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Archive for August, 2011|Monthly archive page

Tumbler For Ya

In ETA Foods, Honey, Kraft Foods, Sunshine on August 25, 2011 at 10.46

Advertisement  for Betta peanut butter, from January  1955 , publication  unknown

Mike Davidson is one of the better known Kiwiana collectors around or rather, he is one of the handful that choose to be known. As such, he actually shares his passion for collecting the genre with others . His moniker on Flickr is Kiwigame and you can see some of his collection of here.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/23778385@N07/

He also has a fairly extensive collection of New Zealand tumblers, specifically the ones that were printed with ceramic designs.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/23778385@N07/4862960186/in/set-72157624658220020

Plastic  tumbler  for Kraft  cheese spread, sold in NZ,  likely 1940s

Prior to the early 1950s, perhaps as far back as the thirties  there were some tumblers produced by Sanitarium and  Kraft, in colourful speckled Bakelite or plastic. They were seemingly an identical shape, bar the imprint on the base denoting the company.

From then onwards these glasses were produced, mostly by Christchurch’s  Crown Crystal Glass for Sanitarium, Chesdale, Kraft, Airborne Honey and Sunshine. Filled with product, often peanut butter, preserves and honey, they were to be reused, when the jar of whatever was in it – was finished.

Like so many accompanying gimmicks, they were issued in collectable sets to promote sales of the brand.  I do recall some of these from my childhood; I remember some of the Sanitarium bamboo designs in my grandparents’  cupboards. But I am sure that every house in the country had at least a couple so saying I remember them is stating the rather obvious; so ubiquitous were they.

Ceramic-print tumbler  for ETA peanut butter, sold in NZ,  likely late 1960s

Although clearly many more products than the few companies featured here produced glasses for popular and much loved Kiwi brands, Mike has focussed on the specifically New Zealand-founded companies. As it turns out the tumbler above ended up in Mike’s collection at auction close and he says “I found it interesting as it has “Auckland NZ”  printed on the label. Before I found this one it was assumed this series of glasses were completely Australian in origin due to the design on the glass being of Koala Bears and Australia having a long history of these glasses”.

It seems that at some point in the 1960s, likely 1962 – ETA opened operations in NZ, or licensed the brand to someone like Sanitarium. Without any public news archives available after WWII right now it’s really hard to get a picture of a lot of the history just from random ads or collectibles that turn up. I’m building a database of NZ brands, and according to what I have so far there were not that many peanut butter labels; Betta/ Sanitarium and  Tucker/Sunshine
were the main ones, and also McLaren’s which I know nothing about and may have been imported. I have ads for ETA from the 60s on. Definitely by the time I was young in the early 1970s they had a huge and well-advertised range of products in NZ.

Mike  has compiled a compendium on this page here:  http://homepages.ihug.co.nz/~pinwhiz/glassindex.htm

Bite Size: Piccin’ Bones

In Foodtown Supermarkets, Popcorn, Snack Foods on August 13, 2011 at 10.46


Not so long ago, I wrote in my entry about Huia Cheese “When Lactose Goes” https://longwhitekid.wordpress.com/2011/05/31/when-lactose-goes/ as following: “Sadly, sometimes my attempt to uncover information about a long-lost brand just simply reaches a dead end, before it’s even started”.

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Well, this one is really going to make that post look like a novel. What do I know about “Picanniny (sic)” popping corn? Just about nothing. I have searched high and low for any lead, and there’s nada. It looks like American food company Conagra (Peter Pan Peanut Butter, Reddi-whip, Banquet Dinners, Chef Boyardee etc) registered some trademarks here for popping corn but there is no further information as to dates or really anything that makes my antenna go up as to a relation.
I feel quite confident in saying that this product was not from the U.S., for Americans would not make two spelling errors in the word “Pickaninny”. Nor would they have tolerated such a grossly racist and offensive stereotype so late in the game – I stole this from the family kitchen in the late 1980s and I remember it was available at Foodtown supermarkets back to the 1970s. The design looks mid 1960s. I do remember that the packet was a thin clear plastic and how the colours were laid out more or less, which I have reproduced to the best of my ability. In fact “Picanniny” seems to be a particularly Australasian corruption of the word and Papers Past contained several images of Maori children labelled as such.

Auckland Star, 15 November 1897, page 3

I also found this; a Bycroft biscuit brand which I am sure is no relation yet it is spelled in the exactly same strange way. It seems, however, that “Picanniny Biscuits” didn’t actually stand the test of time as claimed since they were advertised for two years and seemingly disappeared after 1898; just a drop in the 90 year long history of that company’s life which ended with the birth of the heritage movement in NZ via the demolition of Partington’s Mill (you win some, you lose some).

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I recreated the graphic from a very shoddy copy on acetate, that I’d made twenty years ago obviously intending at some time do something with it …back in the olden days when I used to do everything by projector. I assumed I had probably kept the original packet but I haven’t seen it around last I sorted through my archives. There’s a chance I have and there may be some more information as to the manufacturer, but I think I probably just cut out the front panel. I won’t gripe again regarding lack of newspaper records post 1945, and just say C’est la vie, instead.

Update, late March 2015: I suspect that I may be onto something as far as Picanniny popping corn’s origins. As I theorised, I felt it probably was a Kiwi brand even though it was very American in appearance.
A few months back, this tin can for Fun brand popping corn appeared online. It was made by Fla-Va-Tru, a company originally based in Masterton that I’ve been aware of for a number of years.
They were most well-known for a host of exotically-named food flavouring essences from the early 1940s onwards, as well as chop suey sauce, icing sugar, maple syrup, and milkshake flavourings.
This is probably the earliest example I’ve seen of DIY popping corn. In the 1940s-1950s there were brands like Hi-Pop, Onehunga Popcorn, and Bango but these ones all appear to be pre-popped, most likely for cinema consumption.
It’s the graphics of the can that convince me there’s a connection – both style and colour convey that there is a relation between Fun and Picanniny. Well, I can see it anyway.

add to Piccaniny story Fla-va-tru  Popping Corn Matai Street MASTERTON  edit copy

Bite Size: Unfinished Project

In Biscuits, Chocolate, confectionery, Griffin’s on August 10, 2011 at 10.46


These glass slides were for sale on Trademe a few months ago, and I loved them – but firstly I couldn’t afford them. And even if I could the chances that the brittle, old glass would arrive to me in one piece was slim – given that just about everything sent trans-Tasman somehow gets wrecked, even if it’s something that is  seemingly impossible to break. Yes, New Zealand Post really are that bad.
I had a plan to try to get better resolution shots and offered to pay but first the seller ignored me, played dumb and then finally said it was too late – well of course it was by then.


I’ll skip briefly around the history of the brand here, because it’s another classic Kiwi brand with a story too big for this little post. Griffin’s started in Nelson in 1864 as a flour and cocoa mill. Business boomed; and the company expanded into biscuits and sweets  by the 1880s, made out of the raw ingredients they were producing themselves.

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By 1895 success was such that the company went public, and with a couple of bumps along the way, they are still going strong today.
Griffin’s stuck mainly to what they knew best – biscuits. Although they had a serious foray into confectionery that lasted many decades, it seems seem to have been markedly reduced by the 1950s in comparison to their cookie business.

I have seen these slides before and they are advertising printed on glass plates, often hand tinted – that were used in the movie theatres of yore to advertise businesses and products – before moving ads were common place.
I apologise the images are not good quality however if I recreated these properly I would be sitting here all week, and I won’t do that. I want to at least re-do the Milko candy bar one at some point in the future as it’s an appealing graphic and would look good as a poster.

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Nevertheless the images are quaint and good enough examples of how product looked and also that plastic packaging was being generously used a little earlier than you may imagine (I have images of cellophane packets and surprisingly, bacon rashers in what appears to be plastic vacuum sealed bags being marketed in NZ from the mid 1930s).


Griffin’s Round Wine, Malt Thins, Krispies and Gingernuts stocked on shelves at Woolworths, Panmure, Auckland, late 1963.

I have seen a similar style of packaging on their biscuits from 1963 in the photo above, but I reckon these slides are a little earlier. If I had to get it down to a five year time frame I would guess 1958 to 1963. Given that I’ve found a reference to a commercial in the New Zealand Film Archives for Milko Bars selling for 6D as in the slide, dated 1961, I’m going for 1959-1960… because if they had a commercial, logic deduces that they would have been using that instead of these, would they not?

Photo of Woolworths courtesy of and  © Degilbo (Lance Bates)  http://www.flickr.com/photos/degilbo_on_flickr/sets/72157622925317144/with/4154579333/

Bite Size: Blossom Dairy

In Anchor, Butter, cheese, Dairy, Fonterra, Goodman Fielder on August 8, 2011 at 10.46


The Anchor brand was born in 1886 in a dairy factory at Pukekura, created by Henry Reynolds who arrived from Cornwall in 1868. By the 1880s he was dairy farming in the Waikato and established a small dairy factory. The brand name was allegedly inspired by a tattoo on the arm of one of his workers. It has become one of this country’s longest-lived and best-known trademarks – for cheese, dried milk and yoghurt products, and even at one point dried fruit and baking powder – as well as the famous butter.

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A highly innovative and efficient approach, based on farmer-owned co-operative companies, enabled dairying to grow into New Zealand’s most important industry. The production of butter and cheese flourished and by 1920, there were 600 dairy processing factories throughout New Zealand of which approximately 85% were co-operative-based.

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anchor-butter-card-poster-smaller
The milk brands from the New Zealand Dairy Group, the original long term holders, is now owned by Fonterra, which owns, well- just about every brand that Goodman Fielder doesn’t have, it seems. So it’s fitting that GF own the butter and cheese brands. Ah, butter and cheese….Fonterra and Goodman Fielder. You know what they say about the lesser of two evils.

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Two of these cardboard point-of-sale posters were listed on Trademe last week and I’ve recreated it from a low res snapshot. I love the strong, clean graphics and bright colours. Anchor is yet another iconic New Zealand brand with a large story which I will no doubt take up again at a later date.

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Bite Size: Game On

In Four Square Supermarkets on August 5, 2011 at 10.46

4 Square was a significant chain of grocery corner stores amongst the earliest of them, and can likely claim to be the first to offer self-service style shopping in the history of the country. Although product under their own brand was on shelves by late 1924, the company wasn’t officially formed until 1925 – with its branding as we now know it following in 1929.

I have previously posted on the topic, albeit briefly, in the early days of this blog – and there’s plenty of material so I will be adding some information in further posts as I cover the different versions of this novelty item I am featuring here. I am trying to post them in sets of four cards as I digitally repair them. This one amongst many advertising gimmicks the company issued; there was also a board game and colouring book.

I have seen three or four versions of this Snap set promotional gimmick; one dating from the late 1950s (very hard to acquire), one from the early 1960s (which I have just purchased and am waiting to be delivered into my hot little hands) and this one which likely dates from the late 1970s. It’s a really good snapshot of what products were on offer during that era, and I remember them all.
New World were a big chain of supermarkets from the early 1960s which are still around today, but I’m not sure what CPS is, I’ll need to do some more work on that. I’m also not clear on whom acquired whom at this point.

PS. apologies for the crappy image of the box; my set came without one, and this was the only picture I had stashed away.