Archive for February, 2011|Monthly archive page

Snap ‘Em Mall

In Food Fair, Lynn Mall, Rendell's, Wattie's, Woolworths on February 20, 2011 at 10.46

I happened upon this extraordinary set of photographs on Flickr this week.

They are so for two reasons: Firstly because if you are searching for this genre there is certainly enough of it; although almost without exception, all of the material is American.

Secondly, I remember it well. How often can you say that? “I remember it, because I was there”.

New Lynn was near enough to the family home , but still far away enough that it was still a bit of an “outing” for special requirements. Seeing photos of it – boom! – instantly transported me right back to shopping with Mum alone in too tight toddler shoes; and then later when my sister was added, her and I chasing each other around amongst the huge plant pots in the ubiquitous “modern age finish” of the bleak, pebble encrusted courtyards. And amongst the shelves and aisles of Woolworths to keep ourselves entertained, probably knocking things to the ground with our antics, to disapproving result.

The photographer has enjoyed the medium as a hobby for over 55 years without any formal training. ” These are Images of Woolworths Stores in New Zealand I worked at, or visited.The Lynnmall photos were taken night before official opening in 1963.This was a big event in Auckland, as it was the first regional shopping centre in New Zealand (this was six years after the first one in Australia opened at Chermside in Brisbane). I worked on setting up the store here, then three months later came back from a stint with Woolworths in Australia to manage the Food Fair in Lynnmall. there are probably thousands of occasions where people have captured similar moments around the world. The photos, most likely, get looked at, put in albums or boxes and stored away. If only they would dig them out and add them to a service like Flickr –  just brightening one person’s day would be worth the effort “.

Well, to me this series is an incredible documentation, especially for more personal reasons than others. Brighten my day it did. It’s the kind of stuff I often think “I wish someone had taken photos of something like that – but they never do…” and then, what do you know. Thank god for people with cameras at the ready.

I love to zoom in and look at the designs of the packaging, most now long gone. Here is a digital recreation of a can label I was able to make from the almost indecipherable image of the Wattie’s product stacked on the shelves in the store over to the left in the photo above. I also recreated the POS cardboard display. I’m not sure about some details such as the medallions on the can, but I was able to work with details from another 1950’s can label and photos I’ve collected.

ACheck out the full set here. Thanks to Degilbo for use of the images.

watties lynmall POS mint cropped watermarked copy

Note: Due to repetitive theft by those who take my intellectual property from this blog without my permission, and reproduce it as merchandise for sale on sites such as Ebay, Redbubble and Trade Me,  I have now watermarked this image. If you are interested in purchasing merch of this image you can head to my personal Redbubble store.




You’ve been SnackJacked

In Chipstix, Jack's Snacks, Reid Foods, Snack Foods on February 12, 2011 at 10.46

This bag came up on Trademe quite some time ago, perhaps as long as three years. I remember it from my childhood around the mid 1970’s although the design was already pretty dated then. I bid and lost the auction, but I kept the image intending to eventually recreate the graphic, which I have done here.

As usual, curious, I started researching the brand and company and I am afraid to say that this time I have turned up zilch. I just can’t find any information on Jack’s or Reid Foods in New Zealand at all…

however I did run across this, which is interesting. It is a POS from the very extensive collection of Dan Goodsell, artist and creator of the Mr. Toast character. A Flickr “pro”, his images number over 7,500 and most of that is vintage packaging from his collection, making him one of the biggest authorities on the genre.

There are many points about the branding that make it clear there is some relation – the name, the colours, font and layout – It’s really the same logo except instead of the human chef it had a bird wearing the hat. so I asked him what he knew of it.

“I think Jack’s was a 1950’s local California Chip company. Probably it has no relation to the New Zealand brand. Most of the US potato chip brands were just small local manufacturers. Only later in the 1960’s and beyond did larger companies consolidate and take over or push out the smaller guys. So I would guess it is no”.

I wonder if it was made legitimately under a licensing deal? or just “ripped off”? Dan’s answer makes me think that it was very closely inspired… lifted,…well let’s just call a spade and say it’s been jacked, figuratively speaking.

In my Google travels I located this company in Costa Rica that is still making a product called “Jack’s” today. Interesting how similar the logo is….what do you think? I’ll stick with the “appropriated” scenario in both cases! I am sure eventually more information will turn up but until I am delivered more clues by the research gods, I’ll just have to be satisfied with what I’ve got.

Check out Grickily’s (Dan Goodsell) photostream on Flickr here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/60585948@N00

Pie In The Sky

In Fast Food, Foodtown Supermarkets, Georgie Pie, McDonalds, Progressive Enterprises, Tom Ah Chee on February 3, 2011 at 10.46

Georgie Pie was a fast food chain owned by supermarket operator Progressive Enterprises, that hoped to be “New Zealand’s own home-grown alternative to the global fast-food giants”. It didn’t seem quite like McDonalds, and it definitely wasn’t your local bakery. Like the ad, the brand always seemed a bit “mock”. The commercial kind of gives me the creeps, which isn’t helped by the mournful reminisce of the faux Carpenters track, which always undoubtedly makes the mind’s next pitstop depression, pill-popping and Anorexia…not conducive to tasty pie promotion in my mind.

The first restaurant was opened in Kelston, Auckland in 1977 (this was the one local to where I lived as a child). In its short lifetime of just over twenty years, Georgie Pie achieved a number of firsts in New Zealand – first “Drive Thru”, first Breakfast, first 24 hour opening – and undoubtedly the first local brand to seriously challenge international fast food chains.
The overhead costs could only be offset by increasing production via the opening of more outlets and by increasing supply in various ways. The decision by a short term CEO not to continue with expansion spelled demise of the brand. This decision was based on his view that pies were unhealthy and demand would diminish. The brand was sold off to McDonalds, and by 1998 the last store had closed. RIP, Georgie Pie.

A Facebook campaign calling for the return of Georgie Pie gained 35,000 members. On September 28, 2008, the proponents hired a Christchurch bakery and temporarily converted it into a GP restaurant selling original recipe pies. It was extremely popular and sold out in an hour. This was done for a documentary that the students are making titled “Bring Back The George”. Predictably, McDonald’s threw around a few lawsuit threats over copyright infringement during the revival of interest and then announced they were looking into relaunching the brand. In a typical case of “If I can’t have it then no-one will”, this hasn’t happened of course – and the brand languishes, unjustly relegated to history although the market clamours.