen foods), Air New Zealand, Robinson’s (cordials and baby foods), Jason Products (placemats and coasters) Blue Bonnet (spreads and jams), Wonderset (hair products) Yukich’s Montana Wines, Swiss Maid (dairy), Craig’s canned foods, sauces and jams (Butland Industries) and Qantas amongst his roster during this period. Initially he had started employing others post-war period to help with the more tedious jobs like lettering, but the studio, which also had the rare distinction of being independent from an advertising agency, produced a number of respected designers like John Woodruffe and Graham Braddock. It wasn’t until the mid to late 1980s that Roundhill finally dipped his toe in the digital world of production – converting the studio which previously had run without even a photocopier.

In 1988 Bernard Roundhill was presented with the Gold Axis Award by the New Zealand Advertising Institute, for excellence in advertising communication and craft excellence. At the time it was only one of three that had been bestowed.

Yates Garden Painting Book - New Gold Dream -Bernard Roundhill  - Phillip Matthews - Listener Apr 20-26 2002

The Yates Garden Painting Book for children, issued 1953, replete with evil gnomes to give you nightmares.

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After Olive died in 1984, Roundhill married for a third and final time – to Peggy Lee (not the celebrated crooner). Peggy was a widow who had one son from her former marriage. She also claimed she was a writer and director, as well as a “highly trained” scientology counsellor. Peggy was a few years behind Bernard, having discovered the religion in 1961 through the Dianetics book which was held at Auckland University. It was after his second wife died they found had their faith in common; whether they knew each other earlier on is unknown but highly likely. They soon sold the Ellerslie property and moved to a cottage in Torbay.

Air New Zealand craft with Roundhill's Koru design All rights reserved by dbcnwa flickr edit copy

Air New Zealand craft with the Roundhill Studio’s Koru design. Image courtesy of and © dbcnwa on Flickr .

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His relationship and union happened with Peggy very quickly – who was by all accounts a very charismatic individual with “enough energy to power the national grid.” Controlling and possessive – she essentially closed Bernard off into a spiritual bubble, alienating him from his family. Leigh-Allen says “…I became estranged until two weeks before he died. I was banned from retrieving any of my, or my family’s things, from the house after (Peggy married him). Peggy told a lot of tales and I think Bernard just gave up (fighting it).” One journalist described her style as “cheerful embellishment.” Apparently in her world the truth was highly negotiable if inconvenient – see earlier story about Bernard and the aeroplane, which may have had a vague basis in legitimacy – but was pretty far-fetched by the time she had re-styled it.

So devoted were they that by 1994, the couple moved to Southern California to teach and lecture on the religion. To say that a move to the other side of the world to establish a new life in his early eighties was risk-taking is an understatement – not only was he very elderly but Bernard was suffering from Parkinson’s Disease. The couple spent much of their savings trying to find a cure and when the money and will power ran out – they decided to go home.
By the early 2000s they had returned to New Zealand and were living in Mairangi Bay on North Shore, Auckland where Bernard indulged in his favourite pastime; gardening. Towards the end, Peggy undertook the administrative role for Bernard’s art studio, which seems to indicate he continued to work in some capacity – although seemingly he started wind down commissions in the early-mid 1990s when his illness got the better of him. Nevertheless, he had been kept busy work-wise well into his eighth decade.

Yates Seeds_350 Art by Bernards Roundhill EDIT

Yate’s seed packet designs, probably early-mid 1950s. Image from the “New Zealand In Bloom” exhibition, 2005, courtesy of Museum of New Zealand Te
Papa Tongarewa.

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Peggy had a scientology website, which was a joint undertaking also showcasing Bernard and his work. It has since gone out of commission – likely it went down because she died in 2006, the year following Bernard – and the hosting has obviously since expired. Bernard had passed away in 2005 at age 94; but before that Peggy had spent three years between 1999 and 2002 sorting his archives in preparation for offering the collection to a museum. The archive collection effectively falls into three categories: original finished art, commercial art products (such as posters and ephemera), and then Bernard’s reference material, including some by his contemporaries. Ultimately the body of work went to Te Papa where it remains today as an example of how he styled some of our most recognisable brands through the seven decades of his remarkable career. In 2005 they showcased some of it in a Richard Wolfe-curated exhibition “New Zealand in Bloom.”

Young woman hitching 1951-1954 Te Papa collection

“Young Woman Hitching a Ride”, 1951-1954. Likely commissioned by L. R. Allen & Co., Ltd. for a calendar. Image courtesy of Museum of New Zealand Te
Papa Tongarewa, Reg: A000683/001/0003

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When working in other styles and genres such as the cartoonish and quirky “Surfing Santas” design for wrapping paper of 1950 – Roundhill showed that he was perfectly competent in capturing action adequately (although, on reflection, it seems likely this was designed by an employee). Everyone knows I am a devotee of some of his work like his hyper-real illustrations for Holdson; however his irregularity in a stellar level of illustration across the board tempts me to dub him overrated in comparison to the international greats – for as innovative as he was – butted up against them he tends to regularly fall short in consistence as well as imagination.

INNES - C L INNES & CO LTD  Strawberry Milk Shake & Ice Block Flavouring Syrup  1950S or 1960s Te Papa prob Bernard Roundhill EDIT

An Innes syrup label for C.L. Innes & Co. Ltd., produced mid-late 1950s. Images courtesy of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Reg: CA000680/001/0004

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The majority of his work speaks little of New Zealand culturally in that unique manner that defines such things as Kiwiana, and as such cannot claim that differentiation from the international work of others that would really propel it into its own unique genre.
But this is what happens when an attempt is made to reframe commercial work as high art – a concept and distinction that Roundhill always stated he was indifferent to; it is voluntarily judged under the harsh light of a new work lamp.
More than anything his oeuvre’s real value is as a time capsule of product showcasing packaging and advertising that stretches nearly seventy years. Although inspired by Norman Rockwell and his luscious Coca-Cola adverts, amongst other celebrated illustrators – Roundhill never quite reached that level excepting some of his brilliant futuristic scapes and was rightly awarded for them; but as such he ultimately may have just been a big fish in a small retouched pond.

Thanks to: Bridget Simpson, Reference Librarian, Central Auckland Research Centre, Central City Library. Jennifer Twist, Archivist, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Leigh-Ellen Roundhill, Grant Cathro, Peter Michel, Lemuel Lyes of History Geek and Mike Davidson for interviews, images, and assistance with research.

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All content of Longwhitekid copyright Darian Zam © 2013. All rights reserved.

Leaving a Legacy: Denne Drinks and Peter Pan Ice Cream

In Denne Brothers, Denne's Delicious Drinks, Peter Pan Frozen Foods Ltd, Peter Pan ice cream, T.C. Denne, Thomas Clement Denne on October 29, 2013 at 10.46

Cinema Advertising Lantern Slides 1958-1961 screen cap

Peter Pan Ice Cream glass lantern slide advertising for cinemas, made between 1958-1961, probably by Andy Keen. Courtesy of the Denne family collection.

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Some months ago now, I was kindly invited by Auckland-based historian Lisa Truttman to pen an article for NZ Legacy Magazine, the official journal of the New Zealand Federation of Historical Societies, Aotearoa’s longest running heritage publication. Lisa has been a fantastic supporter of my work on the Longwhitekid project, and it was an honour to fulfil her request. A reconfigured version was published, of a story I had previously posted on this blog back in early April 9, 2012, entitled “How it All Pans Out” – about T.C. Denne’s soft drink and ice cream business.
There has been quite a resurgence of interest lately, propelled by a company reunion, which has been organised for November the 2nd of this year; and Central Hawkes Bay Settler’s Museum are also having an exhibition on the topic to coincide with this – it opens after the 1st November and runs until 26th January 2014. It’s nice to think that this is all happening just a few months shy of what would be the 100th year since the establishment of the Denne Drinks business; an anniversary celebration, if you will.
During the year a stack of information had come in from various sources to add to the history of Denne Drinks and Peter Pan; so as a result I pretty much had to start from scratch and rewrite the whole thing, then edit it back down to the 2000 words required. The Legacy version was still not complete and posed a number of major questions regarding the story (since resolved).
Subsequently, I ended up with the full version of the story at 12,000 words, just sitting around. Wondering what to do with it, since it was now way too big to post to this blog – it seemed only fitting really to do a bit of a rewrite, add all the images I’ve made or gathered up during the course of my research, and publish it as a small book about the company and Denne family history, so that people attending the reunion and exhibition could buy and enjoy it.
Foolishly, I thought I was going to be able to achieve this and have it ready during the last four weeks of the school semester, not realising that I had a very long list of assignments yet to do. Nearly complete, and suddenly realising I was cutting it pretty fine -I decided to postpone it rather than fail my course. What was I thinking? Not much, apparently. Anyway I am not sure when the book will now ever see the light of day, if at all. However, you can buy Peter Pan cards in my Redbubble store here.
Certainly since this article was published, it now seems it falls quite short – given what knowledge I have gained of of the missing pieces of the story – but here it is anyway, with a few extra images. This appeared in the Vol 25, No 1 edition of Legacy which was in-store January 2013. Enjoy.

No 1 Factory & truck with stone jars 1930

Two trucks, a 1928 Dodge and a Chevrolet, emblazoned with the company name and packed full of neat rows of stoneware crocks, sit outside the original Waipukurau factory in 1930-1931. Courtesy of the Denne family collection.

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I never fail to be surprised that something that has been a long part of people’s lives disappears so rapidly, but doesn’t fade from one’s memory so quickly. Mention ‘Peter Pan’, and most remember it as being famous for their cold confections.
The brand originally came from T C (Thomas Clement) Denne’s soft drink business. T C’s parents arrived in New Zealand from Kent in 1875 and settled in Mataura in Southland, where T C was born in 1881.

Peter Pan railway card advertising circa 1968 NZ Archives collection

Railway advertisement, circa 1968. Artist: Unknown, NZ Railway Studios, Painting and collage on board, 225 x 420mm. Reproduced courtesy of Archives New Zealand The Department of Internal Affairs Te Tari Taiwhenua, Reference: AAAA 20991 W5860 1 F.

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At fifteen, he was seriously injured in a local paper mill – his hand de-gloved between rollers, necessitating grafts. The family were still in Mataura in 1902, but by 1904, T C was in Milton; secretary then deputy conductor of the brass band. Music was to remain a life-long love and any lingering effects of his accident did not impede his endeavours.
The family had moved to the logging town Horopito in the King Country by 1908 and T C commenced business with John Madsen. They purchased a number of sections in 1908-1909 and are described as storekeepers; a photograph shows both standing outside premises they had at National Park. Their shops thrived with the communities benefitting from the boom in the timber industry – spurred by the completion of the Main Trunk railway line in 1908.

Peter Pan Fabulous Dazzle Poster Bob Godfrey  recreation by Darian Zam circa early-mid 1960s

Recreation of a mid-1960s hand screen-printed poster for the Peter Pan Dazzle, by Bob Godfrey.  

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By 1912 the relationship had dissolved. Denne sold his part “to take up another business closer to town” and this was likely his entrée into soft drinks. A 1908 report mentions “numerous cordial proprietors of Horopito, charged with selling over-proof [alcoholic] product”. T C perhaps acquired one of these concerns and to learn the trade quickly he sat at someone’s knee.

Treasure Tip recreation copy

Recreation of a mid-late 1960s  wrapper for the Treasure Tip novelty, designed by Bob Godfrey,  

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In 1913, he married Agnes Morris and his last mention in the area was in February 1914, in a letter to the Crown Lands department in which he refused to pay arrears.
Extraordinarily confident, he mastered brewing, extraction and aeration and set up two factories expeditiously.

In 1914, T C appeared in Queen Street, Masterton. An advertisement in January 1915 depicts ‘Denne’s Aerated Waterworks’ and a factory producing soda water, non-alcoholic ale and beer, and cordials. Simultaneously he was producing vinegar in Eketahuna, although the family say this was his first business. “Eketahuna had this beautiful spring, hence the factory there”, says Yvonne Sutton, T C’s granddaughter.

DENNES DELICIOUS DRINKS - Wairarapa Daily Times - 23 December 1916 - Page 8<

Denne’s Delicious Drinks, Wairarapa Daily Times, 23 December 1916, Page 8.

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Between 1916 and 1919 advertisements for ‘Denne’s Delicious Drinks’ make mention of the ‘dry district’ of Wairarapa. That electorate banned alcohol from 1908 to 1946, so fermented drinks were booze-free, and his move to the area likely reflected his devout Seventh-day Adventism. By 1917, he was conducting Masterton’s Silver and Brass Bands. In 1919 he quit “for business reasons”, and sold his factory which was then renamed ‘Crystal Springs’ by partners Neill Wotton.
T C departed for good, being publicly presented with an engraved conductor’s baton.

Peter Pan Lemonade Blueberry Poster Bob Godfrey    recreation by Darian Zam  circa mid-mid 1960s

Recreation of a mid-1960s hand screen-printed poster for the Peter Pan Blueberry, by Bob Godfrey.  

His business carried on at Eketahuna – a factory receipt proves his residence there until July 1926. In Waipukurau, he immediately established a new factory.
In 1929, looking to expand, T C purchased ice cream equipment from Lionel Swain in Waipawa. Swain also suggested the brand name ‘Peter Pan’ – although it was used from the mid 1930s, it was only trademarked in 1946.

Denne Cordial Factory and Cioal Yard Reciept Eketahuna 1926 credit Tony Smith

Denne’s Drinks and Coal Yard, reciept from Eketahuna factory, July 1926. Image courtesy Tony Smith collection.

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It was early days in the industry and T C built a 16-foot lean-to, as he assumed he would have only a limited market. Ice cream was initially churned in a bucket and sold in bulk.
Soon after, T C’s son Tom (Thomas Vernon Denne 1916-1983) joined the business. The 1930s saw smooth growth, unimpeded by the economic depression, but certainly plans were being made to establish a permanent ice cream business. The Tokomaru Steam Engine Museum have a 1937 ‘Sisson’ model, bought from the Dennes – “acquired 1967, a generator for power cuts, never used”. Dependent on local dairy cattle for the first decade, the company’s rapid growth meant ingredients had to be shipped in.
By 1940, ice cream had usurped the soft drink business – so that part of the business was sold.

Denne lemonade labelled circa 1928-1940 credit Tony Smith

Denne’s soft drink bottle with original contents ad label intact, produced between 1928-1938. Image courtesy Tony Smith collection.

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The first ‘novelty’ product, the ‘Peter Pan Pie’, arrived in 1945. Even with automated machinery, the ice creams were hand wrapped. This was later improved under T C’s son Haydn (Maxwell Hayden Denne, 1921-2008) who joined in 1945. Much of the production machinery was devised on site; Haydn built the first fully articulated freezer truck in New Zealand from an old army chassis, beginning what was to become a large custom fleet.

Denne lemonade bottlr  Label  circa 1928-1940

A recreation of the Denne’s soft drink bottle label above, produced between 1928-1938. Image courtesy Tony Smith collection.

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Haydn became the creative force behind products, developing recipes and techniques, and eventually issuing a new novelty every six weeks. John Denne, T C’s grandson, says: “There were heaps of different flavours of ice cream. But one of the best was Hokey Pokey”. In the early days, the hot toffee was poured into cut down milk powder tins, then smashed and spooned in by hand, as the product exited the churn. Both grandchildren remember that occurring in the mid-1950s and it’s possible Peter Pan were creators of this iconic treat.

Peter Pan Products - original ice cream shed TC Denne Agnes Denne and poss Lionel Swain  1930

Tom and Agnes Denne on the right, and a refrigeration technician, with their first ice cream churn in 1929. Courtesy of the Denne family collection.

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Highly popular 1960s novelties included ‘Nutty Cha Chas’, ‘Pink Elephants’ and ‘Jolli-Lollis’ – an iceblock mix in a plastic sachet. “That was an innovation too”, says John, “we may have been first”. Peter Pan seemingly cornered the market in novelty product – a specialty gimmick were ices with imbedded confectionery.
Tony Dean, who worked there from 1966 to 1973, recalls “the Treasure Tip, with jelly babies inserted manually”. Other products were ‘Red Knight’, ‘Honey Bunny’ and the movie-based ‘Hello Dolly’. Many likely capitalised on contemporary popular culture, and were promoted with colourful, garish advertising by artist Bob Godfrey.

Pink Elephant recreation REVISED CROPPED

Recreation of a mid-late 1960s wrapper for the Pink Elephant novelty, designed by Bob Godfrey.

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I stumbled on this story through the sale of a poster lot at auction. Yvonne says “He had a distinct style; posters were printed in his department, originally the local morgue. It still had the marble slabs! When they were rebuilding the hospital, some structures were bought by the company and transferred to the site. The whole layout made use of whatever they found”.

peter pan ice cream sandwich board 1950s

Peter Pan ice cream sandwich board, probably 1950s, image courtesy Cheryl Kelly.

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T C died in 1950 and his sons assumed his mantle with fervour. John says “Dad handled marketing and sales, Haydn did the production – he had the creativity”.
By 1965, under Tom’s management, ‘Peter Pan’ was now the third-largest ice cream manufacturer in New Zealand with 153 staff and 53 trucks covering a network of depots.

T C Denne & Co crock 1930 credit Brian Turner

These stoneware crocks these were first issued in 1928,  and then again two years later.  A small number of these two issues exist today now selling well into the hundreds each. Image courtesy of Brian Turner.

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Tony Dean recalls ‘Peter Pan’ also had a contract to distribute Hellaby’s frozen chicken and peas. In the 1960s, this expanded to fish fingers and fillets, squid, beans, mixed vegetables, and corn. John recalls “Sanfords was one seafood supplier. Sadd’s in the South island processed frozen vegetables. Perishability means – to make distribution work you need a good range. It was mainly stores we delivered to – there weren’t large supermarkets like today. Delivering ice-cream wasn’t enough – so over time we developed many products”. Advertising from the 1960s shows frozen pastry, and fast food snacks marketed as ‘Chinese’. There was a line of milkshake syrups, and ‘Tru Fru’ sundae sauces.
Hazel Hori, who worked there from 1963 to 1965, remembers “Many Waipukurau people spent part of their lives there. My dad was employed for many years, my mother; my brother, and me – during school holidays.” It was a rite of passage to do a stint before heading out into the world.

Peter Pan Products - frozen pastry box 1960s  back

The back of a Peter Pan one pound frozen pastry box, designed by Bob Godfrey, mid-late 1960s.

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The Dennes were known as fair, generous employers; they even had a ‘Peter Pan Bus’ to transport staff. Former workers praise them highly. Says John, “We valued our staff very much. When I became a pastor, it had trained me in that administering aspect, because my father would visit workers in hospital.” In 1962, John started working in quality control and eventually became assistant manager. “Dad was keen for me to be management so I went through all phases – no special treatment. He was disciplined but fair and generous – also forgiving if someone did him wrong, giving them another chance”. He was “inventive and innovative in business, extremely hard working, rising at 4 a.m. every morning – working long hours.”

Peter Pan Bonanza Checkerboard Poster Bob Godfrey    recreation by Darian Zam  circa mid-late 1960s

Recreation of a mid-late 1960s hand screen-printed poster for Peter Pan checkerboard ice cream, by Bob Godfrey.

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In 1964, the Dennes sold shares to Hellaby’s to free up cash flow for their next expansion. Several companies were grouped under ‘Peter Pan Foods Ltd’ in anticipation. Yvonne says “This was significant because it was strictly a family company no longer… the first time they took anything out besides wages”.

Peter Pan Tom and Haydn Denne

Peter Pan management Tom (Thomas Vernon) Denne Jr.and Haydn (Maxwell Hayden) Denne, early 1970s.

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By 1965, Peter Pan was the area’s main employer and it started to expand with a new site, a defunct dairy complex approximately a kilometre further from town. Thus, the factories came to be numbered. Number One was the original site on Cook and Ruataniwha Streets (street numbers 177-183). This was where ice cream tubs, packs, novelties, and waffle cones (also packed in boxes as individual products) were manufactured, and was simultaneously ‘Head Office’. Gradual additions over decades created an expansive jumble.
Frozen pastry started at Number One and then moved to the bakery at Number Two factory, further out at Takapu Road, where doughnuts and other goods were made. Number Two focussed on ice confections, as well as ice cream and frozen foods.

Peter Pan Exotic Chinese Poster recreation 400 dpi  copy copy

Recreation of a late 1960s hand screen-printed poster for Peter Pan Chinese Foods range, by Bob Godfrey.

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By 1972, Hellaby’s subsidiary Peach Products owned 50% of ‘Peter Pan’. That year was pivotal to the future of the company, but not for that alone.
‘Peter Pan’ had an arrangement with Haighs, a subsidiary of Dalgety’s and one of the largest frozen food producers. Both distributed products reciprocally, an efficient relationship. Problems started when Dalgety’s sold Haighs to General Foods (under the Wattie’s General Foods Corporation umbrella).
General Foods were the producers of ‘Tip-Top’ and known to extinguish any other competing brands using any tactics necessary. A previous attempt to squelch ‘Peter Pan’s’ business had failed. John Denne remembers “Tip-Top moved in to Wanganui to take over. They told stores that we were out of business – so they took down the advertising. Dad went to court and won. I stayed for weeks repairing the damage.”

Now, General Foods had significant leverage in Haighs and immediately they severed ties, leaving Peter Pan without the means of distribution. This move caused debate in Parliament regarding the Trade Practices Act and its extension to domestic manoeuvres. Suddenly it posed a threat to livelihoods, which continued through various strategic operations over the next five years.The halcyon days had passed. An article reported: “…it was only when James Wattie exchanged his role from Captain Hook to Tinker Bell that Peter Pan seemed to have a future again.”

Jolli Lolli wrapper Bob Godfrey   recreation by Darian Zam  circa mid-late 1960s

Recreation of a Jolli Lolli wrapper, designed by Bob Godfrey, circa mid-late 1960s. 

 

In 1974, ‘Peter Pan’ was taken over by Hellaby’s, who quickly closed down some branches. There was upheaval in the ranks and an industrial strike in protest. In 1977, Hellaby’s flipped ‘Peter Pan’ to Premier Foods, who closed operations starting 31 March, and commenced to dismantle the company.

Peter Pan Hello Dolly Poster recreation 120 dpi 13 cm W

Recreation of a late 1960s-early 1970s hand screen-printed poster for the Hello Dolly novelty, by Bob Godfrey.

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Through 1977 to 1978, an assistance programme had been initiated by the Department of Labour, and cutbacks continued through 1979 with redundancy packages offered. Soon after that ‘Tip-Top’ stepped in to take on the manufacturing and market core of the business.
Most remember the premises operating as ‘Peter Pan Sales, Waipukurau’ until 1986. Then in 1988, the paperwork was filed for closure of the last divisions.

Peter Pan Products - Peter Pan ice cream box and van 1965

Peter Pan ice cream box and van, 1965. Originally published in Meat Market, R & W Hellaby’s trade magazine. Image courtesy of Hellaby Holdings.

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aJohn decided on a different career path and left town in 1971, bypassing the business transactions and politics. Does he think he had the best years? “I was only there for nine, but loved it. Seeing the demise of the company was painful. Knowing what it cost my Dad, he had greater pain. Seeing his life work, building an international trade – collapse under the greed of big business, who didn’t regard the livelihood of small town people, was cruel. He was remarkably gracious but the stress contributed to his early death. I still feel that pain.”

Denne Lime Squash Label from Taranaki printers proofbook circa 1930s credit Tony Smith

 Denne’s soft drink bottle label, 1930s. Image courtesy Tony Smith collection.

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Jan Gosling, at Waipawa Museum remembers “when we moved nearby the buildings were still there with faded signs – it seemed sad. It’s funny how things change, disappear – and you forget what was there.”

In 1998 the factory was demolished; the only remains being the mechanics workshop and staff cafeteria; now it is ‘Hatuma Engineering Supplies’. The Number One site is renumbered and renamed. The allotment now has a Health Centre; set back from where the expansive buildings of Peter Pan once represented all that was good. Although the ‘Peter Pan’ trademark remained in limbo for over 20 years, with the rights renewed to ‘Tip- Top’/’Fonterra Brands’, it finally lapsed in 2009, bringing the saga to a close forever.

Peter Pan Ice Cream and Frozen Foods Waipukurau - two Artic Trucks outside  No 1 factory

Two Artic trucks outside the Peter Pan factory on Ruataniwha (now renamed to Takapu) road, late 1960s-early 1970s. Author of image unknown.

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Thanks to John Denne, Yvonne Sutton, and Selina Gentry, all descendants of Thomas Clement Denne,  for research material, memories, images and memorabilia. Tony Smith, historian and collector for information on Denne drinks as well as photos of his collection and items of ephemera. Bridget Louise Wellwood , curator of the Eketahuna Mellemskov Museum. Pam Blackberry (1968-1970) and Tony Dean (1966-1973), both ex-employees of Peter Pan Frozen Foods for their recollections of working at Peter Pan. Merrilyn George, historian and author, for research notes. Jana Uhlirova, curator, Central Hawkes Bay Settler’s Museum. Andy May and Donna Gwen Hoby, one time acquaintances of the Dennes. Colin and Esma Stevenson, owners and curators at the Tokomaru Steam Museum. Doug Ellison, Caretaker at Norsewood Pioneer Museum. Jan Gosling, curator at Waipawa Museum. Stanley Fraser, historian. Lisa Truttman, historian and author of the Timespanner blog and the Timespanner Facebook page, and Brian Turner for image of Denne crock. 
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All content of Longwhitekid copyright Darian Zam © 2013. All rights reserved.

A Trail Goes Creamy and Cold

In Alpine Ice Cream, Apex Ice Cream Company Limited, Cornelius J Van Dongen, Eldora Ice Cream, Fonterra, Frozen Foods, G.E. Patton Ltd, Gager's Electric Belt, General Foods Corporation (NZ) Ltd, George Edward Patton, Hellaby's, Ice Cream, Lone Star Cafe, McAlpine, Newjoy Ice Cream Co, Perfection Ice Cream Co, Peter Pan Frozen Foods Ltd, Peter Pan ice cream, Prestcold refrigerators, Robinson Ice Cream, Sunshine Ice Cream, Supreme Ice Cream, Thomas Gager, Tip-Top, Wall's ice cream, Wall's Ice Cream Ltd on May 7, 2013 at 10.46

Apex Ice Cream Board recreation  copy

A recreation I’ve made of a rare metal and wood sandwich board, designed to advertise Apex outside on the footpath in front of a dairy.

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Apex is yet again a brand about which very little is known; it was Christchurch-based and lasted around forty years or so. I don’t even have a name for a founder or owner. However this almost complete lack of information  gives me a chance to delve into the lives of various names that were at some time associated with the brand and the property. a

Airds Dairy & Cake Shop Papanui shows Apex Ice cream and Ernest Adams Cakes edit

Airds Dairy and Cake Shop, showing Apex on sale as well as Ernest Adams cakes and Queen Anne chocolates, year unknown. Image courtesy of the Gordon Shields Collection via Kete Christchurch, File ref PHG25GS

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Apex Ice Cream Old Enamel  Sign 91 x 38 cm 1 edit  copy

Painted tin Apex advertising. The logo and slogan were fairly standard although the dimensions varied.

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Apex seems to have been established in 1933 at 25 Manchester St, Christchurch – but by whom I do not know. Records show the company was granted a building permit on 11th of  September that year. The builder was George Edward Patton (born 1885), whom by this time had already been in business locally for a decade; in 1923 he had founded G.E. Patton Ltd at 188 Barbadoes Street, Christchurch, not that far away (now renumbered to 194, it is next to  Henry’s beer wine and spirits). This building still stands although it looks somewhat different with a remodelled facade  and is quite dishevelled today.  a

25 Manchester Street, Christchurch Central, Christchurch 8011, New Zealand 1

Above and below: The first  Apex building built 1933 by Patton, at number 25 Manchester Street, on the corner of Dundas.

25 Manchester Street, Christchurch Central, Christchurch 8011, New Zealand 2

Patton were refrigeration specialists that went on to produce commercial fridge cabinets – the type for nicely displaying drinks, snacks and treats that need to be kept chilled – obviously ice cream being one product. We can surmise that Patton, through his commercial refrigeration work – had the equipment and know-how to easily set up such an operation with the machinery it needed. A photo of 1940 of the Barbadoes showroom shows their range is very well-established. They manufactured for McAlpine  (Prestcold refrigerators), amongst others and then eventually moved into purely design/wholesale products for huge businesses like Hellaby and Fonterra. They now have a number of branches all over  New Zealand as well as in Australia, Thailand and India and major international clients. a

DSC07603 Apex Ice Cream 1960s NZ edit

The original version of the sandwich board I’ve recreated at top. Image courtesy of  www.brentz.co.nz

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By 1936 Apex were offering family blocks as well as supplying bulk deliveries to dairies and parlours as exemplified in the couple of simple ads I have found in publications. This building still stands today on the intersection – now painted lurid orange and green and houses Printstop in two thirds and a cycle store in the remainder. a

G E Pattons 188 Barbadoes Street today edit

Above: The old G. E. Pattons showrooms, 188 Barbadoes Street, Christchurch, today. Below, the Pattons staff in the 1950s, courtesy of the Pattons website. 

Patten edit

It’s  possible Patton was from the Mount Somers area west of Christchurch as there is a mention in 1916 of someone by that name enlisting. He was part of the 13th C1 draft, and spent a spell serving in WWI. He married Ethel Laura Bundy (1894-1994) in Canterbury, year unknown. This may explain why there does not appear to be any marriage record – it’s indicated that they married between 1931-1945. It does not appear they  had any offspring or if so no records are publicly available due to privacy restrictions. That’s about all I know about him to date. He died in 1973, and was described as an engineer living in Opawa.a

APEX ICE CREAM STAMPS TO COLLECT Ellesmere Guardian, 1 October 1937, Page 1 edit colour copy

An advert for an incentive to buy Apex ice cream, Ellesmere Guardian, October 1937. Presumably a larger picture was made from individual stamps that were collected (probably not an image of an actual radio, but a picture of a radio star or show) and then once fully assembled you got your money. I doubt I’ll ever see one of these turn up – and if it did – the set wouldn’t be complete anyway.

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It may be worth noting that another major ice cream business of the time, Perfection, was further down the same street at numbers 300 and 304 over time, and in April 1940 Patton was also tasked with building at least one of those premises for them.a

Lone Star Cafe - 26 Manchester St courtesy Lone Star Cafe FB page

The second Apex building built 1940 by Van Dongen, Number 26 Manchester Street, directly opposite the 1933 premises on the intersection of Dundas. This became the first of a chain of 25 Lone Star Cafes. Image courtesy of  their Facebook page, and appears to have been taken in the early-mid 1980s.

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Previous occupants at 25 Manchester street, in whatever building had been there before – were both tailors (I am sure there were others). Thomas Gager is advertising an “Electric Belt” with supposed curative properties, in the late 1880s. As it turns out he fancied himself a bit of an inventor and there are a few references to his registering of patents. It seems he was in situ from at least 1882  until 1893 when there is a notice of his stock being bought for sale, after he went bankrupt – and he moved down the road to number 95. In the 1910s-1920s, Geoffrey Madden, another tailor and fitter,  is calling from the same address for men with unwanted war costumes to sell for fancy dress use.

Apex Ice Cream 25 Manchester Street - Opawa Public Library Carnival booklet 1930s edit orange

Apex advertisement from an Opawa Public Library Carnival booklet, circa 1936.

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On the 29th of May, 1940, permission was again granted to Apex Ice Cream Co. to build on the corner of Dundas and Manchester Streets, Christchurch, showing the construction was done this time by  a C. J. Van Dongen. Cornelius Jozepfus Van Dongen (b 1885) was presumably a Dutch immigrant given the provenance of his surname. He enlisted for  service  on the 5th of  August 1918, and was passed as fit on the 13th.  Details mention his profession as carpenter and residence in Tenysson Street, Sydenham,  at the time.  He was recorded as a “builder” by profession,  by the time he died in Christchurch, in 1966. The only other snippets I could dig up on his background was that he married to Ethel May Van Dongen (b 1886) who passed away in 1918. They had lived for some time in Hawkes Bay during the 1910s. They had a daughter Gladys Sybil Petronella born 1907 (later married a Francis Joseph Ashworth, 1928).  In 1923 he married a Sara Rubena Westwood Ritchie.

Apex Ice Cream tin sign from Australian site Roadside Relics edit  copy

Painted tin Apex advertising from outside of a building. Image courtesy of  Roadside Relics, Queensland. I had a question to the retailer about how this ended up in Australia – and apparently it was purchased  from the owners of  a pub named Pump in Maryborough in the 1980s-1990s, who were originally from Dunedin and had it decorated with a collection of signs they had brought with them. 

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Presumably this new Apex building was an additional premises, directly opposite 25 Manchester street on the intersection. This building was for many years, until recently, the original Lone Star Cafe  which eventually became a successful chain of twenty five venues. It was unfortunately destroyed in the 2010 earthquake and subsequently demolished. Apex Ice Cream Co. Ltd., was granted a Goods Service License under the Transport Act, 1949, Christchurch sometime between 1953-1962, showing that besides selling locally, they were by this time distributing far and wide.a

APEX ICE CREAM - CONTACT MAGAZINE Volume 3 No  2 Jan Feb 1943 Page 64 and 65 crop copy

Apex advert, from Contact: The National Magazine of the Royal New Zealand Air Force,Volume 3 No  2 Jan Feb 1943, Page 65. 

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 Over the last five years three or four hand-painted tin or wood Apex signs have come up for auction – all with similar layout and slogan – although varying dimensions. The only exception has been this red dairy footpath sign (that I recreated here with some modifications) which has been for sale from a Christchurch dealer for some time now. I’ve previously contacted him through both his website and Trade Me with personal sales inquiries for items and all times I have attempted my questions have remained unanswered  yet I noticed he’s very keen to provide answers when he auctions  five or ten dollar items so…winning sales technique there. Ergo I haven’t even bothered to contact again and find out anything about the provenance of this item. Given that apparently he is not interested in making any serious money – he certainly won’t be answering questions when none at all is on offer.

Lone Star Cafe - demolished

Number 26 Manchester Street, The original Lone Star Cafe, now a danger from earthquake damage, comes down.

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Data indicates that Apex was still running into the early 1970s at least (Christchurch Planning Tribunal/Environment Court case files are on record for 1971) – but it was eventually bought out by Tip-Top along with other companies like Supreme, New Joy, Robinson, Perfection, Eldora, Sunshine,  Peter Pan, Alpine, and Wall’s. By 1964, Tip-Top had finally achieved national distribution by gobbling up all the smaller (frozen) fish. Closed company files  indicate Apex may have changed hands in 1956, then again in 1964, which may be when Tip-Top stepped in and took over – since they were on a roll at the time buying out smaller brands in their bid to get to the top – they bought out Eldora in 1964 and Supreme in 1963. The final Closed Company Files for Apex were lodged sometime between 1964 and 1979. The only employee I’ve tracked down also commenced working for Apex in 1960 and finished up in 1964, so all the dates converge to some telling event. Unfortunately I was not able to talk to the person in question before publishing this article – but I am sure there is more to be added to this story in future. Perhaps someone trawling the web will come across this and be able to pass on some vital information that fills the gaps, like they did with the Peter Pan Frozen Foods saga.

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THOMAS GAGER TAILOR Star , Issue 5812, 29 December 1886, Page 2 edit

Above: Gager, had been just one resident business owner  in the days before Apex. From the Star, Page 2, 29 December 1896. He moved to 95 in 1893, but he was already hawking his own patented invention of electric accessories from his former address at 25 Manchester Street in the 1880s. Below, an ad from the Press, 15 November 1893, Page 7.

THOMAS GAGER'S ELECTRIC BELTS  Press, Volume L, Issue 8640, 15 November 1893, Page 7

 

Credits: Thanks to Dave Homewood, from Wings Over Cambridge,  check out their collection of great Contact magazine covers online here.  Also thanks to  Chris Newey from Foodworks online - the  New Zealand Food & Beverage Directory,  for some research pointers.

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All content of Longwhitekid copyright Darian Zam © 2013. All rights reserved.

Addendum mid-Jan 2014: I’ve added this amazing, extremely rare image of an early piece of Apex advertising. This was sent to me by Nick Boblea, a hard-core veteran of enamel sign collecting. He has an amazing accumulation from what I’ve seen – and was kind enough to contact me after reading this article and offer a picture of this one. I’m guessing it dates from the earliest days of the brand.

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Addendum mid-March 2014: Reader Carolyn Catt kindly sent in this  image of  one of two Apex signs stashed in her garage, that she acquired twenty years ago in the Christchurch area.

Apex sign c Carolyn Catt copy smlveteran of enamel sign collecting. He has an amazing accumulation from what I’ve seen – and was kind enough to contact me after reading this article and offer a picture of this one. I’m guessing it dates from the earliest days of the brand.a

Seasoned Greetings

In Bob Godfrey, artist, Christmas, Foodstuffs (NZ) Ltd, Four Square, Four Square Supermarkets, Peter Pan Frozen Foods Ltd, Peter Pan ice cream, Xmas on December 27, 2012 at 10.46

Peter Pan Christmas tea towel envelope by   Bob Godfrey EDIT firther edit

I want to take a moment to wish all my subscribers a very festive Christmas season for 2012. Last year I didn’t get around to doing any kind of Yuletide-related post, so I have added some new items to my Four Square Christmas post of 2010 here.

Also, earlier this month Longwhitekid passed its two year milestone. I don’t know if I was expecting to still be around because I never really had any clear-cut plan when I started this project, one way or the other. In point of case, it wasn’t even any sort of “project” at the beginning. Here’s hoping for at least a couple more – I don’t anticipate my enthusiasm for this genre dying out any time in the near future and I have a fairly long list of topics I’d like to cover as well as ideas I’d like to see through. Although, you’ve probably noticed I’ve slowed down a lot lately and I’m no longer posting weekly. Two weeks at a stretch is about as much as I can manage. In fact I just had a month where I did not put up anything new, which I feel bad about, but moving right along.

This year was kind of a trial to say the least in a couple of parts – but 2013 is shaping up to be crazy. Definitely from July 2013 I am not going to have time to blog for a good six months – but the whole year is looking dodgy.  I am hoping to keep going but in order to achieve what I consider my “standard” now it takes a hell of a lot more work than I was bargaining for at the beginning. It is very different from when I started out in early December 2010 – in fact looking at the formative days what I was doing is pretty laughable. I wouldn’t go back and change it though – it documents the journey I’ve taken into this new area.  I’ve learned a lot about researching and writing, and as such my expectations are now way higher of my own articles, not to mention what my readers are expecting. Now it takes a great deal more effort to get it right, and a lot of focus do it well.

By the way, the image above is an extremely rare item that was the wrapper for a promotional tea towel issued by the Peter Pan Frozen Foods company in the mid-late 1960s. It has been lent to me by the family who founded the business – and likely is the only one in existence. But since I probably won’t use it I am posting it here where it is relevant and appropriate. If you want to learn more about Peter Pan just find the category in the archives where I have done at least three stories on this  brand – which was at one point one of the three biggest ice cream concerns in New Zealand. Otherwise you can either buy the first 2013 issue of NZ Legacy Magazine which has a 2000 word article, or wait until late next year when I post the full (and definitely final) 8000+ word article online here.

The artwork was all done by Bob Godfrey (including this) in his signature quirky style (not to be confused with the famous British cartoonist Bob Godfrey) but as yet I have not been able to find out anything further about him even after sending out letters to dozens of Kiwis with that surname. It’s like the guy never existed before or after his stint at Peter Pan. I suppose what I was really hoping for was to find a further fabulous cache of his artwork – but so far no luck at all. Somebody must have it – or know something about him. I’ve pretty much exhausted all avenues of this particular inquiry. Maybe between now and the middle of 2013 some kind of break will turn up – but I get a feeling not with this one.

Have a great holiday (if indeed you get one) whatever you’re doing – and I’ll be back fairly shortly with a lengthy article on old Auckland foodstuffs manufacturer Brown Barrett Ltd. And by fairly shortly, I mean tomorrow at the latest.

 

All content of Longwhitekid copyright Darian Zam © 2012. All rights reserved.

Hokey Information: Poking at History

In Brian Simon, Cadbury Fry Hudson, Cadbury Schweppes Hudson Ltd, Cadbury's, Cadbury's Crunchie, confectionery, Crystal Ice Cream, Deep South Ice Cream Ltd, Desserts, food historian, Frozen Foods, Hokey Pokey, Hokey Pokey ice cream, Hudsons, Ice Cream, Kraft Foods, Kraft Foods Ltd, MacDuffs stores, Manda Ice Cream Ltd, Meadow Gold Ice Cream Ltd, Newjoy Ice Cream Co, Peter Pan Frozen Foods Ltd, Peter Pan ice cream, Professor Helen Leach, Snowflake Ice Cream Ltd, Tip-Top, William Hatton on October 17, 2012 at 10.46

Newjoy Ice Cream sandwich board from a dairy showing products of the time. Painted by Tyrell & Holmes, 1958, courtesy of  and  © D. R. Murray of Built In Dunedin blog at  http://builtindunedin.com/

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Hokey Pokey ice cream. A national icon of foodstuffs, and officially the country’s favourite flavour next to (surprisingly) vanilla, in a land where the citizens have the highest consumption of ice cream per capita globally- sitting at well over twenty litres per annum, per person – even beating out the entire of the U.S. An amazing statistic really.
So who invented it? It’s a very good question, actually. Next to the Pavlova debate, it may be the number one most hotly contested issue of that genre.
Hokey Pokey, the confectionery, was apparently around quite some time as an individual confectionery product before it made it into ice cream form.

A close-up of William Hatton’s 1896 patent paperwork for Hokey Pokey, Archives New Zealand.

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Of course the famous fact about Hokey Pokey is that it was patented by a man named William Hatton, a manufacturer and confectioner from Dunedin, in March 1896:
A mixture of about 20 to 30 pounds of sugar and five to ten pounds of glucose is boiled with a little water to a degree not exceeding 400 degrees Fahrenheit; and then from 2 to 3 ounces of Carbonate of Soda is added causing the mixture to froth and become light. It is then poured out and moulded into any desired shape.
The record lies within Archives New Zealand where they consider it one of the jewels in the Kiwiana crown. They did a short piece on it here:

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“The invention of Hokey Pokey signifies how food is intimately related to our sense of identity and what it means to be a New Zealander”, says Greg Goulding , the Chief Archivist and General Manager.

Tin sign advertising Papatoetoe concern Meadow Gold which took over Snowflake in 1955. This sign probably early 1960s.

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Hatton may have patented the name and method, but he certainly didn’t invent it. I managed to locate records of Hokey Pokey being sold as confectionery new Zealand quite some time earlier than that – it was being offered as early as 1892 – by the Tyrell stores, owned by King and Co. It seems to have been in vogue as a novelty for a decade or so, and then doesn’t start re-appearing as a sweet until the 1920s.

Griffins Hokey Pokey Cream biscuits photographed  by Kniven & Co  for Woolworths N.Z. Ltd., Alexander Turnbull Library collection , Ref: 1/2-210966-F

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 None of these references of course show exactly what the product looked like or even describe it, however the earliest descriptions of commercial product refer to hunks, lumps or slabs – and that’s mostly in the late 1920s-early 1930s. The earliest visual I have is 1932 by MacDuffs. It was a chocolate coated bar and what would closely resemble a Crunchie, or Violet Crumble in Australia today; perhaps a bit heftier. Earlier mentions describing it as chocolate-coated hunks or lumps would resemble what’s sold today as “Honeycomb.”

Tip-Top TT-2, courtesy of Fonterra’s Tip-Top archives.

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Although Professor Helen Leach, who is a culinary anthropologist at Otago University (and wrote the book “The Pavlova Story” on the famous debate over the dessert) at the time she was quoted (2010) says that the earliest recipe she could find was 1916. However, The Auckland Star newspaper’s confectioner offered a cookbook including a Hokey Pokey recipe in 1895.

A picture of William Hatton’s 1896 patent paperwork for Hokey Pokey, Archives New Zealand.

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I don’t doubt that putting candy pieces in ice cream was an old idea. Hokey Pokey ice cream can generally be described as plain vanilla with small lumps of what is commonly known as honeycomb toffee distributed throughout it. Jeri Quinzio, a food historian, says that the origins of Hokey Pokey ice cream are rather simple and consisted of a cake of plain ice cream proffered by street vendors which was sliced to order and served wrapped in a piece of paper. Often the ice cream was layered in three flavours (what is commonly known as Neapolitan today) but this was not a hard and fast rule. It’s also quite likely that variations had small pieces of toffee or candy, and other ingredients mixed in the plain or layered base – a little like Cassata. According to The Encyclopaedia of Food, 1923, which was published in New York, Hokey Pokey is “a term applied to mixed colours and flavours of ice cream in cake form”.

MacDuffs Stores confectionery, Hokey Pokey Tablet, November 1932.

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And indeed it is thought that the origins of the name may be Italian and come from one of two phrases – “oh che poco” (oh how little) or “ecco un poco” (here is a little piece). This does make some sense, since that the term Hokey Pokey is also thought to derive from a song that was used by Italian street vendors who used to sing it in order to hawk their wares in 19th century Britain and America – and came to be known as “Hokey Pokey Men” ( and thus, the carts came to be known as Hokey Pokey Barrows). Another theory is that the vendors would yell “Ecce pocce”, which means something similar to “Get it here, it’s cold”, in Italian and this evolved into the name “Hokey Pokey”. After all, it was the Italians (and French) that really started making what we now know as ice cream in the late 1600s.

A recreation of Hokey Pokey in it’s original form; in the C19th it was a simple slice served wrapped in paper, often a tri flavour creation. Courtesy of Ivan Day from a fantatsic blog “Food History Jottings” at  foodhistorjottings.blogspot.com.au

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However “The Hokey Pokey” was a song (and dance) was inspired by the sweet treat, not the other way around, , allegedly written by bandleader Al Tabor in 1940, the idea came from an ice cream vendor whom Tabor had heard as a boy, calling out, “Hokey pokey, penny a lump. Have a lick, make you jump”.

Evening Post, December 1927.

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Apparently, the story goes that Hokey Pokey in ice cream form was first made by a Papatoetoe company in the 1940s. This alleged fact has been widely quoted by various, but the only source I could find giving credit was Christchurch City library which indicates the information as being from Richard Wolfe and Stephen Barnett’s 2002 book “100 years of Kiwiana “ . CCL’s page on Kiwi Classics goes on to say “…peculiar to New Zealand is hokey-pokey (sic), a blend of vanilla base with pieces of toffee. Made famous by Tip Top, it was first sold by the Meadow Gold Ice Cream Company of Papatoetoe, Auckland, in the 1940s. The idea of adding toffee wasn’t new, but the distinctive taste was unique.” Further to that, the “100% New Zealand” website, by Tourism New Zealand, claims that it was “… first sold in 1940 (but doesn’t say by whom), Hokey Pokey became a national favourite when the Tip-Top Ice Cream company began heavily marketing it in the 1950s…” Yet again the source of this information isn’t quoted.

MacDuff’s Stores confectionery, Evening Post, September 1933.

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In fact Meadow Gold (which had a logo rather like Borden’s “Elsie the Cow”) didn’t exist until 1955. The Snowflake ice cream factory was once situated just to the south of the block of shops on the corner of Great South Road and Caspar Road, Papatoetoe. The factory was run by W.G. Lunn during the 1940s, then Rita and George Aagard took over the business in 1949, selling it to Meadow Gold after they were done after just six years. So technically, Meadow Gold could not have come out with it in the 1940s.
Of course, everyone wants to stake their claim, be “the person that had the idea” – and take the title of the one who invented this beloved dessert. Tip-Top’s claim is fairly dubious, and there is no information on Meadow Gold let alone anything to back that claim up. The janky dates also don’t fare well at all.

A screen shot of William Hatton’s method description in his patent, 1896, Archives New Zealand

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A more detailed explanation comes from descendants of Peter Pan ice cream’s founder T.C. Denne, who claim that they were possibly the first to make Hokey Pokey, not Meadow Gold- and they actually have a written description of how it was first made – “In the early days, The hokey-pokey was manually crushed into large chunks and hand-spooned into the ice cream during the churning process. Later the engineers developed machinery which crushed and blended the hokey pokey into the ice cream”.

 Yvonne Sutton as well as John Denne distinctly remember it already being made by the mid-1950s: “My understanding is, it was Peter Pan that invented the Hokey Pokey ice cream. I’m pretty sure that’s correct. It was a very exacting procedure because you have a porous, soft sugary product inside an ice cream – and to stop the Hokey Pokey from melting was really a technique that was very valuable – and my understanding is that Peter Pan began it”, says JohnYvonne remembers: “I think it was an original Peter Pan product – first made – and superior to all later versions.  Of course I’m somewhat biased. I well remember it  being made by Trevor Franklin in a large steam jacketed ‘kettle,’  and how the golden sugary mix frothed up when the baking soda was put in. It was poured hot into large, shallow, cut down milk powder tins, and chilled. When cold, it  was dropped in big chunks into an ingenious crusher, built by engineer Gordon Brogden, then shovelled generously by hand into the ice cream. Delectable!”

So here we have some verifiable company information, a detailed description, a general date and eyewitnesses.

Modern version of the Tip-Top tub showing the new toffee balls that recently replaced smashed “kibble”.

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In the scheme of things they are a contender for the title however here is another, likely better one: Brian Simon, previous owner of both Deep South Ice Cream Ltd and Manda Ice Cream companies in Invercargill. Now in his seventies, he himself claims to have made the first Hokey Pokey ice cream at a Dunedin company in 1953:
“I was 18 and working in my father’s ice cream factory Newjoy Ice Cream Co., and we thought about different flavours (we could do). I was reading in an American magazine about what they were making there and one was candy ice cream, and I thought “well, we’ve never had one like that in New Zealand”. We had two Dutchmen working there during the daytime and then when they knocked off, they walked up the road to Cadbury’s to do the night shift. One day I asked them – “what are you doing there?” and they said “Oh, we’re making Crunchie bars”. So I said “do they have any broken Hokey Pokey?”and they said “yes, they’ve got quite a bit” and I said “well can you put me in touch with the man that I can talk to about buying some?” So we got some and I started sprinkling it into the ice cream. And that’s how we first made ice cream with Hokey Pokey in it and it became quite popular. Our opposition at the time was Crystal Ice Cream in Dunedin and they started doing it too – and it just sort of blossomed from there.

Auckland Star newspaper’s  cook book with Hokey Pokey recipe of January 1895 far predates Prof. Helen Leach’s 1916 find.

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But I have seen in a book that somebody showed me, that Tip-Top claim to be the first ones to do it in 1943 or 1944 and I said “oh, that’s bullshit”.  At that time we were on sugar rationing , as well as petrol rationing , because it was World War Two and you just couldn’t get the sugar to do those sort of things. So I don’t think that is what really happened. So it was the broken pieces of Crunchie bars – and eventually Cadbury’s actually made special stuff for us because we were using so much of it, they put it in eleven pound bags and we bought it in pallet lots. When we bring on a new flavour we don’t know how it’s going to go, and so we didn’t get too excited about Hokey Pokey at the time. When the opposition saw that we were selling a lot of it they decided to have a go at it. I haven’t got a message for Tip-Top; they are the market leaders and they seem to have claimed that it was theirs since during the war, well I don’t know where they got their sugar from!”.

Hokey Pokey biscuits from a vintage Edmond’s Sure To Rise cookbook.

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It is a fact that during WWII years, that manufacturers were only allowed to use fifty percent of their usual sugar. On top of that, a 25% sales tax was imposed on products so many manufacturers such as Cadbury decided to cancel most of their confectionery lines and put all their sugar into chocolate bars for the war effort.

The earliest verification I have of Tip-Top selling Hokey Pokey are both in the 1950s, both in bulk, and in quart boxes. However the dates further than the general decade are not more specific. Brian Simon is described by a colleague as “a no-nonsense kind of guy”, and his account does sound believable. This could be backed up by Cadbury’s and other witnesses of the time if, indeed, any are still alive. By his account Crunchie Bars were on the market in NZ around in the early fifties, and they were being made from the late 1920’s in the UK first by Fry and then Cadbury Fry when they merged (and then Cadbury Fry merged with NZ’s Hudson in 1930). They were present in Australia by 1929.

Here’s the problem: Ted Barringer, who was sent from Britain in 1952 to work on sales and marketing, and eventually became managing director of Cadbury Fry Hudson for 17 years, specifically remembers working up the almost non-existent  novelty line and sending for the successful Crunchie recipe and process from J S Fry at Somerdale in the U.K., in 1955. By all accounts it was an instant hit in Aotearoa. Although the hand-cut method of production in New Zealand may have accounted for high breakage, they just weren’t being made before then. This probably puts Newjoy and Peter Pan back head-to-head.

It should also be noted, for the record, that Peter Pan first published their company history “Sweet Success” in 1997, a good twelve years before Simon gave his interview.

By the late 1950s to early 1960s Both Hudson’s and Griffin’s had their versions of Hokey Pokey biscuits, and Tip-Top had a Hokey Pokey TT-2, pictured here, exact dates for all are unknown – but it goes unsaid, way after the fact.

Hokey Pokey commemorated in a NZ Post “Kiwiana” stamp set of 1994.

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Nobody is going to challenge Tip-Top’s claim – and besides that “Hokey Pokey” is apparently not a registered trademark, to this day. They recently modified the recipe to use uniform honeycomb balls, from what was formerly known as “kibble” in the trade – reason being that the bigger chunks, created by hammering the toffee into pieces, would routinely clog the machinery. Combining two classics, they also released a limited edition Trumpet version - “Creamy Hokey Pokey flavoured ice cream with crunchy hokey pokey pieces, a caramel sauce centre and sprinkled with hokey pokey pieces and choc topping”, celebrating renowned Kiwi team the All Blacks, in 2011. Regardless of what Tip-Top do to it, they will never really make it their own – But besides that – evidence speaks otherwise to Hokey Pokey’s origins. Yet to materialise are dates and details that back up their implication as original creator.

There is at least the good beginnings of a story here, even if it’s one of those “ask more questions than gives answers” type of articles to start with – and hopefully more information will come to light in due course which will settle this mystery once and for all.

All content of Longwhitekid copyright Darian Zam © 2012. All rights reserved.

How It All Pans Out

In Blue Moon Ice Cream, cordial, Crystal Springs Aerated Water Factory, Dairy Products, Denne Brothers, Desserts, Fonterra, Frozen Foods, Frozen Vegetables, Hellaby's, Ice Cream, Pastry, Peter Pan Frozen Foods Ltd, Peter Pan ice cream, Rush Munro, soft drink, Tip-Top, Tokomaru Steam Engine Museum on April 9, 2012 at 10.46

This point-of-sale poster probably dates from the mid-late 1960s and was no doubt created for dairy (milkbar) promotion.

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Working on this project it constantly reminds me, as well as amazes me, that something that was so popular for so long – can seemingly disappear, almost without a trace. I also find it surprising that something that has been such a part of people’s lives – in this case a district’s main employer too – can fade from the memory so quickly and be forgotten within just a few years.

When you ask people about Peter Pan ice cream most of them remember it well. Yet it has taken me about a year to scratch together information for the story on the once renowned brand that shut up shop as late as the early 1980s; and although famous for their ice creams and novelty ice confections – it actually goes back much further than their two Waipukurau-based factories which were landmarks for many years. In fact the brand was started by T.C. (Thomas Clement) Denne who had quite a history in manufacture prior to that era. Actually, Denne Brothers started as a soft drink concern that went right back to at least the 1910s.

This painted tin sign probably dates from the 1950s.

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The Denne family originally hailed from Canterbury, Kent in the U.K., with T.C.’s second cousin William Henry Denne arriving to New Zealand in 1851; and T.C.’s father Clement Denne following with his wife Alice and one month old daughter Lucy aboard the “Wild Deer” – apparently in 1875. However sales records of 1873 clearly show they bought land so we can presume that William helped; he probably scouted and bought property for them at their request – or it was purchased on spec. The family settled in Mataura in the lower South Island, where we find Clement selling his land as well as a blacksmith’s business (his trade) by 1890. Several years later a smithy business in the same town is being advertised as ex a certain John Denne – perhaps Clement’s older brother (born 1829) who may have joined them and set up shop too – or just another error of details in reportage we so often encounter in newspapers of those times.

T.C was born in 1882 and apart from school notices where an Alice, Emily and Lottie Denne are also name-checked (likely sisters) the first mention of him in the media comes in 1897 when as a fifteen year old he was injured on the job in a rather nasty accident. Mataura was chiefly famous for their paper mill and still is – and it was here, presumably on his first foray into the workforce from school that T.C had his hand crushed and de-gloved between some rollers, involving skin grafts from other parts of his body to repair the serious damage.
By 1904 T.C. was located in Milton, not far from Mataura, as first secretary then later deputy bandmaster of the town’s brass band, performing with both Baritone and Euphonium Tubas. Music – particularly brass bands – was to remain a life-long love, and regardless of what lingering effects of his paper mill accident had – he did not let it hold him back in his endeavours.

This backlit perspex sign probably dates from the 1960s, likely for the interior of a milkbar or cafe.

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I believe his family probably remained in the Mataura-Milton area but we can conject that T.C. somehow moved into the cordial and soft drink industry gaining experience, possibly moving to another area on his way to the lower North Island. By 1915 he had appeared in Masterton where he had opened a factory with a depot at 169 Queen Street for both retail and wholesales; Denne’s Aerated Waterworks was producing aerated water, soda, hop ale, ginger beer, ginger ale, as well as sarsaparilla and raspberry cordials, and not long after he acquired modern technology and introduced his Fruity Lemonade sealed in a new-fangled crown seal bottle.
At the same time he was producing Denne’s Golden Malt Pure Table Vinegar from an Eketahuna set-up – and a later mention in a newspaper of 1919 states that T.C. Denne “was for some years in business at Eketahuna, and has been established in Masterton four years”.  So, likely that business existed for some time before the Masterton factory; and was perhaps dispensed with sometime after 1916 since there is no mention of it again that I can find.

Denne sells up in Masterton and moves on; Wairarapa Daily Times, 2 December 1919.

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Between 1916-1919 advertisements for Denne’s Delicious Drinks, as they were now being touted, make mention of Wairarapa as a “dry district” and he was marketing in both bottles and gallon jars the following refreshments- hop beer, dandy shandy, ginger beer, lime juice and soda, squash, and others. The Wairarapa electorate voted to ban production and sale of alcoholic drinks in their district in 1908, and this remained the status quo until it was overturned in 1946 so no doubt the hops ale, beer, and shandy although fermented – were non-alcoholic drink, and his move to the Wairarapa district may have tied in with this prohibition period since his strong ties to the Seventh-day Adventist movement would prescribe no alcohol and caffeine (note he also never seemed to offer cola drinks).
During this time he kept up his musical endeavours, having progressed to the role of conductor for both the Masterton Municipal Silver Band and the Masterton Central Brass Band by 1917.
In 1919 he quit the bands “for business reasons”, and then sold his Masterton factory to a Neil Wotton who renamed the brand Crystal Springs. A newspaper ad also shows him selling a motorbike from 270 Queen Street Masterton, perhaps an new or additional depot to keep up with demand, or- perhaps this was a domestic address.

Denne’s drink varieties for dry districts ; Wairarapa Daily Times , 23 December, 1916.

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By March of 1920 he had departed Masterton for good – being publicly presented with a silver engraved conductor’s baton as a goodbye gift – but where he went and what he was doing for the next decade is at present unknown. That is until he crops up in the paper as having started up a new company to manufacture cordials – T.C. Denne and Co, Ltd, in 1930 in Waipukurau – and the original factory (later known as the Peter Pan No. 1 Factory, unfortunately no images I know of exist) was established in Ruataniwha Street.


Tony Smith, Napier historian and collector says that there is information on Denne drinks that goes from 1938 back to 1926 that he knows of, and these one gallon stone crocks were issued in 1928 as well as 1930, but if that was in another location besides Waipukurau is unknown at present, and still leaves at least six years of the 1920s unaccounted for.

Soft drink and cordial business continued as usual until Denne started making ice cream for sale around 1938, not long after the tragic death of his first son John Clinton Denne in an accident at 22 years old, when his motorcycle hit a truck head on on a highway outside of the town the year previously. I think it’s an interesting point to consider that T.C. embarked on a major diversion from his successful tried and true formula at this time. It must have been a roaring success for by 1940 it had far usurped the drink business – so he let that go, selling that arm of the business first to a Stan Nickle, then Bert Anderson, and later D.H. Newbiggins of Hastings – according to Tony Smith, a Napier-based historian and collector who has been compiling a book on Hawkes Bay cordials, brewery and chemist bottles. I was able to find a Waipukurau based Bert Anderson who sung bass and baritone in bands so that would be the connection; but as for the other two names – no clues (Smith likely means E.J.D. Newbigin who was a well-known Hastings brewer and cordial maker from 1881). From the records it looks like Denne didn’t officially register the Peter Pan ice cream brand until 1946, however they likely started using the name much earlier than that.

The Tokomaru Steam Engine Museum have in their collection a 1937 William Sisson & Co. Ltd. (of Gloucester) model, bought from Denne Brothers, “acquired around 1967. It was going to be used as a standby generator if there was a power cut. I presume (they divested it) when the factory no longer had a need for a steam engine. As far as we know the Dennes never used it” says Esma Stevenson, curator. It must have been bought around 1940 when there was a decisive direction to go into the ice confection business permanently.
T.C. passed away in 1950 and it seems that his two remaining sons Tom Jr. (Thomas Vernon Denne 1917-1983) and Haydn ( an unusual spelling he adopted of his birth name Maxwell Hayden Denne, 1921- 2008) inherited the business. From then on it was known unofficially as Denne Brothers, and then later on as Peter Pan Frozen Foods. They well and truly took control and redirected the branding, and were beginning to expand and market the name with fervour.

This galvanized metal and wood, hand-painted  sandwich-board sign probably dates from the 1960s, for the side walk outside of a dairy, milkbar or cafe.

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There were two factories in the town that came to be known as numbers 1 and 2. Peter Pan No .1 factory was at 177-183 Ruawahine Street andthe corner of Cook Street,Waipukurau (now 2 Takapu Road). It was the original T.C. Denne & Co’s drinks building and was an expansive premises. This was where ice cream tubs and packs, waffle cones for the Trumpets and also for retail sale, and later in the early 1970s doughnuts were all made, as well as serving as “head office”. The offices and waffle-making room were on the second floor. The waffle cones were made for the Drumstick ice creams,  the slices, and they were also packed into boxes as their own individual product which were then sold throughout different shops says Pam Blackberry, who worked on that line for a couple of years in the late 1960s. This rambling establishment probably had many additions over time – records show a dispute that went to court with the local council over redevelopment in 1966. Haydn Denne lived in Cook Street opposite where No. 1 factory was until he passed away in 2008. You can see a photo of the factory in my previous post here:

http://longwhitekid.wordpress.com/2011/04/11/neverbland/

A reconstructed wrapper of the popular  Treasure Tip  – an ice block with a jelly baby in it. This dates from the mid to late 1960s and obviously the same artist that designed all the posters I’ve featured so far over the last year or so.

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Approximately a kilometre further away on Takapu Road, Waipukurau was No. 2 – which was focussed on the ice confections, and frozen foodstuffs arms of the business.

As well as ice cream produced in cones, slices, Drumsticks, and a variety of pint and quart boxes in flavours like Bonanza, Cherry Chequer, Vanilla Supreme and Golden Whip – Former employees of the early 1960s onwards remember in particular the highly popular novelties Nutty Cha Chas (ice cream dipped in chocolate with nuts), Pink Elephants (pink ice cream rolled in chocolate flakes), Tutti Fruttis, Jelly Tips (ice cream coated in chocolate with a tip made of jelly ) and the popular Jolli-Lollis “which was an iceblock mix in a sachet”, says Tony Dean. “The Jolli-Lollis were like cordial mixed up in big vats then pumped through a machine into the plastic sachets and sealed, then packed into boxes and frozen, and that is how the shops got them – this was the machine I worked at, The only time I ventured into the freezer was to put the boxes of ice blocks away once they got packed, and then it was in and out fast”, recounts Pam Blackberry. “(There was a) fear of being locked in those freezers!” remembers Hazel Hori.
The ice confections were produced specifically out of the No.2 Factory and some were the Lime Ice Delite, Fruit Salad, Peter-Cream, Red Rocket, Blueberry (blackberry and lemonade flavour), Scramble, Orange Sparkle, and the Dazzle which I posted on here:

http://longwhitekid.wordpress.com/2011/06/21/petering-out/

Margaret Gee was employed from 1964-1968. “I worked at Peter Pan for four years as a churn operator filling the moulds that were then placed into the brine tanks”. Tony Dean worked from the mid to late 1960s for several years and “from what I can remember the moulds in which the ice block shapes were made held about 20 items, and a stick holder was put in the top of the mould. The moulds were put in a tank of brine for about twenty minutes and when taken out were inserted in a tank of hot water for a few seconds to release the product; and were then put through the wrapping machine. The refrigerant used was ammonia”.
A Peter Pan specialty were novelty ice blocks with confectionery imbedded in them. Tony Dean recalls “the Treasure Tip, with a jelly baby in the tip – the jelly babies were inserted manually in each mould” – others were the Red Knight with a “Honey Bunny” and the Hello Dolly of the late 1960s had a “Dolly Lolly”.

http://longwhitekid.wordpress.com/2011/09/05/sugary-strategies-and-delicious-devices/

There were probably many more variations perhaps capitalising on popular culture of the time.

A reconstructed wrapper of the Jolli-Lolli  – an ice block sealed in a plastic sachet and frozen.

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By 1966 at the latest Peter Pan were producing frozen foods from the No. 1 factory , and Tony Dean remembers Peter Pan had a fleet of trucks to handle a contract to distribute frozen foods around the North Island for Hellaby’s (probably most well-known to Kiwis for canned corned beef), in particular – chickens, and frozen vegetables including peas. Posters advertising products of the mid-late 1960s show frozen flaky puff pastry on offer, and a range of ready-to-cook fast foods that were probably wholesaled to takeaway businesses such as spring rolls, curry rice rolls, steak cobs, fish cobs, chicken croquettes, and hamburger rolls (not bread buns – probably a deep fried meat filled pastry not unlike the Australian Chiko Roll, given the nature of the rest of the range they had at the time) . There was also a line of syrups for milkshakes, thickshakes and sundaes, probably also coming out of the No. 1 premises given the related products.

A reconstructed wrapper of the popular Pink Elephant  – a pink ice cream rolled in chocolate flakes. This dates from the mid to late 1960s.

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Tony Dean says “The Dennes were excellent bosses to work for. On Friday nights every staff member used to get 1 litre of ice cream and a pack of frozen peas, and at Christmas time a frozen chook as well”. Augustine Dunbar , who worked 1972-1974 also recalls “they used to give us 3 quart boxes on Friday (I’m not sure if she means three separate quart boxes, or the three pint box).
“I used to love eating the ice cream straight out of the churn before it went into the containers and freezers. Also the jelly babies, the chocolate, strawberries and peanuts before they went into the production line. It is probably one of the best jobs I had”, says Tony Dean. “Finger-dipping into the ice-cream straight out of the churn I remember (well), the foul smell of the chocolate melting”, adds Hazel Hori.
The company even had their own “Peter Pan Bus” that travelled to and from Waipawa and Waipukurau to pick up staff of a morning and drop them off in the evening. The Dennes were known as fair and generous employers; and so many people from the surrounding area were employed it was worthwhile. Hazel Hori who worked there between 1963-1965 remembers: “Many “Ypuk” (Waipukurau) people spent part of their working lives at Peter Pan factory. My dad Henry Munday worked at Peter Pan for many years, my mother joined the staff in the 1970s, my brother Eric worked there too for a time , along with me – during the school holidays packing ice blocks and ice creams” – it was almost a rite of passage to do at least a short stint there first before leaving the security of the locale heading out into the wide world.

Trucks outside the No.1 Factory in Takapu Road. The part of the building that is still standing today on a mostly vacant lot – can be seen behind far left.

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Trademark records of the early 1970s show product names Country Gold, Fudgsicle, Softee, and Captain Hook products were being manufactured as well as doughnuts being produced in the No. 1 Factory, as briefly mentioned earlier.
Although their father had passed away some time before and their mother Agnes in 1957 – the traditional family faith remained strong. By 1962 the Seventh Day Adventist movement, well-known for their involvement in food product (see my article http://longwhitekid.wordpress.com/2011/11/26/healthy-curiosity/ on Sanitarium) had made the move across the Tasman to the Hawkes Bay area and assumed control of two churches to establish themselves in the local vicinity. In 1965 the devout and by now, no doubt quite prosperous, Denne family donated land for a church and a two-teacher church school. T.C.’s grandson John Denne continues that religious inheritance and is a pastor in Australia.

This point-of-sale poster probably dates from the mid-late 1960s and was no doubt created for takeaway shop promotion.

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As for the mysterious Peter Pan parlour that nobody seemed to recall seeing – after writing to twenty or more people I received a reply from the Eketahuna Museum suggesting that the mystery store may be located in an enclave to the south of Waipukurau, named Norsewood, a Scandinavian-settled town established in the 1870s (hence the name). Since the Dennes never had any relation to this town that I know of – It still left the question of who built it, and more to the point – why? Doug Ellison, Caretaker at Norsewood Pioneer Museum says:
” It wasn’t specifically a Peter Pan store but it sold the ice cream which was just about all we could get (at the time) actually. It was originally just the usual country store, that sold the stuff that any grocery would sell. There was another dairy that sold Peter Pan but it didn’t have a big sign like that. The people that lived in the house did it up to look like the old store at the front, so it would resemble when it was a thriving business – which it hasn’t been for a number of years. I don’t know who owned it at the time. The house is now empty and the building is used as storage. I think it must have been someone from Dannevirke who did a bit of painting about the place to bring it back to what it was. The heritage signs were put around a few old buildings for our festival a couple of years back so that people knew what they had once been. I don’t remember any other (local) brand for sale in the area except Rush Munro, who had a place in Hastings, about 1000 Herataunga Street East – it was called Blue Moon (Rush Munro’s is still open at 704 West, and is arguably New Zealand’s oldest ice cream brand – I’ll post on this story later in the year).

The remaining part of the far left side of the Peter Pan No. 1 Factory on  the corner of Takapu Road and Cook Street, Wapukarau -which has now been somewhat remodelled. 

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John Denne, Tom Denne Jr.’s son was managing the business for some time, but left the town for good in 1971. According to records I’ve found Peter Pan was offering redundancy packages to employees at the end of the 1970s so they must have hit a spot of financial troubles, that or behemoth Tip-Top had stepped in and major changes were afoot. Most people seem to remember the factory being open until at least the early eighties when the rights were probably sold to Tip-Top.
Jan Gosling, one of the curators at Waipawa Museum remembers “when we moved to Waipawa in 1990 the old Peter Pan buildings were still there (in Waipukurau), with faded labels of the ice cream factory (on the walls) and it always seemed a little sad. It’s funny how when things disappear or change into something else you forget about what was there before”. Sometime after that they were demolished; “there isn’t much left of that (factory) now” says Pam Blackberry. The only remains I can spot are the far left side of the structure which has been somewhat remodelled and serves as the Hatuma Engineering Supplies premises.
The original Ruawahine Street No. 1 factory’s site closer to town is renumbered and the street renamed; and the allotment now has a new, one story building, the Central Hawkes Bay Health Centre, set back on the corner of it but is a mostly unobstructed tract of vacant land on the corner where the expansive buildings of Peter Pan Frozen Foods used to be a town landmark.

Mystery finally solved – the tribute to Peter Pan Ice Cream in the small town of Norsewood, was created for fun to replicate an old town general store that originally had a sign like this when it was operating.

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Although the brand name has remained in limbo for nearly thirty years with the trademark rights renewed to Tip-Top Investments as part of Fonterra Brands Limited, it finally lapsed and was cancelled at the end of 2010, bringing the saga of the  Peter Pan brand to a close for good. Not for me though – the story still has some gaping holes such as – how did Denne enter the business and learn his trade?, and what he was doing between 1920 in Masterton and 1930 in Wairarapa? I’m hoping that I’ll find out more so stay tuned.

As usual, I have a large rollcall of people to thank for memories, images, leads, information and tip-offs: Jana Uhlirova, curator, Central Hawkes Bay Settler’s Museum, Pam Blackberry (1968-1970) and Tony Dean (1966-1973), ex-employees of Peter Pan Frozen Foods; Andy May and Donna Gwen Hoby, one time acquaintances of the Dennes, Colin and Esma Stevenson, owners and curators at the Tokomaru Steam Museum, Doug Ellison, Caretaker at Norsewood Pioneer Museum, Tony Smith , historian and collector for information on Denne drinks, Brian Turner for image of Denne crock, Jan Gosling, curator at Waipawa Museum.

Bite Size: Hot Chips and Microchips

In Arnotts, Arnotts Biscuits, Aulsebrook's biscuits, Chips, Denne Brothers, French Fries, Frozen Foods, Frozen Vegetables, Iced VoVo, Marmite, Peter Pan Frozen Foods Ltd, Peter Pan ice cream, Sanitarium Health Foods, Snack Foods, Wattie's on March 22, 2012 at 10.46

Far out, even my plans to get ahead have fallen behind. My quickie post on Aulsebrook’s Iced Vovos versus Arnotts  at the end of February caused a storm in a teacup off-site. If you think that deconstruction was irritating, wait until I shatter your illusions on the history of Marmite and the perception of it as a New Zealand brand; you may be surprised to discover that technically – Kiwiana it sure ain’t. This week is really the perfect time to tackle it with the shortage furore going on, and cracked out New Zealanders trying to sell opened jars of it for up to two hundred dollars on Trademe, but I don’t have time to stop and do that too. (I’ll refrain from elaborating on delusion and stupidity of people trying to pass off trash as treasure in the collectables category, I think everyone knows my feelings on the majority of the traders that ply their utter rubbish on there for hiked up prices). Anyway that brief piece was meant to be a mid-week catch up to get me back on track to a post every week, that’s at least 48 posts a year. That’s actually quite a goal as it turns out – especially with my seeming inability to keep things both simple or brief.

As it turns out endless computer problems have kept me offline and out of the loop for the best part of a month. Yes, the house is very clean, and everything is organised, a sale pile has been created. However I am now more behind than ever! You can’t win. I’ve got big stories coming up on the Sunrise Cordials brand and the Gallien Chemist enterprise, and also the next, and most significant instalment of the Peter Pan Frozen Foods story.
Meanwhile, here’s another recreation I have done some time ago of the Wattie’s packaging I featured here in “So Cool, So Fresh” back in December 2011:

http://longwhitekid.wordpress.com/2011/12/13/so-cool-so-fresh/

I actually completely invented the cooking instructions text, because I can’t read it at all in the original photo. I tried to use current products as a guideline for accuracy. I’m trying to avoid posting too much more on Wattie’s, but it is one of the country’s all time biggest and most successful brands, so I guess that’s just how it plays out. I’ll be back in a few days with the Denne Brothers again, so until then.

Sugary Strategies And Delicious Devices

In Dairy, Dairy Products, Desserts, Fonterra, Frozen Foods, Ice Cream, Peter Pan ice cream, Tip-Top on September 5, 2011 at 10.46

I previously wrote about the Peter Pan brand initially here in April 2011 http://longwhitekid.wordpress.com/2011/04/11/neverbland/ and then here again http://longwhitekid.wordpress.com/2011/06/21/petering-out/ in June 2011.
Until now I have had little to work with, but today came some big breakthroughs on finding information – and it seems like the brand may have been around for quite a while before Tom and Hayden Denne became famous for their ice cream. Ah, the pitfalls of research. Time and again I’ve experienced that just one missing letter can make or break, when it comes to tracking down historical data. I guess it’s not my fault that I didn’t guess Haden actually had a Y in it since the information was passed from someone else who knew them both.

I’ll post some more soon when the dots are joined – but in the meantime , here is yet another poster I have recreated from the low res photos of the 1960s Peter Pan series that someone was auctioning off on Trademe a while back.
Peter Pan seemed to have cornered the market in kitschy novelty product in their day, and one gimmick was moulded candies ( “honey bunnies” and “dolly lollies”) impregnated inside the confection such as here with the Hello Dolly product.

A friend remembers having one of them as a child, recalling a blue-coloured iceblock or ice cream –  placing the time in the early to mid-1960s. In the case of this particular product and its accompanying promo material, it would have been produced to profiteer off the back of the movie starring Audrey Hepburn which was released in 1969.

More on the Peter Pan brand and my ongoing series of recreations later in the year.

Petering Out

In Frozen Foods, Ice Cream, Peter Pan ice cream on June 21, 2011 at 10.46

I’m going to have to reign myself in for a few months I think. I have been pretty obsessed with my new baby to the point I have prepared material for at least three months of posts. Which is lucky because I really need to be focussed on another project – a coffee table book and exhibition I have been working on for a long time. Things are really running behind and I’ve had the hard word put on me to start finalising things. So I need to train my concentration on that and bring it to fruition.


Because I’ve known that this was coming I’ve been studiouslyworking my way through recreating a bunch of Wattie’s can labels as far back as the 1930’s, Sunshine product packaging from the 1950s and 1960s, and – I mentioned this a while ago when I posted the article “Neverbland” on Denne Brothers’s ice cream back in April – on a series of Peter Pan product posters that seem to be circa mid to end 1960s.

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So here’s the first two I put back together from photos. They are kind of  kitsch, lurid and a bit naive – but that’s what appeals to me about them. These were the days when you had four screens and bright colours to make do with and get your message across as effectively as possible, and keeping that in mind lends them a real charm.

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I’ve messaged the seller a couple of times about the provenance but she doesn’t seem to be interested in answering me given that I am not handing over actual cash money for anything, so I do not have any back story on the ten or so designs.I can make an educated guess that they came from a storage area- perhaps a cupboard or attic space of an old dairy. I can’t see why anyone else would keep them. It’s clear they were all created by the same artist. However if it had been an archive from a marketing manager or commercial designer I conject there would have been a lot more material and a less random selection.


So who knows, but sometimes not having the answer is more interesting. Click on the Peter Pan tag to go to the original story on the company I posted a few weeks back.

(Note: hmmm, neither the category or tag systems I set up seem to work which is really annoying after spending a lot of time on it. Admittedly I am still getting the hang of the way the WordPress system operates. In the meantime go here for the previous Peter Pan article http://longwhitekid.wordpress.com/2011/04/11/neverbland/)

Neverbland

In Desserts, Fonterra, Ice Cream, Peter Pan ice cream, Tip-Top on April 11, 2011 at 10.46

From an original photo of a tin sign courtesy of Cheryl Kelly.

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This is one of my more recent purchases from Trademe – unused Peter Pan “Captain Hook” iceblock wrappers. (nothing to do with the ConAgra products “Peter Pan” brand which was involved in that nasty Salmonella scandal a while back).
The Peter Pan brand was started by the Denne brothers, Haden and Tom. Peter Pan products were once broad and included Icecream (cones, slices, pints and quarts); Novelty ice confections (such as the lurid post 1969 “Hello Dolly” with a doll shaped candy impregnated in the middle); Puff pastry and pastry products; Spring Rolls, Cobs, and croquettes masquerading as a range of “exotic Chinese foods”, and syrups for milk and thick shakes and sodas.

Both this and the cherry label below are from my personal collection.I’m guessing earl-mid 1970s, for these ones.

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There are records dating back to the late 1940’s, and the company prospered well into the late 1970’s when it seems to have hit some problems and many staff were handed redundancy packages. With a slightly revamped name, “Peter Pan Frozen Foods Ltd.” it seems to have continued on in some form until the late 1980’s.

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I would take an educated guess these were salvaged from the factory some time in the late 1970s-early 1980s. Cherry was a fairly unusual flavour then, it was considered more of an “American” thing along with others like blueberry and watermelon.

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To be honest I don’t remember Peter Pan products being around myself (it was probably more or less a geographical thingso didn’t make it to the upper reaches of the North Island), but obviously the company was well established and popular in it’s time with Barry Pulford remembering “…at 909 Heretaunga Street East, about 1966, there was a dairy next door to the Family Foodmarket Ltd where I worked after leaving Karamu High School. And next door to the dairy was the Blue Moon ice cream factory which later moved to Havelock North. Sadly the Blue Moon and Peter Pan brands of ice cream are no longer available but they were delicious“. From this we can assume that the Peter Pan factory was also in Hastings not that far away, indicated by Barry adding it into the description of the local area.

I still can’t track down the location (or figure out the purpose) of this Peter Pan parlour.

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Here is a photo of a building commemorating the factory and brand, although, probably a parlour and outlet in Hastings, as mentioned above. Now a Trompe L’oeil vignette rather than an open business, this apparently is not the original location, which was in Waipukurau and was still running, as we can see from this photo, in 1970 at that location.

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The No. 1 factory outside of Waipkurau on Takapu Road (it was then called Ruataniwha Street) and Cook Streets.This photo taken in 1970, and courtesy of Kete Central Hawkes Bay / the Central Hawkes Bay District Libraries Millenium Project and the  CHB District Settlers Museum.

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Unfortunately, apart from entries at the NZ Intellectual Property Office for the brand (Country Gold, Fudgsicle, Peter-Cream and Softee ) there is not much available information. However again like the “Buttermaid” brand (I posted on this in March), Fonterra aquired it as part of their purchase of Tip Top Investments Limited, where it has become “abandoned”, probably forever. So not much remains, except for a series of wonderfully kitsch and gimmicky 1960s posters someone sold off recently, which I’ll clean up and post later in the year when I revisit the Denne Brothers. Often I just can’t understand why, when something has been enjoyed by so many people for so many decades, it so quickly slips into obscurity.

Addendum: After writing twenty or more letters to individuals, in January of 2011 I finally tracked the Peter Pan “memorial” parlour to a small town of 300 or so people named “Norsewood” south of Waipukurau. Although not that far away in the scheme of things from the town where the factory was, it remains a mystery of firstly – who made it? And more to the point,why? Given that so far my research shows that the Dennes never had anything to do with Norsewood, I can only speculate that perhaps it was created by an ex-factory employee in memory of a much-enjoyed job?  I am sure I’ll be able to get to the bottom of this conundrum. 

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