longwhitekid

Packed With Good Memories

In Baking, baking nostalgia, Blue Bonnet, Blue Bonnet Jams, Butland Industries, Celopak dried fruits and nuts, Chesdale Cheese, Craig's canned foods, Craig's Jams, Crest Fine Foods, Dairylea, Dixibell margarine, Goldpack dried fruits, Goldpack Products, Heinz Watties, Kraft Foods, Red Cherrylike, Sir Jack Butland, Sunny Valley dried fruit, Tasti Products, Wilson Foods Ltd on September 3, 2012 at 10.46

Front of a box for preserved ginger, probably dates from the late 1950s-early 1960s. The design never really changed over the decades. 
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Goldpack is a brand I remember well from the kitchen of my Gen X childhood. They were a regular in our house, for my mum often used the products for baking cakes, biscuits and sweets – back in the day when mothers actually had time to do that… as well as everything else, unlike now.
I loved the packets, with the lush bright cherries and the old-fashioned, exotic design of the ginger box that never seemed to update its slogan on the side – “a delicious sweetmeat, and after dinner aid to digestion”. Of course people had long stopped treating the product as an unusual, interesting dessert on its own, except maybe on Christmas time platters.
Like most kids I was constantly cutting bits of the boxes out to use for scrapbooks, collages and stuff when they were finished with… or sometimes even before. Cue parents yelling “WHO has been at this AGAIN?”

Front of a box for dried apple slices, probably dates from the mid-late 1950s. The artwork matches a label for Crest canned pie fruit which was in production about 1959.
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These images were lent to me for use by an Auckland historian who had previously worked in the industry for quite a a number of years (first at Butland, then at Heinz Watties), saw the blog and contacted me to ask if I’d be interested in some of the things that he had. It’s one of those moments that you live for when you do this sort of work. So of course I immediately said YES, as I had been wanting to get my hands on these for ages. I sort of remembered most of these in the back of my mind somewhere but it was a bit blurry at this point in time – and I had been longing to see them and take a trip down memory lane. Just as when I posted on Jay Tee patty pans back in March 2011:

https://longwhitekid.wordpress.com/2011/03/12/in-my-cups/

the minute I clapped my peepers on them it was an immediate sensory journey back in time. That’s true nostalgia.

Goldpack cake fruit, 1945
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I found an ad placed in the Auckland Star of 1929 where Goldpack Products of Rutland Street, Auckland central are advertising for “two girls, about 18”, and also a “respectable youth wanted”.  proving that they were already established and had at least one product by then. Goldpack tinned pears were on the market in 1930 until at least 1933 in 1 lb and bulk 22 lb tins,  by 1932 clover honey was for sale in bulk, and also in 1 lb wax pots – and ginger also in the stores in two different size packets; and it’s only by that year that archive dates indicate that it was formally registered as a business. Goldpack as a trademark came much later in 1935, when according to company literature, preserved lemon peel and cherries were rolling off the factory line for the first time in addition to the other products .

In 1938 the first mixed fruit product sold by individual box came out. Jack Butland was one of only two agents in New Zealand at the time who exclusively imported Australian dried fruit (the only other contenders I can think of are Sanitarium, Tasti Products which was established in 1932 and still going today, or the popular Celopak range from Wilson Foods Ltd). The sultanas, raisins and currants (and probably everything else in the range) were supplied to businesses in bulk, which, before the days of widespread self service meant your goods were divvied out by the grocer at your order – the usual procedure of that time.

Through the 1930s, ads were placed to dispense of “oak barrels, ex factory, 25 gallons, suitable (for) brewing, any quantity”. These were clearly what the preserved ginger was imported in either in syrup and then crystallised in the factory, or arriving as is and sorted into packets. This one was placed in 1938.
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Clearly tinned fruit and honey dropped by the wayside early on in the game. In 1945 the business was still registered at Rutland street, advertised as “a new, light and airy factory” – but at some point it moved to the corner of Newton Road and St Benedicts Street, in Eden Terrace (perhaps while the new Rutland Street factory was constructed).

Front of a box for crystallised cherries, probably dates from the late 1950s-early 1960s.  
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I don’t think much in the way of new products was added to this roster until the 1950s when presumably dried apple slices were tacked on ; I have posted the box front here. The only other example I have ever seen is in the General Store collection of the Ferrymead Heritage Park in Christchurch.

Clover honey, advertised in the Evening Post,April 1932

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By the 1960s Goldpack was producing preserved ginger, maraschino-style cherries by the jar to cater to the era of the still-existent cocktail hour, cake fruit mixture and crystallised cherries. I have a record of mixed peel being added in the 1970s although no doubt it was introduced much earlier since it was considered a cooking staple.

This curry probably replaced the Crest brand, possibly late 1960s

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A stock list of the whole range in late 1988 shows glacé cherries, maraschino cherries, mixed peel, crystallised ginger, diced ginger, whole and broken cherries, cocktail cherries, and a product named Red Cherrylike, which I am advised was made from coloured Mangolds, something I’d never heard of so I went exploring and, well – I learned something new, which is, while akin to huge white turnips – there’s nothing uninteresting about them.

Ginger box, in 1987

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The Mangerlwurzel, also known as the Fodder Beet (and as the Mango in nineteenth century America) began to be cultivated in the 1600s to feed cattle in the winter. Tough and sweet, but not fibrous, they are ideal to cut into shapes which dyed and flavoured – serve well as a cherry substitute. Mangelwurzel Hurling competitions are an old British tradition ( which continues today in the village of Sherston). They are also traditionally used to brew an alcoholic beverage. Knowing what I do of the British I would say the former was invented after over-imbibing of that latter.

A very rough illustration of the  crystallised ginger box, nevertheless it clearly shows the earliest incarnation of this product, from a Farmer’s ad of November 1929.

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Front of cake fruit box, possibly early 1960s

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Mangolds (also sold as their own product, Red Cherrylike, in bulk) were used as a substitute in the cheaper brand of cake fruit on the market also by Butland called Sunny Valley which was packaged in a poly bag; and marketed under a subsidiary name to give the impression that Butland didn’t have a complete stranglehold on the premium market. Whereas Goldpack, considered the choice brand, always had real (broken) glacé cherries in the mixture and was presented in a cardboard carton.

Most of the Goldpack range from a salesman’s portfolio, late 1980s.

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The agency duopoly on Australian dried fruits imported into New Zealand finished up in the late 1960’s when three others were introduced. These, now five, agents split up the country’s market into wholesalers for which each could exclusively supply at the same fixed price. Peter Michel says: ”I was a salesman for Butland selling the dried fruit in the mid 1970s to the wholesalers and merchants around the North Island. I think that none of my customers from then exist now. It was a very cosy arrangement that would be impossible to replicate today”.

Cocktail cherries by the jar, late 1980s – although – this label looks like it had not been updated for quite some time.

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I remember Goldpack Indian curry powder, pictured here from the late 1970s or early 1980s. I don’t know if there were other spices and herbs in the range at that time besides this. This product would likely have been a way for Butland to keep their former Crest curry powder in the marketplace after they had disposed of most their other significant interests to rival companies (canned goods like Crest Fine Foods, Blue Bonnet and Craig’s; and dairy products including Chesdale, Dixibell, and Dairylea to name some of the huge ones, although there were many more small brands with one or two products in the lines such as teas, condiments, personal products, etc).

“Gold Pack” (sic) Bartlett Pears  for sale at Woolworths in a 1 lb size, Evening Post, June 1933.

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This mixed peel box was in use from the late 1970s-late 1980s.

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The Butland story is quite a big one as a major, innovative New Zealand foodstuffs company in the second half of the twentieth century, which I briefly touched on when I wrote a fairly “low fat” post on Chesdale cheese back in December 2011 here:

https://longwhitekid.wordpress.com/2011/12/06/an-elaborate-process/

and as such I will save it for another chapter later on, because I reckon there’s at least two decent sized articles on that topic.

This mixed glace cherries box was in use from the late 1970s-late 1980s.

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By the 1980s Goldpack had moved to a division of Butland’s factory premises in Penrose. Kraft bought the business, including Goldpack, outright from Butland in 1989; they had owned 49% of the company for the eight years previous. When the factory moved from 644 Great South Rd in Penrose to 16 Dalgety Drive in Wiri, Manukau around 1991-1992, the brand was discontinued for good.

Label from maraschino cherries jar,  dates from the mid 1950s.

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“Goldpack Supreme Pudding” and “Goldpack Christmas Cake” are recipes still used today that are based on the brand’s mixed fruit in particular; although of course the ingredient is now substituted. I wouldn’t call them Kiwi classics (yet) but it’s an instance of how a much-loved brand enters the common vernacular and lodges long after the product is but a pleasant memory of hours spent in warm kitchens making sweet treats for special events – or just for pleasure.

This ginger box features a competition in the late 1970s-early 1980s.

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  1. I worked for Butland’s in the mid-70s doing accounts work in an office full of characters. ‘Young Jack’ was the resident family member and personally handled every product complaint, of which Grizzlies about Goldpack fruit mixes (actually in some cases, coloured vegetable based) were most common. Every complainee got a personal reply from Mr Butland’s and replacement product with an apology.

    A long way from today’s impersonal call centre responses.

    A good company which made good products and cared about its customers. Gone, of course…

  2. Worked briefly in Butland’s office in the mid-70s on accounts where the characters included my Scottish boss, the financial accountant.

    Complaints were handled personally by ‘Young Jack’, the resident family member, whose wife was his PA, IIRC. Goldpack mixes were especially problematic but everyone who wrote in got a letter back and plenty of replacement product. No call centre robots in those days.

    A good firm which cared about product, reputation, service and customers. Of course, it is no more.

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