Archive for October, 2012|Monthly archive page

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/


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.


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:


“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.


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


 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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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


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”.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Bite Size: The Scoop

In Beauty ice cream cones, Ice Cream, Icy-Slice wafers, McNiven Bros (New Zealand) Ltd, McNiven Cones on October 3, 2012 at 10.46


Fellow researcher slash historian Lisa Truttman of Timespanner was kind enough to have me in mind and snap this on her archive travels – and send it over, thinking I may like it. Well, of course she was exactly right. The advert is from back of a 1930s era Henderson Primary School anniversary booklet. I’ve colourised it from the original, which was just black and white.  I’d never heard of their product before, but I was immediately able to find a few things on this, as opposed to often finding nothing.


It’s pretty rare to find an ad for this type of product, which more or less amounts to a component for another. Generally you’d expect to see this sort of thing in an association trade magazine, and that’s about all. The McNiven Bros (New Zealand) Ltd opened for business in 1927. Whether their building was always in Khyber Pass I don’t know, but records show that it was in situ by 1929 on the corner of Huntly Avenue.

Looking north along Khyber Pass Road from  around the corner of Huntly Avenue, 1929. Image by James D Richardson, courtesy of Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 4-1847


It seems they were around until about 1952, but I don’t know why they closed their doors. It wasn’t that far off the period where cones as a product per se began to popularize on the first supermarket shelves in the late fifties to early sixties – My conjecture is that it had much to do with the rise in popularity of home entertainment – meaning television. Maybe if they had hung around a bit longer and reconfigured, who knows what may have happened.

Counterfeit wafers: Auckland Star,  January 1932


There’s so many reasons why products and brands disappear. Sometimes the instigator retires or even dies, and the descendants aren’t interested in the family business; there’s no succession planning. Maybe it gets driven out of the market by competition or changing markets. Perhaps it’s sold to another bigger company who make a failure of it, or just subsume the market share. Anyway, at a quarter century they did pretty good for a business specialising in just one product.

Looking north along Huntly Avenue from Khyber Pass Road, 1929. Image by James D Richardson, courtesy of Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 4-1848


They dealt in different types of cones, cups, and wafers only, not ice cream, and no other baked goods that I’m aware of. Apart from their “Beauty” cones, They made one called an Icy-Slice, presumably wafers for ice cream sandwiches. Interestingly, the only other time I’ve ever heard that name was when my Nanna, who had a dairy in Browns Bay in the 1950s, used to make us her ice cream sandwiches – that’s what she called them – Icy Slicies. I’m placing bets that it was a generic name that stemmed from the widely used McNiven product.

Farm food: Auckland Star,  August 1930


Amazingly, in such a busy industrial city district, the building is still standing today. It’s more or less the same as it was in the 1930s – bar a coat of paint and suitable “showroom”-style windows befitting a motorcycle dealership, which is what it serves as now. I wonder if they know that the only kind of “Belly-Shovers” that used to be sold from these four walls held scoops of delectable creamy stuff?





The Packaging of Progeny: Wattie’s Baby Foods

In Defiance, Farex cereals, Glaxo Laboratories (NZ) Ltd, Heinz, Joseph Nathan and Sons, Robinson's, Sir Frederic Truby King, The New Zealand Plunket Society, Wattie Cannery Ltd, Wattie's, Wattie's baby food, Wattie's junior food, Wattie's-Plunket Society baby food on October 2, 2012 at 10.46

Wattie’s baby foods can labels over a number of years, from top: 1968-69/1972-73, 1966, 1968-69/1972-73, 1968-69/1972-73, 1958, 1966, and 1968-69/1972-73.


I realise that I have done probably ten or more posts on Wattie’s over the last couple of years, and I still haven’t gotten around to a “definitive” one. Well, it’s on the list, with quite a few other things – believe me. There is a lot of ground to cover on that brand but today I am just going to focus on the ranges of baby foods that they did.
There were various Brands of what was considered “infant foods” in New Zealand in the early days which usually went in hand-in-hand with what was dubbed “invalid food”.
From at least the 1860s onwards the popular and long-lasting Robinson’s brand, most famous for their lemon barley water – produced barley, groats, and also a mixture of both.

A still from one of the early Wattie’s baby foods ads, late 1950s.


It wasn’t until the 1890s-1900s that the concept of baby food and infant dietary supplements became a trend and brands like Mellin’s, Benger’s, Neave’s, Nestlé and Virol cropped up and hung around for a few decades into the 1930s-1940s. By the 1910s- 1920s, baked rusks for teething were becoming a popular idea specifically marketed to infants.
Probably the most popular and long lasting brand of all was Glaxo by Glaxo Laboratories (NZ) Ltd, which was created and made in Bunnythorpe in the Manawatu-Wanganui region when Joseph Nathan and Sons founded the factory in 1904 (starting out as Defiance brand dried milk powder and butter).

Wattie’s first launched their infant food line in 1958 in direct response to the government cutting imports of this product by half. The company immediately responded to this opening in the market with apple, prune and meat-based meals. By the following year, the baby line had nine varieties and the junior line seven.
So this was not a new concept in new Zealand; food specifically for babies. I don’t know what other brands were being brought in previously- I am taking a guess at Heinz for one.However Wattie’s can claim the first domestically produced line.

Wattie’s baby foods advertisement from a magazine, 1966.


Recently I was lucky enough to get hold of a rare booklet that was issued to introduce it to consumers, well – the mothers of consumers really. It doesn’t seem that it’s early days of this product going in store because the range is quite expansive – yet it appears to be around time that the product was first being produced in glass jars in addition to the two sizes of cans – so I would date it between 1960 and 1965.

You can see a page from the booklet shows the entire list in the first range which was actually fairly large, and comprised of two lines: baby foods (strained) and junior foods (chopped, for more mature infants).
The New Zealand Plunket Society was founded in 1907 in Dunedin by child health visionary, Sir Frederic Truby King – to help mothers improve infant malnutrition rates and prevent disease. Wattie’s worked with them and gained their official approval for the product – which of course was an immediate success as a result.

The line was regularly revised, changed and added to over the years with the products being introduced in jars in the mid 1960s, shown here in the advert I recently purchased. I’ve recreated both the labels from it. I’m pretty sure I remember the labels and in other colours as well, such as pink and orange, from the early-mid seventies. But I haven’t come across any yet, or maybe I’m remembering it wrong. It took ages just to get hold of the artwork for the baby’s head and I was able to revise my earlier attempt at recreating it here in May 2011


which was probably one of the first things that I actually made when I started this project. Looking back on it now I guess it is pretty bad – but I did the best that I could of the time with little material available and the couple of collectors I approached about it – being difficult about even answering whether they had any baby food labels, like it was some kind of state secret. Anyway finally the problem resolved itself.

Wattie’s relaunched the range as “Wattie’s-Plunket Society” in 1990. Over fifty years strong, the range continues to be produced today and comprises of over eighty varieties in the Baby and Organics ranges as well as additional lines of Heinz Simply and Little Kids, and also Nurture formulas and Farex cereals. Wattie’s continue to work closely with the society and and have created the ForBaby project and website resource.

Wattie’s “Lullaby” advert for their baby food line, early 1960s


A still from one of the early Wattie’s baby foods ads, late 1950s.