Archive for the ‘Canned Goods’ Category

Catching Up With The Kid

In "K", "K" Brand, Canned Goods, Centennial Kirkpatrick House, Kirkpatrick, S Kirkpatrick and Co Ltd, S. Kirkpatrick & Company on June 28, 2014 at 10.46

Kirkpatricks Nelson Melon & Lemon-Plum  jam Tin  copy

As I have passed the milestone of publishing one hundred articles quite a while back – I now find I backtrack on a regular basis to add interesting titbits as they come up. These may be things that I think will enhance a story I’ve previously considered I’m done with. This may be as new information comes in, or I run across relevant images – or perhaps a descendant or collector contacts me to offer something I may be interested in; data they have that fills in a gap in a story.

This week I’ve made small updates to quite a few previous articles with pictures and revisions, and these are noted at the foot of the article with an addendum.

Here’s several images of an incredible stash of ancient “K” products from S. Kirkpatrick & Co which came up for sale a while back. I am guessing these date from the late 1910s-through the early 1920s. It’s rare enough to find any labelled and unopened cans, particularly this old. I’ve maybe seen one or two from this brand over time. But a few at once? I was intrigued.

I contacted the seller to satisfy my curiosity and they explained that they were found stashed in an old, forgotten cupboard of a long-abandoned house they had recently acquired. I also contacted the buyer, wondering why someone I didn’t previously know of as a collector had bought them all in one go. As it turns out they are the current owners of the renovated Kirkpatrick House that I feature in my previous article – and have decided to collect anything associated with the former owners.

Most of the envelopes further down, as well as the ginger tin, came up for auction around the same time, albeit from a different seller. You can see the previous story on Kirkpatrick and the “K” brand  here.

Kirkpatricks Nelson Marmalade Tin  copy


Kirkpatricks Nelson Baking Powder Tin copy


Kirkpatricks Nelson Tomato SoupTin  copy


Kirkpatricks Nelson Cayenne Pepper Tin copy


Kirkpatricks Nelson K Damson Tin  copy


KirkpatricksTin tops copy


K Brand Kirkpatricks Ground Ginger Tin  copy


Kirkpatrick and co K brand Envelope Solpak apples 1940s edit


K Brand Tomato Soup, 1940 colour advertising cvrKIRKPATRICK  North Shore Stamps crop

“K” Brand Tomato Soup, 1940 colour advertising cover, image courtesy of North Shore Stamps.


Kirkpatrick and co K brand Envelope spagetti in tomato sauce  1940s edit


K Kirkpatrick Spaghetti with tomato and cheese 1945 NZ Bill envelope with advertising edit

“K” Brand  bill envelope with advertising, 1945.  Image courtesy of the Alexander Turnbull Library collection, ref Eph-A-FOOD-1945-01.


Kirkpatrick and co K brand Envelope baked beans flavoured with pork and tomato sauce  1940s edit


Other updates as follows:


The Creamy Dragon Strikes Again

Continental Love

Bite Size: Reconstituted Retro

When It Finally Dawns: Sunrise Cordial and The Galliens

Edible And Credible

Fruits Of Commerce: The Bountiful Depictions of Joseph Bruno Moran

Don’t Mess With The Classics

A Trail Goes Creamy and Cold

Man’s Best Trend: Commercialising Our Critters

Perfitly Preserved

In My Cups

Somewhat Wireless, But Not Brainless

Coupon Conquest

Projecting The Past

When Lactose Goes




All content of Longwhitekid copyright Darian Zam © 2014. All rights reserved.


A Sugar-Sprinkled Universe

In Canned Goods, Desserts, Frozen Foods, General Foods Corporation (NZ) Ltd, Ice Cream, Jellies, Jelly Crystals, Pudding, Sunshine, Sunshine Chiffon Whip, Sunshine Jelly, Tip-Top, Tucker, W.F. Tucker & Co, Wattie Cannery Ltd, Wattie's on June 5, 2013 at 10.46

Spacetaste 100 dpi 30 x 21 cm sml WATERMARK 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.

Here is a recreation of a cardboard point-of-sale poster that was sold on Trade Me a few years back, and I have redrawn it from a photograph that accompanied the auction at that time. I suppose it was intended to give housewives dessert ideas – hopefully prompted by kids pulled in by the space theme; a popular mode of advertising that more or less took over from aviation to up-sell everything from jelly to drinks to cereals, in the second half of the 20th century. I started this a couple of years back and it was when I was just changing over to using vector-based graphics so it’s a bit raggedy compared to my usual standard.
I’m taking a guess that this poster dates from around the mid 1970s, given what I know of the brands, products and logos – but mostly indicated by the font styles. Here we have three of New Zealand’s most enormous brands of the time – together in one advertisement, bouncing off each other in a friendly joust.

Sunshine Chiffon Whip (1963) W F Tucker edit copy sml

Advert for Chiffon Whip, 1963. The product was two years old at this point, and lasted well into the 1970s.


I’ve previously written briefly on the Sunshine brand here, and recreated jelly crystal boxes here, and here.

It was an Auckland-based company owned by W.F. Tucker – and in particular baby boomers will remember Sunshine well for their custard powder, jelly crystals and peanut butter which were very popular through the 1940s to the 1970s – although the company were around a lot longer than that and started using the Sunshine name as far back as the 1910s. The company did a variety of instant desserts and Chiffon Whip was launched in 1961 in flavours lemon, orange, raspberry, and eventually marshmallow.

Watties Sliced Peaches 1 lb Label recreation copy

This Watties design was on the shelves in the early-mid 1960s.


What else is there to say about Wattie’s? I know I’ve done more than several posts, such as fruit-related ones here, here, and here…and I keep saying I am going to get around to some kind of feature on what is probably Aotearoa’s biggest brand of all time. But lately I’ve been thinking …do I really need to? Books have been written and I’m not sure I have anything to add. It would depend on any new information I can scrape up. And quite frankly, looking at the archives there just may not be a lot of that – given that Wattie’s seemed to feel no need to advertise their wares or have any of their business reported on, until well after WWII, when part and full page ads for the product start to appear (I suspect their major contracts with the government suddenly ending had some bearing on this change). Apparently until that point they were so successful so quickly there was no reason to do so. Anyway, it’s a daunting task to consider writing a full article on this topic, and I guess if somebody really wants to know all about it – they could buy Geoff Conley’s book (1984) which is not that hard to find to this day.

watties can fruit -tip top ice cream - sunshine jelly sml

The original picture I redrew the poster from.


I have had a story half -prepped on Tip-Top for ages but again it’s a tall mountain to climb. However I feel there’s a lot of things that need to be set straight and expanded on. The most detailed article I have seen on the brand was a fairly brief and pretty stock standard issue from the PR department on the 75th anniversary of the brand, for one of those weekend-type magazines like Canvas – and I think quite inadequate given the iconic status of the product – and the archive of material they have at their disposal.

TIP TOP Classic  60's sign Double sided  Measures 460mm x 600mm EDIT copy

Tip-Top tin signage manufactured for dairies of the 1960s.


That’s all from me for this week. Come July it will be difficult to focus on this blog as I’ll be back to studying however you can expect briefer, probably picture-based stories and maybe some longer ones if I have time to finish up on them – the James Smith Ltd department store, Aulsebrook’s, commercial artists Alison Fyfe and Bernard Roundhill, and a couple of amazing caches of retro advertising and packaging stuff that have recently been found around the country.

All content of Longwhitekid copyright Darian Zam © 2013. All rights reserved.

Branded with a K: Kirkpatrick’s Canny Colossus

In "K", "K" Brand, Anderson & Son coffee and spices, Butland Industries, Canned Goods, Centennial Kirkpatrick House, Crest Fine Foods, David Owers coffee and spices, Denniston and Co, Duryea's Maizena, Faulding's, Frimley Foods, Frimley Fruit Canning Works, Heinz Watties, Henderson Sweets, Henry Jones Co-op Ltd, Imperial jam, IXL brand, jam, James Stedman, John Heaton Barker, Jumbo Baking Powder, Kirkpatrick, Nelson Jam and Fruit Processing Company, Playtime jam, Samuel Kirkpatrick, Sweetacres, The Nelson Fish Company, Thompson & Hill, Unilever, Wattie Cannery Ltd, Wattie's, Wheatena on August 17, 2012 at 10.46

It has taken me months on and off to find the material and finish off this recreation of a “K” jam label from a photo. Creating the fruit illustration was complicated and difficult. I believe it dates from the late 1920s- early 1930s.

“K” brand was one of the longest lasting, and most popular product lines to come out of New Zealand. You probably haven’t heard of it, and it is true that it has been long forgotten since it shut up shop at the beginning of the 1970s – but it lasted ninety years in the cupboards and on the tables of Kiwi households.

A later version of the label above, probably late 1940s-early 1950s era. Photo courtesy of  Trade Me member Shakaya. 

S. Kirkpatrick & Company was established in Nelson, “the fruit, hops and flower garden of New Zealand”, in 1881 where it came to be the most important business in the district – as its major employer. The firm’s biggest enterprise was jam, and following that canned fruit, vegetables and meat, and such was its impact – that it had a marked effect on the geographical nature of agriculture in the region, as well as other industries such as fishing. The business was quickly producing 1,000 units a day using up all those tons of pesky wasted fruit that local producers just couldn’t offload. It wasn’t long before the ‘K’ Brand of jam in its colourful label was recognised throughout Australasia.

Custard Powder and Egg Powder, Nelson Evening Mail, June 1905.

Samuel Kirkpatrick was born in County Down, Ireland, between 1853 and 1854, where he went to school in Newry. After graduating from Walton College, Liverpool he spent five years with a wholesale food merchant learning the ropes. Kirkpatrick then emigrated to the U.S. for some years – working for tea wholesalers in both Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. In 1876 his entree to future success came with his removal to California where he worked in two large fruit canneries in San Francisco (in what capacity this work was exactly, I am unsure).

Teenage workers stir jam pans inside the “K” Factory. Image courtesy of Nelson Provincial Museum, F. N. Jones Collection, Reference 6×8 29

Sources seem to differ on the date – but it seems Kirkpatrick probably arrived in New Zealand in 1878 and worked as a travelling salesperson for merchants and commission agents Renshaw, Denniston and Co, in Dunedin, through 1879. They sold farming equipment such as reapers and binders , as well as more workaday items from cornsacks to paint and wire. They were also agents for various loans, marine and fire insurance (the partnership dissolved by March 1880).

S. Kirkpatrick and Co. Ltd business letterhead, Courtesy of the Hocken Archives and Manuscripts collection, ref UN-023/144

However Kirkpatrick, with his experience in agency, sales, foodstuffs and the canning industry together had his sights set higher. He could see the raw potential of the Nelson area with it’s ideal fruit-growing temperament – and it wasn’t long before he contacted a group he had heard had a similar idea and were investigating the establishment of a fruit processing plant in the area.

“K” multi-purpose canned meat label, circa 1900. Image courtesy of the Printed Ephemera Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library, Ref Eph-F-MEAT-Gear-130

Kirkpatrick became not only a significant shareholder, but struck a deal to manage what was to be known as the Nelson Jam and Fruit Processing Company. He leased a former textile mill in Bridge Street as premises, from the Webley Brothers who had a company named ” Webley’s Nelson Cloth“. They had gone out of business due to competition amongst manufacturers and Kirkpatrick emptied the buildings offloading all the equipment to Kaiapoi Woollen Mills. Supposedly this occurred in 1876, but I’m guessing the date quoted is wrong, since firstly Kirkpatrick was documented working in the U.S. at the time, and also RD & Co were advertising sub-agent positions in 1878 – so that data seems to back up that he started working for them then – and not earlier.

He returned to Britain the following year to arrange the shipment of an entire canning plant to set up in the new factory . He brought back with him his aunt , and his mother who was now widowed.
From the 1880s a large variety of jams, conserves, jellies and marmalades were produced in 1 pound and 2 pound stone jars. They also produced the preserves in glass jars, perhaps a bit later on. In the 1890s preserves were also available in 1lb, 2lb, and 7lb tins and they added that Kiwi classic lemon cheese to the roster. They were also marketing coffee under their own company moniker – although generally they were using the “K” label for almost everything at this point.

“K” marmalade advert, New Zealand Illustrated Magazine, August 1903


Production had doubled by 1896, and the current factory buildings now being insufficient to cope with demand, Kirkpatrick purchased land at the corner of Gloucester and Vanguard streets for a new factory – in which he installed the most modern and efficient machinery and fittings of the time. His marriage of this same year lasted a very short time when his wife died from Tuberculosis by 1899. However at this point he was buried in work – with significant expansion of the buildings constructed to accommodate rapid growth, the company now had “the largest wooden building in the colony” and its own can making and printing plants – each can that came out of the factory was made and labelled by hand. Eventually the premises covered about 30,000 square feet.

“K ” Brand jam jar, date unknown – I am guessing 1920s. Photo courtesy of the Mataura & Districts Historical Society Incorporated collection.

The company now branched out into coffee under the ” K” brand as well as spices – having bought the business of Anderson & Son, Wellington. “Jumbo” was a Kirkpatrick baking powder label of the 1900s that was acquired as part of the package with the Anderson transaction – who had previously sold the patent, trademark, and all the machinery to a coffee and spice merchant David Owers of Timaru in 1893. Somehow it made its way back to the original owners who sweetened the deal by including it, however even though heavily advertised by the end of the decade it seems to have been dropped from the list of products.

 Competition campaign by the Charles Haines agency, Hawera & Normanby Star, March 1923


The business continued to grow rapidly and by 1901 the factory was employing 60 individuals full-time just in the off-season – and double during the busy period. Kirkpatrick had a concern not only with hygiene, but with good working conditions for his employees – which earned him great respect. “It is an interesting sight to see thirty or forty girls, neatly dressed, and in harmony with the general cleanliness of the whole establishment, picking and sorting the fruit with a quickness, which to the uninitiated must seem incredible. A happy feeling evidently exists between the girls and their employer, to judge by the contented faces the visitor sees around him”.
Kirkpatrick was described as a neat and “dapper man with a retiring disposition”. However for all his concern of his workers and their comfort – as well as his receding temperament it seems he was near in matters of quite insignificant things, and had no hesitation to voice his concerns; There is a letter in existence from Kirkpatrick written in 1917 when he was no doubt already rich. He writes to a handkerchief company complaining that there were only eleven handkerchiefs in the pack of twelve that he purchased and could they please reimburse him or replace the missing one.

Advertising for various “K ” products, date unknown but likely late 1890s-early 1900s. Note missing text which probably said “your grocer sells them.”

Now with a large range of preserves, canned fruits, vegetables and meats (including pig’s feet in jelly, lobster, brawn, Irish Stew, ox and sheep tongue, Scotch haggis, boiled fowl, and curried rabbit to name a few) – In the decade of the 1900s the product range expanded in a massive way as follows: fruit mincemeat, honey, raspberry and table vinegar, pie fruits, poultry tonic, salad cream, tomato sauce, “K” Sauce, mushroom ketchup, pickles, condiments, curry powder, custard powder (six flavours), baking powder and egg powder, bird seed, Wheatena (presumably a product similar to Maizena and Creamota, to be used for both cooking and breakfast cereal) plum puddings, potted meats, ground rice, pea flour , pea meal and wheatmeal, linseed, arrowroot, spiced sausage flour, icing and castor sugar, desiccated coconut, cream of tartar, bicarbonate soda, citric and tartaric acid, carbonated ammonia, starch glaze, pickling spice, beef tea, dried herbs, hops, pickles, and boracic acid. “New lines are constantly being added”, noted an article of 1906, – such as gravy browning and tomato chutney in the 1910s.

Jumbo was a short-lived Kirkpatrick foray that had been around for a decade with two previous owners, before it came into their possession. From the Nelson Evening Mail, August 1900

Kirkpatrick & Co. also acted as agents for a variety of international products such as Nestlé, Peters, and Kohler’s chocolates, Henderson’s sweets by  James Stedman of Sydney (later better known as Sweetacres) as well as Faulding’s products like eucalyptus extract., cloudy ammonia, and olive oil.

Another children’s competition campaign of 1922, again by Kirkpatrick’s preferred advertising agency – Haines.

In 1904 Kirkpatrick acquired The Nelson Fish Company – a producer of smoked, chilled and frozen fish which was packed in pumice and sent far and wide. In prime position on the edge of the Nelson harbour, the large, hygienic white premises also did a roaring trade in ice.

The “K” Factory,  October 1900 from the Auckland Weekly News. Courtesy of Auckland Council Heritage Images, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19001012-4-6

Now in its heydays, the Kirkpatrick enterprise was during this period apparently the biggest canning and jam factory in Australia and New Zealand combined.

“K” spag with cheese had been around since at least the 1930s, but these  probably date from the early 1950s era. Photo courtesy of Trade Me member Shakaya.

Kirkpatrick in his spare time was quite the sports enthusiast with a particular fondness for the game of hockey, and eventually became president of the Nelson Association. In 1924 he founded and first presented the silver ‘K’ Cup as the trophy for women’s hockey. He was a Freemason and held the rank of deputy grand master of the District Grand Lodge of Westland and Nelson. Like many foodstuffs industry bigwigs such as Barker (Four Square) and Dustin (Buttermaid), who found that wider power came with industrial clout – he also stepped into the public eye via favoured community organisations, and inevitably into the more political arena serving a term as a city councillor from 1898.

“K” advertising blotters issued in 1925. Original photo used for composite is courtesy of Graham Bulman.

He died in 1925 and the Henry Jones Co-op Ltd purchased the company (an Australian company founded by Henry Michael Jones, famous for the IXL brand which also had with an extensive range of food processing plants in New Zealand cities as well as Tasmania and Melbourne). In 1913, Kirkpatrick had made a grab for the financially-troubled Frimley brand so this was also part of the takeover. At some point in the late 1930s it was passed from Henry Jones to Wattie’s – one of their earliest acquisitions – if not the first in a long list of brands they snapped up to eventually become number one. I covered the Frimley brand in brief here :


The “K” Factory in October 1964, just after news of the Wattie’s takeover. From the Nelson Photo News. Photo courtesy of the Friends of the Nelson Library Inc.

In the 1920s ads for tomato soup, Xmas puddings and a product named “Musto” (a spice base mix for making piccalilli and chow chow, later made by Trent’s, The NZ Coffee and Spice Co Ltd,  under their Good Cook line) appear in newspapers as well as on other advertising like blotters. The 1930s saw canned spaghetti in tomato sauce, or with added cheese; baked beans, vegetable soup, and that good old depression staple pork & beans. Things took a more exotic turn with loganberries, dessert raspberries, and diced fruit salad on offer. By this time fruit and vegetable products on sale under the “K” label were in the dozens.

Famous Wellington grocery store and delicatessen Fuller-Fulton advertising Kirkpatrick Soups. Evening Post, June 1935

“Imperial” was a subsidiary brand trademarked in 1909 and lasted well into the 1930s. Although it was registered to cover just about every category of product under “K”, it seems it may only have ever been produced as canned jam. Still – it was around for a good quarter century so can be deemed successful.

IGA stores advertising, circa late 1950s-early 1960s.

According to IPONZ, It seems as if the Crest brand (almost unknown now, but during the 1950s it was in fact far bigger than Wattie’s) also came under the auspices of Kirkpatrick & Co while it was under ownership of  the Henry Jones company. After being passed from behemoth Butland Industries to Unilever, it was a very short time before it was sold on again – seemingly a year or so. For just a few months in 1960 the company had some sort of joint arrangement with Wattie’s over the brand – which was over by November of that year when all the categories were re-registered solely to Heinz Watties.

An event at the Kirkpatrick family home, Nelson. Provenance and year of photo unknown, but looks to be late 1920s-early 1930s judging by the costume styles.

In 1964, Wattie’s took over S. Kirkpatrick & Co., Ltd., as well as Thompson & Hills Ltd – now both subsidiaries of The Henry Jones Co-op Ltd in the same factory. So at this point the round-up included OAK, Playtime, and “K” brands. By 1971 they had dismantled the brand and shut down the Nelson factory which was producing all of these labels as well as, of course, a number of Wattie’s products and Watties-owned brands by this point in time.

Known as Kirkpatrick House for well over 70 years, the home served as a charitable girl’s boarding house and then a backpackers.  Photographed in 2009, it still stands in Mount Street as part of a new estate.

By the end of the 1960s “K” jam and soup had lasted the whole distance, with the last record of product I have seen, being of marmalade in the final year of business. But sadly that was the end for the Kirkpatrick name as far as foodstuffs (as well as Thompson & Hills’ Playtime Jam – which had been around since at least the 1920s).

“K” jam label from my personal collection, circa mid-late 1960s

The factory site was eventually demolished to construct a New World supermarket – in a somewhat ironic turn a Foodstuffs NZ Ltd – initiated chain built on the very spot where founding father of Four Square,  J. Heaton Barker had worked for Samuel Kirkpatrick up until 1901 (I covered this in my previous article).

“K” soup label from my personal collection, circa mid-late 1960s

The family residence in Mount Street was called Kirkpatrick House ( later Centennial Kirkpatrick House ), and still presides high on the steep hill looking down to the factory site; it can be easily seen from the supermarket parking lot. It had been left by Kirkpatrick in his will along with a substantial monetary bequest to provide a roof for daughters of deceased Freemasons who needed somewhere to stay when they came from rural areas and surrounds, to finish their education at Nelson College for Girls (eventually anyone sponsored by a Masonic organisation was eligible). Perhaps they also worked in the factory, especially during peak season – it’s highly likely as the “K’ factory was always short-staffed. Hundreds boarded there over a seventy year period until the late 1990s when it became a hostel – the Club Nelson Backpackers. The house was sold off as one of several lots of land in late 2011, part of what is now an “eco” housing estate project .

Marmalade advert, Evening Post, July 1911.

Nearly ninety years later, his estate still sponsors girls to board at the college’s in-house accommodation. Samuel Kirkpatrick played a major role in the Nelson district’s development, through his fostering of agriculture, horticulture , significant employment of labour – but also charitable acts which have become a lasting legacy.

A Miss Bush in a rather unfortunate outfit advertising Kirkpatrick & Co’s strawberry and raspberry jams, as well as orange marmalade, around 1898. Image courtesy of the Nelson Provincial Museum, Tyree Studio Collection, Reference: 62826.

Postscript June 2014: When I wrote and posted this article, I am not sure how aware I was that William and Frederick Tyree, the photographers, were my great-aunt’s uncles. Never expecting to have even a tentative connection to anything I research, I was nevertheless quite pleased to discover this family connection.




Addendum Sept 2012: This label just in from a British dealer. I have never seen this before and I am guessing it dates somewhere around 1900s-1910s. Why would a previously unseen-for-sale-in-the-Anipodes label end up in the U.K., one might ask? 

This may be the answer, in an ad from a Grocer’s Review magazine of 1948 which shows the can in one of the photos at the top of the post. By accounts, “K” had quite a market not only in Australia, but made it as far as Britain as well.  Image courtesy of Mike Davidson, who scrounged it up from his magazine collection especially for me. 




Addendum early Jan 2013: I found this ad for the Musto product by S. Kirkpatrick & Co, April 1921. This was part of a series from a campaign by the Charles Haines agency for the “K” brand.

MUSTO KEWPIE - K KIRKPATRICK - HAINES - Auckland Star 4 April 1921 Page 8 copy


Bite Size: Souped up

In Canned Goods, soup, Wattie Cannery Ltd, Wattie's on July 29, 2012 at 10.46

So here’s my third post in less than a week, trying to catch up after a significant event has ripped a quarter of my schedule from the year.
The same old story as previously posted on quite a few times now – recreations of 25 or so labels that were offered up for auction by a Trade Me seller in early 2011, apparently a portion of the collection that belonged to a former merchandising manager who had kept an archive during his tenure at one of the plants. More details here.


as well as quite a few others over the last year or so in which I talked about it. Just click on the Wattie’s category and scroll down for the other stories on labels. Otherwise this post has a list of specific urls in relation. You know you’re really making progress when a post becomes a list of self referential links!

These were actually some of the first labels I had a go at recreating over a year ago and I probably picked them because of their clean graphic nature thinking they would be a simple first project. I don’t have an exact date on these three soup labels; I expect there were quite a few more in the range but these are all I have ever seen. I’m taking an educated guess that they date from the very end of the 1960s to perhaps the very early 1970s.

I’ll be back next week with either a post on Four Square supermarkets (finally) or the Tip-Top brand (which I can promise will be better than any puff piece that’s been churned out by their PR department). Of course this all completely depends, not surprisingly, on whimsy.

Preserved Fruit

In Canned Goods, Documentary, Fly Creative, NZ Icons, Wattie's on June 14, 2012 at 10.46

Here are a variety of Wattie’s fruit label recreations I’ve been working on over the last few weeks:
First up, a Clingstone peaches label said to date from 1936, which was used by Fly Creative for their website when they did their successful 2006-2007 “NZ Icons” merchandise project in conjunction with some of new Zealand’s biggest Brands including Fresh Up, Chelsea, Fleming’s and Bluebird as well as Wattie’s. This comprised of teeshirts and tea towels in custom designed tins, as well as a set of postcards for all these companies. This would probably the earliest label I have seen from this brand, except I do not believe it is anywhere near that old. Any designs before 1948 at earliest from Wattie’s are yet to be seen, to date. As it stands this peach label shows up in marketing material issued in 1954, so in combination with the sophisticated level of design and printing it is almost certain to date from the early 1950s. I do not know where they pulled the specific date of 1936 from, but I do not believe it is correct.

The jam label comes from footage of the Wattie’s archive made by Auckland historian and documentary maker Peter Michel – who worked for them creating a documentary  to celebrate their 75th anniversary just a couple of years ago. He was kind enough to lend me some images to work with that he gathered during the research process; and as well as that he generously gave me a copy of the film. I used the background (to recreate that fruit illustration would usually take days of work) and remade the harder-edged graphics over it to clean it up and bring it back to its former glory. A gorgeous design. I’m guessing it dates from the late 1940s to early 1950s. I know for sure it was in production in 1954 or earlier.

The prune can label is one of the last ones that I am putting up from part of the alleged former merchandising manager’s collection which I most recently covered here in late April. That post tells the story as I know it of the collection that was on offer early last year on Trade Me, and my deduction on its origins. Thankfully, for a change this label was rather painless to recreate. Small mercies and all that. It’s from the same range that I can definitely verify were in use, and on the supermarket shelves in 1963-1964. I imagine they were around a bit longer than that, though. I have almost completed recreating the entire collection of 22 labels offered in the lot.

Hopefully I’ll be back on the weekend with another post to try and catch up on things here.

Bite Size: Canny Conservation

In "K" Brand, Canned Goods, Desserts, Kirkpatrick, Oak, Thompson & Hill, Wattie Cannery Ltd, Wattie's on April 24, 2012 at 10.46

In my ongoing project to recreate basically every pre 1975 Wattie’s can label that I can find – which I may add is quite the tedious task to undertake – I have finally come to the end of reviving all of the 25 or so labels that were offered up for auction by a Trademe seller in early 2011, apparently a portion of the collection that belonged to a former merchandising manager who had kept an archive during his tenure at one of the plants. The seller also claimed that they had been in some kind of museum collection in the meantime but I’m a little bit dubious about that idea. It was more likely to be a private collector’s deceased estate, and perhaps they had a personal display or even just a scrapbook from their time with the company. The likelihood that an institution or corporate archive would deaccession these sort of items is highly unlikely. The more I learn about them through research the tighter the dates become, and most of them seem to date in between a period from the late 1950s through to the early 1970s – so a stretch of 15 years more or less.

I actually suspect that they may have come out of the former S. Kirkpatrick & Co factory in Nelson before it closed down in 1971 – by then Wattie’s had acquired not only Kirkpatrick’s business and their long-running “K” brand, but also Thompson & Hill and the subsequent Oak business which were being produced (at least in part) from this set-up. Since some late 1960s to early 1970s “K” and Oak labels also went on sale at the same time through another seller who was also a parting with another portion of the same collection – it made me formulate that this was likely the source.

Anyway, it’s  kind of a relief to finally be finished with this block of my program – however in the meantime I have had around fifty more designs come to light through various sources from fellow collectors, to archives and libraries – and they have not at all been easy to find I should add. So there’s not much of a break before I start again on remaking the old packaging from the mid 1930s onwards. I previously posted quite a few fruit and vegetable labels I’ve made over the last year or so which you can find by just going to the tag at the very top of the post and clicking on the Wattie’s category to see the rest in the archive.

Woolworths Supermarket in 1964  showing fruit salad cans and boxes,  by John Le Cren Archives New Zealand’s Railway Collection.


I don’t have to speculate too much on the age of this particular label since I was able to locate this photo of a Woolworths store in 1964 which clearly shows not only the cans in huge stacks, but also the boxes next to the shelves. As well as a rather nice POS die-cut card hanging advert for corn – either kernels or creamed – up above the display, which I would like to recreate at some stage. This label recreation was probably somewhere up there with the Chesdale poster I did a few months ago as far as difficulty level – having to recreate every piece of the fruit salad in the bowl from scratch, as well as the alternative illustration of whole fruits on the other side of the can. Mercifully, these labels usually have the one same illustration repeated so once you are basically done with that, half the work is over. But not in this case!

Projecting The Past

In Canned Goods, Frozen Foods, Hastings Blossom Festival and Parade, Unilever, Wattie's on February 20, 2012 at 10.46

I was able to pick up some details of the 1959 version of the 11 ounce pea can from the slide images below and in combination with a promotional lighter that Wattie’s issued in the form of the pea can around this time, I was able to recreate it.


I was thrilled to get this batch of slides recently off Trademe for a fairly nominal price , supposedly unpublished images taken by someone inside the Wattie’s plant around 1959; ladies in peaked net hats sorting piles of beans and peas, packing cans into boxes, men prodding things in bits of machinery as men are want to do.


At first I thought they were probably shots taken by a professional photographer commissioned by Wattie’s for a promotional vehicle and as such may have been be a common item handed out as gifts to visitors and employees. It was only when I scanned them at high resolution I realised that they had actually been taken fairly casually, probably by the son or daughter of an employee – who is featured in one or two of the shots. I don’t know on what occasion it was that they were allowed to wander about taking photos of the entire process during production, but I am sure that even then you probably weren’t allowed to pop in, visit Mum and shoot off a roll of film. Maybe he or she offered some photos to management for the privilege. We can only speculate. As you can see it seems they took photographs in both the canning and the freezing facilities at the plants; and probably taken over more than one trip. Objectively, it was still reasonably early days of the freezing process which was started in 1947 by Wattie’s for the Birdseye brand, which I had previously covered in a post here:


I also posted a couple of pictures with it of the Hastings Blossom Festival from the Hastings District Council’s Historic Image Archive Collection; of which the author of the slides has included one image of the same float from the 1958 parade, made from flowers and featuring giant pea cans and boxes. (Sadly just missing out on being the year of the outrageous “Blossom Riot”, which was apparently instigated by “rebellious young people”: http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/hawkes-bay-places/2/4.  I think someone must have spiked the spearmint milkshakes at the local tearooms with something.)


I am going to include the captions as written on the slide frames: This one simply said “Wattie’s  – labelling”. You can see the cans and packing boxes clearly.


Caption:“Wattie’s  – 11 oz labelling”.


Caption:“Wattie’s – 11 oz can labelling.”


Caption: Wattie’s  – bean filler.” the women are pushing the beans into a multitude of cans  set in the circular metal dish and then they are taken out and tamped down by hand before sealing and processing.


Caption: ” Wattie’s – can-plant stacked ends”.  


Caption: “Wattie’s  – Q F pea belt”. I think it stands for “quick frozen”. These women are obviously doing quality control for boxed frozen peas.


Caption: “Wattie’s –  quick freeze department wrapping machine”. Note the flat printed pea boxes. I am going to make a recreation of this later in the year.  


Caption: “Wattie’s  – mother at copper 1959”.  I don’t know what the “copper” refers to but it seems to be something to do with the end of the can before it’s sealed.  

Addendum early Sept 2012: A reader tells me this was called a “capper”, not a copper –  this piece of machinery is the seamer for the ends of the cans. 


Caption: ” Wattie’s  –  on top floor Wattie’s Jan 1959″. I have no idea what this equipment is. Possibly vats for freezing fluid of some sort, or perhaps these are pressure cookers. 


Caption: ” Wattie’s – can making plant”. Apparently this position required a degree in standing around day-dreaming. 


Caption: “Wattie’s  – labelling machine”.  Finished eleven ounce  cans rolling out at the end of the process. Now to pack them, and good to go! 

Front design of the factory box for packing two dozen eleven ounce garden pea cans, circa 1959. I’ve recreated this from what I can see in the slides.

Side design of the factory box for packing two dozen eleven ounce garden pea cans, circa 1959. I’ve recreated this from what I can see in the slides.


 Hastings Blossom festival of 1959. In 1958 the garden peas can label design included in the Wattie’s float above was in use (I have a copy of this in my collection), and in 1963 it was being produced again and back on the shelves of supermarkets. I don’t yet know why they changed it for a short time and then changed back a couple of years later, or why they had two very different designs simultaneously. A possibility is that the same float had been used in the parade for a number of years.


Anyway, they must have either started making frozen goods here in Hastings  from the beginning and opened a larger freezing facility in Gisborne, or opened the one in Gisborne first and then after that was established, a facility at the canning plant in Hastings later. Either way I am sure that the snapper didn’t travel to the other plant otherwise I think I can safely say that the shots would be a bit more, dare I say it – “professional”. It’s interesting because they are the only casual colour shots I have ever seen; the same few are usually wheeled out from the Wattie’s archive collection for museums et al – and always black and white and sort of staged. If these really are one-offs, in that respect they are an important find for this genre of Kiwiana collectables. I was able to see exactly what the label of the 11 ounce can of peas looks like in 1959, as well as the two-dozen-can box that the finished product was packed into for shipping -which I have recreated both of here. Also in another shot are flat-packed pea boxes running through a machine which I am going to recreate later in the year. Find of the year I reckon! Well, it was only January. A A

Addendum, early Aug 2013: An ad showed up in a copy of The Weekly News I bought, dated April 11 1956, showing the same label design in use.

aThe Weekly News April 11 1956 - Wattie's garden peas EDIT smla

Addendum, mid March  2014: This wooden crate made for holding sixteen ounce cans came up for auction a few months back. I would assume it’s an earlier version than the ones featured here, due to the logic that wood shipping items, being more expensive to produce,  must have come before cardboard. However judging by the logo, this seems like it probably dates from the 1960s.  The logo went through a number of adjustments over the years which help to identify and date various ephemera to within a particular time frame. Earlier than 1954 the lettering is finer with a markedly taller W which has more dramatic kicks at the top. Assuming I’m right – and this is pretty much definitely the 1960s logo –what their reason was for reverting to wood is , I can’t really say. The fact that the box held double the usual number of large cans is probably a clue as to why they went back to that material. However another possibly conflicting piece of information is that the text makes no mention of the Gisborne factory which could mean that it dates from the 1940s, or very early 1950s. The anomaly of the logo could be down to printing technique or medium used on the material, or the artist that drew the stencil up – but doubtful. After their second major premises opened, I assumed it was a rule that both plants were mentioned on all items, but this may not have been a hard and fast rule.

ashipping box for Watties tinned peas edita

Addendum, late June 2014: This image is of the Wattie’s canned peas lighter promo I mention right at the beginning of the article. They are fairly rare and come up for auction may once every couple of years at most. As it turns out this wasn’t the only lighter issued over the years, though; much rarer is a flip-top enamelled metal lighter with a picture of the pressure cooked peas can printed on it on one side – which was the alternate label design that was run concurrently with this one – and a frozen peas box on the reverse (both featured in the slide above of the Hastings Blossom Parade of 1959).  Image courtesy of reader Kerry O’Connor’s personal collection.

aWattie's canned peas lighter promo Kerry O'Connor edit copy

Addendum, mid June 2015: Another shot of the Wattie’s canned peas lighter promo. Image courtesy of reader Kerry O’Connor’s personal collection.

Wattie's canned peas lighter promo Kerry O'Connor 3



All content of Longwhitekid copyright Darian Zam © 2013. All rights reserved.

Can Do

In Canned Goods, Grocery Archaeology, Supermarket Anthropology, Wattie's on November 20, 2011 at 10.46

Again, this is part of a collection that was amassed by a marketing manager who worked at the Wattie’s company for a long period – more specifically the late 1950s  through to the mid-1970s and collected samples of many of the wares he handled during that period; a wonderful archive of product and design from one of New Zealand’s most iconic and enduring brands. We can conject that, since there were Thompson & Hills’s  “Oak”  brand and S. Kirkpatrick & Co.’s “K” brand being sold at auction simultaneously, that he was employed at least for a time at the Nelson Kirkpatrick factory which was purchased by Wattie’s – and who by that time also had Oak and were manufacturing that brand from the premises as well. The factory was demolished in the 1970s (some time after 1971; one of my Oak labels is dated 1971 on the back also) and one can presume he moved on or retired.

I am putting the story together slowly, as I uncover more dates and facts that fit. I’ve previously covered this story hereherehere  and here

I am conjecting that it dates from the mid 1960s due to the version of the logo used; and photos I have seen of store interiors with cans from the same set. I created it from a low res photo (above) on Trademe.

I am surprised that after chipping away at this project for a year I have four labels left to do  in the current bunch I planned to remake; diced fruit salad, tomatoes, prunes, and tomato sauce (there are heaps I haven’t posted yet). It seems to take forever to create the graphics, I think this one took 7-8 hours to achieve. worth it in the end as I now have quite a collection of long lost labels. What to do with them when I’m done? I was thinking of getting them printed and glueing them on to cans for a fun display.

Wattie’s He Been Doing

In Canned Goods, Canned vegetables, Fruit Juice, Instant Drinks, Wattie's on October 2, 2011 at 10.46

I honestly can’t say what I have been doing for the last month besides not posting here, but I do know that I have a heck of a lot of filing to catch up on and work to achieve on the book I am currently doing.  I do have some interesting articles coming up on the Pam’s brand, the early New Zealand  advertising world, and part two of a story on the Buttermaid brand  which I have discovered has its foundations  way back to Victorian Times. In lieu of not having put anything up on the site for nearly four weeks, here is the recent recreation that I have done of an early Wattie’s label for a grapefruit juice can.

Again this is part of a collection that was amassed by a marketing manager who worked at a company from the 1950s  through to the 1970s and collected samples of all the products he handled during that period. I’ve covered this story here  and here  and here. That said I am not sure of the date of this item, but I am conjecting that it dates from the early 1960s. hopefully later in the week I will be back on track and posting at least four times a month even if it’s something small.

Bite Size: Repear

In Canned Goods, Desserts, Wattie's on July 14, 2011 at 10.46

This is, again, a label that was sold from part of a collection that went on the market  in early 2008 which I mention in this post.

This was just before I came on the Kiwiana scene and was an archive kept by an ex-marketing manager who had worked at Wattie’s through the 1950s to the 1970s.


It was snatched up by two or so buyers, I am told, who are now releasing bits and pieces from it. All in all, I probably managed to get about ten from two different sellers this year so far, but it’s obvious they are not the best stuff – and these earlier and rare ones which I think date from the mid-late fifties, were way out of my price range.
It took me over a day of work to recreate this from a snapshot, painting the illustration digitally. There is a whole bunch of them in this fruit/fruit juice range but it’s such painstaking, time consuming work that it’s going to take me a long time to get around to finishing all of them. Anything with an illustration takes forever to do.
But there’s something quite satisfying about bringing back a long-gone piece of art from the dead that may otherwise never be seen again, once it’s gone to a private collector.


I previously posted on a little of the history of the Wattie’s company and the Frimley’s brand here, but there’s more to cover – as well as history of the other brands that it eventually acquired: Kirkpatrick, K, Playtime, Thomson & Hill, and Oak to name some well-known labels of the past that were snatched up and assimilated.