longwhitekid

Reconstructing Wall’s

In Apefruits, Birds Eye Frozen Foods, Birds Eye NZ Ltd, Crazy Joe Cola iceblock, Frozen Foods, Ice Cream, Rangitaiki Plains Dairy Company, Sno Frute, Street's Ice Cream, Tip-Top, Unilever, Wall's ice cream, Wall's Ice Cream Ltd on September 9, 2012 at 10.46

Originally a British brand, Wall’s started in Acton in 1922 and the business was such a success that by 1959 production had doubled and a large factory rebuilt in Gloucester. I would conject that the brand came to New Zealand soon after that – probably in the very early 1960s under the auspices of Unilever. I really don’t have that much information on the history of the brand in Aotearoa. Kiwis hold these sort of  brands dear via fond memories of something they grew up with – yet the story didn’t really happen here; like many foreign concerns such as Cadbury’s that wheedled their way in to the marketplace via franchises or mergers – basically they just arrived and kicked some eggs out of the already-established nest, so to speak, to make space for themselves.

The first real records I have of specific products are Tahitian Delight (1961) and Sno Frute in flavours big orange, big pineapple, and big pink lemonade (probably late 1960s).
By the early 1970s the brand is being marketed under the auspices of Birds Eye Frozen Foods NZ Ltd, a Unilever subsidiary which was present in New Zealand from 1947 – having Wattie’s produce their frozen fruits and vegetables for them under the Birds Eye brand, which I previously mentioned here in December 2011.

By the early-mid 1970s I personally have memories of the Woppa in blackberry banana flavour (I have recreated all the flavours that I am aware of, but I’m sure there were more over time). I also remember having Tornadoes and boysenberry Splices – but I think most people will be familiar with the very popular “Crazy Joe” character which they used for a cola flavour popsicle (or “iceblocks” as they were commonly referred to in Aotearoa) – he was also used in Australia and the campaign was pretty much identical from what I have seen. A big thing at primary school in the mid to late 1970s was the Apefruits range, based on the sensational Planet of the Apes hit TV series and the ice novelties came in flavours like Orangutang, Chocanana, Jaffanana, and Gorillaberry with a matching sticker set to collect (now competitively pursued by collectors).

The brand pumped out novelty lines with no stopping through the 1970s and some of the names for products I have run across are Daisy, Spider, Sundowner, Fizzbang, Goblet, Weird Wolf, and Witchy Goo – specific years unknown.
Wall’s Ice Cream Ltd it was purchased and run by the Rangitaiki Plains Dairy Company circa mid 1970s , for a brief period of time.

By the very end of the 1970s, the business been snapped up by that great subsumer of all smaller ice cream brands, Tip-Top – and seem to continue through the eighties to the end of that decade with products like Star Trek in1982, The Goonies in1985 (both based on the hit movies of the moment), and an America’s Cup “KZ-7” novelty in 1987. Presumably by the end of the decade, the brand was dismantled.

I recreated the Woppa labels and the poster from different lots that have been sold on Trade Me over the years. In particular the wrappers were terrible quality and quite a feat, but not the hardest thing that I have done over the last couple of years by a long shot. The flavours of the Woppas sound absolutely mouth-watering and I could have one now!

It looks like the brand in Oz was eventually subsumed by Street’s Ice Cream (obvious from the logos I have seen). However Wall’s products, still based in the UK , continue to be made today – apparently still a market leader with some products. It is still owned by Unilever in Britain and is now truly a global brand, just no longer in Australasia.

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The Woppa poster is available from my online store along with lots of other things. Greeting cards are a great deal!

http://www.redbubble.com/people/darianzam/works/9331906-walls-woppa-poster

http://www.redbubble.com/people/darianzam/works/9332116-walls-woppa-card

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  1. Correction: Rangitaiki Plains Dairy Company – I worked there in the ’70’s, including time at the small Walls ice cream factory in Papatoetoe – still have a couple of Walls posters for a stick product called “Wierdo”. I’m currently working on a brief history of ice cream in New Zealand, so am enjoying your research.

  2. Thanks Chris, I have corrected it. How interesting, the New Zealand Ice Cream Manufacturers’ Association mentioned that they are doing something, are you working on it with them, or is it your own project? Cheers.

    • Yep, that’s the one I’ve been working on. I’m a food technologist, initially worked in product development at RPD, on cheese, ice cream, and frozen desserts. RPD owned three ice cream businesses back then, La Grande in Wellington, and Fiesta in Auckland, as well as Wall’s. They were the first dairy co-op to look to diversify into consumer brands, but the rest of the industry (pre-Fonterra politics) didn’t appreciate it at the time, and pretty much forced them out of it. Then I worked 15 years in food ingredients, supplying and providing technical support and training into the ice cream industry. I’m still involved, to a much lesser degree, helping to look after the NZICMA website, and sites for a couple of US-based ice cream consultants. There are a couple of people floating around who probably remember more than me about the Wall’s NZ story. My memory is that Unilever purchased Streets in Australia as a going concern way back, so I suspect that the Wall’s brand was never used over there. Cheers.

  3. Very interesting personal history, Chris! Maybe I can update on the Wall’s story some time in the future.. In the next few months I have stories coming up on Snowdrop, Tip-Top, Sunshine and the final story on Peter Pan. The article in short form is being published in the first 2013 issue of New Zealand Legacy, and some time mid next year I will publish the full story here.

    • The NZICMA history of ice cream in NZ will not go into the sort of detail that you have in your research, but I’m thinking that we should append a set of links (references and related sites) for those who want to find out more – would it be OK to include links to your blog entries on Tip Top, Peter Pan, Snowdrop and Wall’s? I have one of those Snowdrop packs myself, but know nothing about the company, so look forward to seeing what you’ve found out..There are some great stories to be told in the ice cream business – like me, you seem to relate most to the old North Island brands such as Tip Top, Peter Pan and Blue Moon (I remember talking to Hadyn Denne on the phone back in the ’80’s, but not sure if I ever met him). For me, Rosco (Hamilton), Meadow Gold (Papatoetoe), Gaytime (?), and Rush Munro’s also have special memories – and Eldora from Devonport (I live just a few blocks away from the old Eldora factory, still standing). If you ever want to look at some of the Southern brands, you should talk to a couple of the old-timers from down there – they have some great memories.
      Anyway, yell out if I can help, and keep up the good work!
      Cheers

  4. Absolutely, please do link to any or all of them if you so wish. The full Snowdrop story is pending approval from the interview subject and could be a few months, although it is fascinating to hear a real story with details of how a brand developed, and how products were actually made back then before all the technology there is today like continuous churns and what have you. I was under the impression that Blue Moon was a Rush Munro brand. Thanks for the tips,Interesting you should bring up Meadow Gold, I have been looking into that and have come up with next to nothing although the claim is that it was an important brand for a specific reason. I have a question about that but I will email you privately.

    • Frozen Products Ltd (a public company) owned Frosty Jack Ice Cream Ltd and Meadow Gold Ice Cream Ltd. Frozen Products was sold to the Vesty family ( frozen meat and Blue Star shipping co etc) around 1966. They then sold it to Uniilever around 1967 who then changed the brand of the products to Walls. The two factories were in Palmerston North and Papatoetoe. Lew

  5. W S Dustin was my great grandfather

  6. OK! Have you seen my post on Dustin’s (not a very good one really). Do you know anything about White’s who bought the Buttermaid brand in 1930 off the Dustins? Not sure what happened to it from then on. I think that General Foods later acquired it. I remember Buttermaid Pastry from the early 1970s but I think it was around in the late 1950s with the classic smiling Dutch girl on the packet, the trademark was registered about 1959. Cheers

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