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Archive for the ‘Desserts’ Category

Elbe’s Ice Cream: The Plot Thickens

In A&P Shows, Birds Eye Frozen Foods, Birds Eye NZ Ltd, Bodgies and Widgies, Denne Brothers, Dennis Knight Turner, Desserts, Elbe's Ice Cream, Elbe’s Milk Bar, Fonzies, Fred Elbe, Frozen Foods, Frozen Vegetables, Griffin’s, Happy Days, Heavenly Creatures, Hokey Pokey, Hokey Pokey ice cream, Ice Cream, Ice cream sundaes, John Waters' Cry-Baby, Juvenile delinquency, Laverne and Shirley, Louis Gottfried Christian Elbe, Mazengarb Report, Milk Bar Cowboys, Milkshakes, Moral Panic, Peter Pan Frozen Foods Ltd, Peter Pan ice cream, Rebels with a cause, Rockers and Greasers, soft drink, T.C. Denne, teenage decadence, The Petone Incident, Thomas Clement Denne, Tip-Top, Warren Elbe on January 12, 2015 at 10.46

Elbe's icecream logo 1950s copy

Recreation of an Elbe’s Ice Cream sign, imagined as late 1950s, inspired by their A&P stand logo (photo further down), and the colours of the milk bar interior.

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Now, as we know from my previous article here, a lot of people like to mark their territory in hokey pokey history – and quite often that involves claiming they invented it.

Having read my story on New Zealand’s favourite ice cream flavour, an Elbe descendant contacted me. After trading quite a few emails (as well as a bit of cursory snooping by me) it was a done deal that there was more than plenty for a story here – contenders to the hokey pokey crown, scandalous behaviour, and juvenile delinquency!

Elbe’s first opened as just a milk bar at 98 High Street, Lower Hutt, Wellington, “next to Woolworths”. The earliest mention I was able to locate was in a humorous article “On Trial”, in the Hutt News, early July 1936 – in which a mock court case is conducted at the milk bar of Frederick Elbe Esq., as part of a stag party celebration. At that time, apart from milkshakes and sundaes concocted for customers on the spot – the Elbes made their own ice cream on the premises and sold pints, quarts, and ice cream party cakes commercially.

The story begins with Louis Gottfried Christian Elbe – who hailed from Uralla, New South Wales, Australia, born 1887 to Louis (Ludovick Gottfried Elbe, 1858-1936) and Mary Phillipa (nee Goddard, 1864-1953). By the time Louis was on the scene he was already a second generation Aussie; the family had arrived from Erbach, Nassau, Germany in 1855. In 1906 Louis married Ada M. Marshall in Newtown, Sydney. After marriage they resided at 91 Evans Street, in Rozelle.

Elbe's Milk Bar 1950s courtesy of Sherry Elbe

The interior of Elbe’s Milk Bar in its 1950s heyday. The colour scheme was a very modern cream, lime green and black. Image courtesy of the Elbe family.

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Apparently quite mismatched – things went south with the union very quickly; in less than two years Ada had been abandoned. She quickly arranged for a court warrant issued in nearby Glebe, for Louis’s arrest – citing desertion. However it seems he had truly flown the coop. In not much more than a year, he reappeared in New Zealand, in 1909, now named Frederick Louis. A few short months had seemingly allowed him enough time to settle, meet, and marry Ann Elizabeth Lowry. Hopefully he was divorced from his initial wife first – but it doesn’t look hopeful right now.

Thus far my researches have been unable to locate any record of Fred arriving to Aotearoa. Running off, he likely switched countries under an assumed name.There’s no evidence that the Elbes ever divorced in Australian records, or that Frederick Elbe ever returned to Australia to sort this situation out before remarrying. The New Zealand Immigration Passenger Lists show no Elbes that even vaguely qualify. At least – not up until the 1930s when several records clearly indicate a Mr. F. Elbe, of the correct age and occupation, returning from Australia to Wellington on a number of occasions, from then on through to the 1950s. Not the kind of thing families really want to discover but that’s how it is – and not that uncommon either.

Why New Zealand? Perhaps he thought it best to get out of the country completely, but in tandem wanted to remain as close as possible to his family. So it was probably the most logical option. The speed with which he remarried indicates he may have already met his future second wife, perhaps in Australia, hence his absconding with no explanation. Either that or he was a very fast mover. It was more likely the latter – but we will probably never know exactly how it played out.

Anyway, now a Kiwi tailor named Fred (records show a registration for Elbe Tailoring Company Ltd in Wellington), his transformation was almost complete. Between at least 1919-1922 Fred Elbe was advertising suit making from 276 Lambton Quay; “fit and style perfection…above H.B.” (which stood for Hallenstein Brothers), and later 262 on the same street where H.B. now stood for “Hannah’s Building”. Grandchildren recall a one-time career as a traveller and a manufactory for belts and men’s suspenders later on.

Frederick Louis (Fred) Elbe- ( government name Louis Gottfried Christian Elbe) courtesy of Sherry Elbe

 Frederick Louis aka Fred Sr. (government name Louis Gottfried Christian Elbe), a tailor, was the first to come to New Zealand; it was his son that founded the ice cream business. Image courtesy of the Elbe family.

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The couple eventually had three sons; Rowland Carl (1913-1987), Roy Sheldon (1920-2007) and Louis Frederick Elbe (1910-1982). Their parents both passed away in Hutt in 1966 respectively. However as an interesting aside, the couple seem to have been living separately from at least 1946. Around this time Fred’s mother had arrived from New South Wales and was residing with him. Given how some wives feel about their mothers-in-law, it may be why she moved out!

It was Louis Frederick (who like his father also called himself Fred – we’ll call him Fred Jr. from here on to differentiate), who actually established the Elbe’s brand. How exactly he gained knowledge and training of the  art of ice cream production remains unanswered. It was likely the business was started in the mid 1930s, although it’s now not known exactly what year. One source says “just prior to the war” which almost tallies with the earliest newspaper date. Fred Jr.’s two sons with wife Rewa Ellen, nee August, were Warren William and Maxwell Richard Elbe. However it’s Warren that people mostly seem to associate memories of the Elbe’s Milk bar heyday with. In the mid-late 1940s the Elbe’s takeaway product roster expanded to add “Homepacks’, and ice cream Christmas cakes “frozen extra hard”.

Upon returning from the war it was Roy who became “chief ice cream maker” at the milk bar. As the business and brand became successful, premises were purchased just across the road – and a factory started production under his management. A picture which has been taken of a stand around 1959 at a Bartons Bush A&P specifies some novelties such as vanilla slices and “Rockets” (the full name of the item is partially obscured; it’s either frozen, space or chocolate).

An image of the interior of the shop, taken in the 1950s shows that Elbe’s had expanded into a line of fountain syrups for drinks. Other items they served were soft drinks and fancy concoctions like peach melba, chocolate peanut and date snowball sundaes, the Snowman, the Rainbow Special – as well as individual Dixie-style tubs, vanilla slices, chocolate coated novelties (probably similar to Boms). There was also a full candy counter in the corner and a jukebox for the latest in pop music. Of course (the not-so-ubiquitous) milkshakes, about which Brigitte Bönisch-Brednich recounts in “Keeping a Low Profile: An Oral History of German Immigration to New Zealand”: “I vividly remember in my teenage years Elbe’s. The art of making milkshakes was developed to a very fine pitch.”

Ice Cream Cake box Elbe's Milk Bar 1950s RECREATION copy

Recreation of the Elbe’s ice cream cake box, seen on the top shelf  behind the bar in the 1950s photo of the milk bar interior (above). Gavin Elbe recalls “…these were about ten inches diameter and about three deep, with a glittery paper band around them – sometimes decorated on the top for special occasions. I never got one.” Harsh!

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During the first half of this decade Fred Jr. registered a design he cooked up in collaboration with a Roy Butterworth (1904-1978) with the Intellectual Property office. I was unable to find out what exactly that was, but I speculated it was most likely a piece of manufacturing machinery or packaging rather than a recipe. Since Butterworth worked through the 1930s-1950s as an upholsterer, essentially pattern-making, I’d make an educated guess it was the latter.
The family story goes that another invention of Great-Grandpa Fred Jr.’s may have been the Hokey Pokey ice cream recipe which he then sold to Tip-Top, who have of course themselves claimed (falsely, it’s now fairly clear) that they actually invented it during the Forties. Further to this cuckooing of Elbe’s – Fred Jr.’s motorised ice cream cart now sits in MOTAT with a Tip-Top signage emblazoned on it instead of the Elbe’s logo (how it went from the Hutt to Auckland – I’m not sure).

Gavin Elbe, one of Fred Jr.’s nephews, recalls: “I was born in 1947, and I cannot remember a time when we did not make Hokey Pokey ice cream. In my school days I did odd jobs there at the factory during the holidays and weekends. As soon as I was old enough, I had the job of breaking up the slabs to put in the mixture.” He was unsure where the confectionery came from, but thinks that it, along with chocolate for novelty products, may likely have been supplied by Griffin’s – which makes sense since they were based in the local area. Then he tacked on – ” This was years before we were bought out by T.C. Denne…”
Wait, hold up a minute. Did he just say Denne? The same T.C. Denne who founded Peter Pan Ice Cream, that I’ve previously written about on a number of occasions?

Interesting, to say the least, that in all my research on the Dennes and their businesses, and the various interviews I conducted, they never once mentioned they purchased the Elbe’s business! I wonder if that got left out (deliberately) or perhaps just forgot to get a mention (unlikely). It makes one wonder that if Elbe’s were making Hokey Pokey first, then Peter Pan may have acquired the recipe with their purchase – and thus have to forfeit their claim to be front runner – or even one of them at all.

When I pushed Gavin for a little more of a fix on the date he states “the Hokey Pokey smashing definitely began (in my) pre-teens”, putting a definite date before 1960. In comparison to other confirmed dates from Peter Pan and Newjoy Ice Cream Co. this isn’t the earliest, so actually brings me no closer to solving the mystery of who made it first.

Elbe's Ice Cream ads 1943-1945 copy

Various Elbe’s product adverts from the Hutt News, from clockwise top left: April 1944, October 1944, November 1943, and November 1944. Images courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand.

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“After Denne’s purchase of Elbe’s, we continued to make a range of lines in Lower Hutt for distribution. Until one day my father got a phone call from the Dennes to say he was to lay off all staff, and arrange the strip out of our factory. No visit – just a phone call. I still remember that day because I had biked down to the factory after school to do some jobs, as I frequently did, and found all of the staff in a sombre mood.”

Gavin vaguely recalls some kind of connection with ” Levin and Company, (and) with the Birds Eye brand as well – but I am short on detail.” I’ve tried looking into Levin a bit, who made a great deal of their money in Amber Tips tea from the 1890s onwards, and I am not sure where they are at these days – if it even still exists, or in what form. It’s a very old company, founded by some Jewish fellows, and going as far back as the 1850s. Seemingly during the war years one of the things they were handling was sugar – a very precious commodity for confectionery and ice cream makers, obviously. That said, ice cream makers were off the hook a bit more than chocolate companies because there was no rationing restriction on dairy – so sugar was their only problem. Birds Eye was not launched by Unilever in New Zealand until 1947, and Wattie’s as far as I know did all their frozen fruit and vegetables for them, and probably still do.

Levin and Company had both freezing and import-export enterprises so if it wasn’t to do with sugar, then it’s (more) likely the connection was distribution. Many of these companies were connected through distribution deals because they needed to pair up with others, for transport reasons, to make their enterprise profitable. It’s why so many companies that started off with ice cream branched out into frozen vegetables otherwise it wasn’t viable financially to distribute their product. This means many reciprocal deals were done to move product around the country efficiently.

One acquaintance remembers her father being friendly enough with Fred Jr. to “visit…shortly after the opening of the milk bar. We were given a tour of the business, including out the back, where ice cream was made. In a large freezer room were shown a box of peas, still in their shells. He opened one pod to show that the contents were in mint condition. He predicted correctly that this would be a major method of preserving food in the future.”

Although the mention of frozen peas is interesting, there’s no memory of any frozen vegetables ever being produced by the Elbe’s factory. So it is not really relevant to the fact that Peter Pan bought out quite a number of freezing businesses, including ice cream operations, up and down the North Island in a methodical campaign to advance their distribution over the years. However there may have been more of a motive at play here for the acquisition. Is it possible that Peter Pan got it’s Hokey Pokey recipe from its acquisition of the Elbe’s factory?

Elbe's icecream and cola stalls Bartons Bush A&P late 1950s courtesy of Sherry Elbe

aTaken at Hutt Valley A&P show, late 1950s, Bartons Bush. Fred Jr.’s nephew Gavin Elbe remembers: “We had the concession for ice cream and Coca-Cola stalls, also a candy floss machine. My job was refunding the empty bottles, at two pence each – or a packet of chewing gum.”

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As it did in every major city, business exploded during WWII due to the influx of R&R servicemen to Wellington; the Elbe’s business did not solely flourish because of this, but later Elbe’s provided supplies for the ice breakers who were part The IGY team ( The International Geophysical Year  was an international scientific project run from July 1957 – Dec 1958).
Gavin recalls “…they loved it (Elbe’s product) because it was much creamier than American ice cream. In those days it was a legal requirement for ice cream in New Zealand to have a minimum percentage of real butter and milk powder to help protect the dairy industry. Very early on I remember real cream was used, also.”
It should be noted  how the advent of a great number of foreign, in this case particularly American servicemen, had great impact on culture and business in large cities; and this in turn had a lasting effect on trends for foodstuffs, clothes, and entertainment that went on for decades – as it is particularly pertinent to the themes here.

By the 1950s the Elbes were, in the words of one of their punny former neighbours “creaming it…with true entrepreneurial skill the Elbes had in no time made a fortune and moved …to a flash two-story house in an up-market suburb.” With the interior of the milk bar decked out in a snazzy contemporary theme of lime, cream and black – Elbe’s had now become the hottest teen hang out in the Wellington area.

It’s recalled that “Friday and Saturday nights were so busy that a staff member would be stationed at the entrance, ensuring that when full, those wishing to enter matched those leaving. It was normal during peak periods for a queue to form outside – waiting patiently for their turn to enter.” Someone else remembers as they “…queued up round the street, (there would be) fighting to get in the front door.” So no doubt a “bouncer” was in place to prevent the scuffles as well.

It was frequented by local kids “at a (nebulous) loose end” – as well as “Bodgies” and their female counterpart “Widgies” – as they were known in Australasia; the monikers given to the down under equivalent of the American movement of “Rockers” and “Greasers”, or the British version – “Teddies.” “Bikers” per se, came later, in the 1960s; not to be confused with “Milk Bar Cowboys” who were basically Bodgies with motorbikes  – and the variation was lumped into this supposed ragtag bundle of various youth subculture groups. I s’pose the inferral is that there were bound to be wars between factions – but given their definitions (not much different from each other it seems), and objectives, it does not seem that it was as likely as expected.

The movement revolved around newfangled rock ‘n’ roll music, and was also influenced by rebellious teen movies like “Rebel Without a Cause.” Fashion icons were James Dean and Elvis, amongst others.There was an obsession with American style – which was to again resurface later on, in the mid-late 1970s with a feast of nostalgia for the period – exemplified in TV shows like “Happy Days”, “Laverne and Shirley”, and “Sha Na Na” (and also resulted in the cheesy retro snack Fonzies).

Elements of the Bodgie/ Widgie/Milk Bar Cowboy style featured pegged trousers and moccasins, Zoot Suits and luminous socks, exaggerated bright shirts, tight white tee-shirts with leather jackets, flannelettes with Adidas boots, or tight jeans and suede brothel creepers, topped off with a greasy “Rack” hairdo, or Brylcreemed quiffs  finished at the back with D.A. (Duck’s Ass).

As throughout history, with the pinpointing and victimization of many a minority, people took umbrage simply because the so-called “Milk Bar Cowboys” looked and acted differently to the plebeian majority. When fraternizing, add motorcycles into the mix and there’s bound to be public pearl-clutching to relish in. It all sounds very much like John Waters’ movie “Cry Baby”:

The Sydney Morning Herald critiqued “…’bodgies’ growing their hair long and getting around in satin shirts, and ‘weegies (sic)’ cutting their hair short and wearing jeans… confusion seems to be arising about the sex of some adolescents.” Apparently not so confused about sex; because then Elbe’s went from popular to notorious overnight.

Somehow an outrageous story got out that teenagers, some under the age of consent, were using Elbe’s Milk Bar as a meeting place to arrange illicit trysts in nearby Strand Park and down by the Hutt river. Their milkshakes were literally bringing boys to the yard. Young patrons were engaging in “sex acts”, and not only that – but somehow were obtaining contraceptives to boot. It quickly came to be known as the “Petone Incident.”

Moral panic was the headline of the day, exacerbated by the untimely incidents of two separate milk bar murders in Auckland (the fact that they could have happened anywhere seemingly irrelevant) and the horrific Parker–Hulme case (later made by Peter Jackson into Heavenly Creatures with its themes of teen perversion, angst, rebellion and tragedy). Sensationalist media reports of course did not help, but sold papers and made coin.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister of the time, Sir Sidney George Holland, attempted to use this simmering unrest to his advantage and called for a thorough investigation into this wanton depravity; a special committee was set up, chaired by a local lawyer, Dr. Oswald Mazengarb, to examine the supposed social factors that was causing “delinquency” and subsequent juvenile immorality. The hearings and investigations took place over a period of eight weeks.

The text of the Mazengarb Report, in full, the “Report of the Special Committee on Moral Delinquency in Children and Adolescents”, was released in late September 1954. It cites the appearance of witnesses Mr L. F. Elbe, of Elbe’s Milk Bar, Lower Hutt, along with employees Mr. W.L. Ellingham, and Mr. A.L. Lummis, who appeared in the hearing line-up and were examined under oath as numbers fifteen to seventeen respectively.

John, aka “Oldrider”, writes on a forum that he was one of those “Milk Bar Cowboys” in the 1950s Hutt. Dubbed so “because we rode bikes, cavorted with the ‘sexually active’ girls from Hutt Valley High school and Petone Tech, and hung around the milk bars in the weekend. I was definitely a member of that group of guys and gals so named…a great bunch of people to associate with. So, yes, I used to frequent Elbe’s Milk Bar among others (it wasn’t only milk bars that were frequented, either) – but I was not responsible for the saga. The girl in question lived just down the road from me.  (In retrospect) it was pretty pathetic press run by the “Truth” newspaper about the behaviour of the so-called ‘juvenile delinquents’ of the day. They made it very big news, (but it was) pretty tame stuff really!”

the Bodgie A E Manning Wellington Reed 1958 Dennis Knight Turner design copy

“The Bodgie” by A. E. Manning , design by Dennis Knight Turner, published by Reed, 1958.  Formula: If you added a motorbike to a Bodgie, Rocker, Teddy or Greaser  – rather like making a shake – you had instant “Milk Bar Cowboy.”

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Another member recounts the bounties of the hilariously nicknamed private school “Sacred Tarts”: “I remember well, afternoons in the early Fifties ,when I rode my bike from Naenae College into the Hutt. There, we’d meet up with girls from Sacred Heart College, and do a bit of ‘experimenting’ in the back booths at Elbe’s. But not until I’d scoffed a chocolate peanut sundae first! Their gym frocks always smelled, well, inviting.”

So there was definitely some kinky stuff involved, it’s true. That particular individual who is recalled as being in the middle of it all apparently refers to the fifteen year old girl who decided to blab to the authorities about the sexcapades of what she called the “Milk Bar Gang”, and numerous young people in the area allegedly confessed to police their instances of “sexual misconduct” (probably defined as hickies at that time) – however it’s said some were actually charged with carnal knowledge of minors. It’s all a bit vague, really. Too hazy for my liking – and deliberately, I suspect.

However Elbe’s was hardly the “notorious den of teenage lust” it was made out to be, except maybe lust for sweet treats. Merv Griffith says that rather than rumpy, the goal was to “pick up a bird”, and subsequently “the main aim was to go like hell; the louder the screams from the pillion seat, the more successful the mission. Apart from that it was to sit round and comb your hair and try and look beautiful on your bikes. Then you would go in and have a milkshake.” So more toffee than totty. Not exactly titillating stuff.

Even local member of parliament of the time Michael Moohan called them on it and opined it was the report itself that was internationally stigmatizing, dubbing it sensationalist. “I think it is a terrible thing…to give the impression that there is such a grave problem….when such is really not the case.”

However governments usually aren’t very interested in the facts unless they happen to marry with some kind of desired outcome. One way they use situations like this is basically for crowd control, often by scapegoating. Recurrently Instigating “moral panic ” is the perfect way to regulate a society. If the truth of what was involved in “The Petone Incident” was known  – there probably wouldn’t have been that much fuss, or subsequently a reaction. However, once people start actually looking for reasons to break up the party – they can usually find one if they really want to.
Thus a post-war movement for independence essentially came to be considered a “problem” simply by issuing pamphlets to hundreds of thousands of households regarding this revolting rebellion of unbridled teenage decadence.

cry-baby-clan copy

“The Cry Baby Clan”: Still from pope of trash  John Waters’  hilarious 1990 musical satire on juvenile delinquency and moral panic. Recommended watching.

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 The report ultimately laid the blame on a breakdown of dreary urban Nuclear family life; the culprits were teen temptresses, comic books, working mothers, rock ‘n’ roll, and modern cities. Oh, also peace time (because that’s really a bad thing, right?) and generally having too much money (also a terrible burden to anyone). Maybe they should have called it the “Moot Report” since the only astoundingly new thing there was a style of music. Mazengarb, a notorious right wing killjoy and puritanical prude, disapproved wholeheartedly of just about everything as most fundamentalists do – and the list was long. As most fundamentalists also do – I am sure he was hiding something. I like to call it the J. Edgar Hoover Principle, and it’s a pretty reliable rule.

The report resulted in the drafting of new Acts increasing censorship of “obscene and indecent content” in publications, The Child Welfare Amendment Act which made sexual behaviour officially “delinquency”, and the banning of contraceptive sales to minors, because the one thing every parent wants is an underage pregnant daughter to deal with, right? The lack of logic is mind-boggling, and that’s something that hasn’t changed.

The impact had its desired effect, though. Alison Gray discusses in her review of “Patched: The History of Gangs in New Zealand” by Jarrod Gilbert, that “I was in primary school in Lower Hutt. I can still remember my parents discussing the report behind closed doors and banning us kids from going anywhere near the notorious Elbe’s. We had no idea what they were on about, but we knew it had something to do with people not much older than us, behaving very, very badly. Our minds fairly boggled. It was my first experience of a moral panic and it was a little bit scary. I realise now that it was probably even scarier for my parents. The “juvenile delinquents” looked like us, walking down our streets, and sitting in the very booths where we ate our ice cream sundaes. No wonder my parents were afraid!”

Silver-Tex condoms The Killian MRG Company 1950s Te Papa GH010168 copy

Silver-Tex, by Killian MRG Co., 1950s. Image courtesy of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa collection, ref GH010168. Something I never thought I’d ever be writing a caption for on this blog; condoms. The only other example I’ve seen thus far is Durex from the early 1960s. It wasn’t even made common knowledge that they were available, if at all (some businesses like the strictly Catholic Galliens, flatly refused to sell contraceptives) so they weren’t exactly advertised – and the object obviously wasn’t to keep them if you could help it – so few examples survive.

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Nevertheless there wasn’t much to worry about because by the beginning of the next decade, the “Milk Bar Cowboys” would be finished – replaced by the British Mersey sound, and all that new movement entailed. It was farewell Jailhouse Rock, and welcome to Carnaby Street. Following that, the Hippie movement. Inevitably ensued by an older generation’s shock and disgust. And so it goes on, generation to generation. Here’s a long overdue idea – maybe it’s easier just to get used to it.
As for Prime Minister Sidney Holland who rehashed this often used “moral panic” tactic to bolster his polls – could he have been less disingenuous? It was, in the end, hardly a boon for him – as he won another term that year anyway. Those in the know say that ultimately it had little effect on that outcome, and it was wasted energy beating up the situation; however the damage it all caused was done and it was deep, destructive and lasting.

According to a 1996 article on Roy and Nola Elbe and the milk bar history, entitled “Elbe Romance Blossomed Over Counter’ by Lee-Anne Edwards for the The Hutt News, it’s said the the ice cream factory ceased manufacturing around 1960 and had at least one ownership change before the Dennes of Peter Pan Frozen Foods came into the picture; but details are now unknown.  I’m not sure when the milk bar its self closed – I know the Elbes still had it in the very late 1950s as Andrea Elbe, Fred Jr.’s granddaughter, recalls an amusing anecdote in which “…the power went off one night, and my dad Warren had to race down there. He reckoned that Mum deliberately caused it because, pregnant with me, she had terrible middle-of-the-night cravings for ice cream. She got her wish!”

It’s not known how much the so-called “scandal” marred the business interests of the Elbes who were unwittingly caught up in it. However the fact that the milk bar apparently changed hands before the decade was out may be telling – except that the new owners must have been trading on the Elbes’ good business name – because that didn’t change. Bill and Betty Lummis acquired the milk bar and ran it through the 1960s. Their son Lox served with his brothers Brian and Kevin, who says that in their day “…bad behaviour never happened inside, my dad would not stand any nonsense like that.” So Elbe’s heyday as a denizen of vice, corruption and commotion was put paid to.

THE MAN IN THE STREET Upper Hutt Leader Number 22 20 June 1946 - Copy 1 copy

I don’t know what they or it says.  Since the riddles hint at matters equestrian, one can assume that as Fred Elbe Jr. accumulated some wealth, he dabbled in the business of racehorses. Upper Hutt Leader Number 22, 20 June, 1946. Image courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand.

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Today Amalgamated Video occupies the original site on the southern end of High Street. However to add a little bit to its iconic status, it has been announced just recently that Artist Tim Barlow is recreating Elbe’s Milk Bar with the three Lummis brothers – as an installation this year – one of 11 artworks that will form “Common Ground’, Hutt City’s inaugural public art programme as part of the Fringe festival.
In that case, I guess that Elbe’s won’t be forgotten any time soon; and the family can in retrospect be pleased that they played a star role in a very interesting and significant piece of New Zealand’s history.

Thanks to the Elbe family -Sherry, Andy and Gavin , and Vicky Ireland for their assistance with information, material and images for this story. Also thanks to several sources for permission to quote their work: Both Andrea O’Neil  and Alex Fensome at Dominion Post as well as Papers Past all on behalf of Fairfax Media; Oldrider and others at Kiwi Biker forum, social historian Alison Gray, and Merv Griffith’s recollections from Ben Schrader’s “City children and youth – Bad behaviour”, published by Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, © Crown copyright 2005–2015 Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage, which were originally quoted with permission of historian Redmer Yska from his book “All shook up: the flash bodgie and the rise of the New Zealand teenager in the fifties Auckland”: Penguin, 1993, p. 66.

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Addendum late Oct 2015: I’ve been meaning to add these for months – pictures of some of the family members mentioned in this article, which were kindly passed to me by Fred Elbe Sr.’s granddaughter Andy Elbe, after the article was published in New Zealand Legacy magazine. 

Elbe family From L Fred Jr Fred Sr Rowland Elizabeth Ann nee Lowry Roy late 1920s edit sml

The Elbe family: From L, Fred Jr., Fred Sr., Rowland, Elizabeth Ann nee Lowry, and Roy, taken in the late 1920s.

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Fred Elbe jr and Rewa Ellen marriage edit

Fred Elbe Jr.’s marriage to Rewa Ellen August, 1933.

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Marriage of Ernest John August and Mary Adam 1905 Rewa Ellen's parents Ann Elizabeth Lowry knew them edit

The marriage of Ernest John August and Mary nee Adam in 1905. These are the parents of Rewa Ellen August, who became the wife of Fred Elbe Jr. However Ann Elizabeth Lowry, who became Fred Elbe Sr.’s New Zealand wife, knew them as she was part of the wedding party and is third from the right. It’s curious, because did the family forget that they were associated with the Augusts before Fred Elbe was ever in the picture? Or just a weird coincidence? 

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Louis Frederick (Fred Jr) Elbe (b1910) and Rowland Carl (b1913) c 1915-1916 edit - Copy - Copy

Louis Frederick (Fred Jr.) Elbe, with Rowland Carl Elbe, circa 1915.

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All content of Longwhitekid copyright Darian Zam © 2015. All rights reserved.

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Hart Foundations

In Desserts, Frozen Foods, Harts Frozen Novelties Ltd, Harts Ice Cream Ltd, Ice Cream, Leo Francis Hart, NZICMA, Robert James Hart, Snack Foods, The New Zealand Ice Cream Manufacturers' Association on December 5, 2013 at 10.46

Harts Ice Cream Ltd 152 Greenlane Road Auckland  half gallon tin EDIT copy

A half gallon Harts ice cream tin, probably dating from the mid-late 1970s.

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This unusual Auckland ice cream tin came up on Trade Me today which prompted me to do a bit of looking into it.

I was able to eventually crack this one as being established around WWII or just before by a Leo Francis Hart, who was born in Inglewood, Taranaki in 1900 to James Hart and Catherine Elisabeth Campbell.

He probably established the brand in the late 1930s – he first appears at 136 (now 136-138) Greenlane Road in 1935 with his wife Ivy Maud (nee Bell) – and gives his job as “dairyman.” Clearly there was a residence there originally – now long since gone and replaced with a building housing a “Nosh” food market. From the mid-Nineteenth Century Greenlane was known as excellent pasture land for successful dairy herds and crops, but once grand country houses on farms – it was beginning to disappear by the time the Harts arrived on the scene.

152-154 Greenlane Rd 136-138 was adjacent Hart's ice cream factory probably blue building house edit copy

152-154 Greenlane East today: The blue building is probably the original factory, and the lemon house to the left may have been the later family home.

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By 1943 Leo had joined The New Zealand Ice Cream Manufacturers’ Association (NZICMA) as “Harts Frozen Novelties Ltd.”
Leo bought the adjacent land at 152, 154 and 156 over 1944-1945 from three owners – Noel Edward Stewart, Raymond Joseph Goold, and Alton Garnett. By the mid 1940s the business name was “Hart’s Delight Ice Cream Ltd”, and then in July 1948 it was finally changed to “Hart’s Ice Cream Ltd’, which stuck – but without the apostrophe on the packaging.

Robert James (Bob) Hart, his son, was born 1931 and had joined him in the business by the late 1940s. Leo then added more land to his holdings bought from Walter Louis Castaing in 1949 (probably number 150 at the road front). Their given domestic address changed from 152 to 154 Greenlane Road this year so clearly they built a new house and moved into it.

At the same time Leo also did a number of transactions for property he owned, as well – he had sold some other land to two Auckland parties; Central Stores (Pine Island) Limited and Evelynne Dadley.

136-138 and 152-154 Greenlane Rd Hart's ice cream factory copy copy

Aerial map of Greenlane East showing the Hart family’s holdings: Lots 136-138, 150-152, and 154-156. The factory appears to have been down a drive at the back taking up most of  Lot 152.

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The Auckland Council have on record a contract that Onehunga Council made with Harts in 1954 to supply ice cream to them. No doubt they also supplied local business like the 1920s-era Lido Cinema (which still operates to this day) as well as Greenlane Hospital.

Leo travelled numerous times over the years, taking trips to Southampton, England (1958), also Port of Spain, Balboa, Papeete, Suva, Auckland, Sydney, Melbourne, Fremantle, Durban, Cape Town and Las Palmas.

1966 seems to be the last mention of any association with NZICMA that is on record. Leo died in1967, and the business seems to have gone on until 1978, around the year his widow Ivy passed away. Perhaps the inheritor(s) decided to call it a day. I’d place a bet that like just about every smaller (or even larger) ice cream business, it was probably snapped up by General foods and subsumed.

1957  Leo Francis & Robert James Hart 152 Greenlane MAUNFACTURERS edit copy

Electoral roll showing the Harts working as well as residing at 152 Greenlane Road, in 1957. Previous to this Leo had continued to describe himself modestly as “dairyman.”

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Leo’s son Robert James Hart had married Shirley Rose in 1958, and they were living at 11 Lochinver Rd, Papatoetoe for many years (up until then he had lived with his parents). From the mid-1950s he had always described himself as “manufacturer” like his father. However from after Leo’s death he henceforth gave his profession as “manager.”

Robert had moved to Main Road, Paerata near Pukekohe, around 1978, and then to Paerata Road by 1981 – where he had clearly left the ice cream gig for good, and was now in the gardening business. He passed away in October 2011, seemingly taking the history of Harts Ice Cream with him. They did have at least one child so perhaps one day someone will see this article and add some information to it. It would be nice also to have any kind of advertisement, to add to the story for interest.

At the back of a car park, that takes up most of the area fronting onto the street at numbers 150-156 Greenlane Road today- there is still a modest mid-century house, now an office, next to an older-style, slope-roofed building. No doubt this was once the factory where the Harts made cold, creamy treats for nearly forty years.

Credits: Thanks to Karen Ruane from The New Zealand Ice Cream Manufacturers’ Assn (Inc), http://www.nzicecream.org.nz/, and also Chris Newey from Foodworks On-line – the New Zealand Food & Beverage Directory http://www.foodworks.co.nz/
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All content of Longwhitekid copyright Darian Zam © 2013. 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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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/

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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.

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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:


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“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.

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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

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 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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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”.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Self-Sourcing Pudding: Sutherland’s Success

In Custard, Desserts, Fuller Fulton Stores, Jellies, Jelly Crystals, Poplar Stores, Self Help Stores, Sutherland Trust on May 27, 2012 at 10.46

A reproduction I have created of a custard powder can label.  This was in use between 1938-1943 that I know of.

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I’m just going to keep this story of Self Help brief , so I can do a longer, detailed one later in the year with more images. I’m going to focus on the Self Help brand of custard and jelly; I have recreated the box design of their 1936 jelly crystals from a newspaper ad, and also the label from the late 1930s-early 1940s custard powder tin.

This custard container came up on Trademe as part of a larger lot a few months ago and someone else got it. They probably only wanted the variety of Edmonds tins with it, and had no interest in this one or even knew what it was – however I’ve been able to reconstruct the design from the picture. I’ve never seen another one before since.

Evening Post , March 1942 

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I do own a couple of 1930s Self Help cook books which are fairly hard to get hold of. They are quite recent purchases of mine – and as such I haven’t really gone through them yet to see what’s in there regarding ads and stuff; Apart from that examples of the early packaging are amazingly far and few between, for what was once one of New Zealand’s biggest and longest running chain food Stores – and spanning nearly half a century. Occasionally a 1949 board game called “Rugger”, which they issued for the All Blacks tour of South Africa,  pops up for auction – but they didn’t have a wide variety of promotional items to the extent of Four Square stores.

A reproduction I have created of a 1938 jelly crystal box. I have based the colours on the custard can label. The packaging was different in 1935, and had changed again in 1936. 

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Self Help was started in 1922 and by the early 1940s there were around 200 stores dotted about the country; but yet again it’s another brand that is unbelievably almost forgotten today. Apart from their own brand stores they had many more that didn’t go under the Self Help name such as Poplar Stores and Fuller-Fulton’s which I covered here mid- last year :

https://longwhitekid.wordpress.com/2011/07/25/fuller-surprises/

Self Help custard and De-Luxe fruit extract. De-Luxe was another Self Help brand of the 1930s-1940s which also included jelly crystals, culinary essences, coffee, biscuits, coffee essence, and chocolate bars. Evening Post, January 1941. 

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The business was founded by Ben Sutherland who attempted to create a food co-op for the workers at New Zealand Railways where he worked. After decades with the organisation he was near retirement and his concept was a bit of a gamble to say the least. He found there was little support for his idea and scant interest in the shares that were being offered.

Nine flavours of jelly crystals, Evening Post, January 1938. 

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Apparently in some sort of conflict with Railways management of over this issue, he ended up leaving not long after – and branched out on his own. In just over a year later he had seven stores and more on the way. The philosophy of the Self Help stores was to sell goods to the public for as little profit as possible, which sounds pretty ridiculous now in a world of corporate fat cats that only care for high margins. As a result the brand was embraced immediately, outside of his former organisation, and became hugely successful.

 Self Help store on the west side of Main Street, Upper Hutt, circa 1950. Courtesy of  Upper Hutt  City Library collection ref P2-162-274

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Eventually Self Help was one of the biggest chain stores in New Zealand, just behind Foodstuffs (NZ) Ltd’s Four Square stores. Not long after Woolworths launched their first dedicated food store at New Lynn’s Lynnmall in 1963 and were in the process of taking over the country, they purchased the Self Help chain in 1971 and quickly phased it out – replacing all the stores with their own brand.

Five flavours of Self Help  Custard , Evening Post, September 1937.

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The legacy lives on today in the Sutherland Trust which has distributed the equivalent of around sixty five million dollars to various charities. Although their endeavours quickly made the Sutherland family wealthy themselves – it’s a rare “feelgood story” of people that just wanted to help others have a better quality life. And it was successful in all respects and continues to be so. Thankfully every once in a while even today there are still people that have that idea in mind; instead of corporate profit margins- a better world for all.

Addendum mid-June 2012: I acquired two Self Help custard ads in the meantime, which I am adding here below. The colour ad dates from 1939, and clearly shows the packaging I recreated above, in use. The second one dates from 1932 and shows an older version of the can.


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Bite Size: Refreshments Repackaged

In Desserts, Jellies, Jelly Crystals, Sunshine, Tucker, W F Tucker & Co Ltd on May 13, 2012 at 10.46

I’ve recreated these Sunshine jelly crystal boxes in all six flavours that were in the range of the time (with a small amount of artistic license on a couple of the colour schemes) from images a couple of collectors have uploaded to Flickr over the last  year or so.

Once the second lot had appeared online, I became interested to know how more than two enthusiasts managed to get mint condition flat boxes for the same product, seemingly around the same time. Although it should be noted that the premium cards were cut out of the packaging and collected – the boxes were still retained by someone. For what reason they, presumably a child -would have kept them afterwards, if not for scrap-booking – I can’t imagine. Anyway what were the chances that a whole bunch of them should turn up at the same time? Unlikely.

Apparently these were for sale on Ebay Australia around five to six years ago, as far as one of the buyers remembers. Apart from that I don’t really know anything of the provenance, and why items from a New Zealand brand were being offered outside of the country. Having that background information can tell you a lot about a company and its products over time, such as was the previous owner an employee? Or maybe just a pack rat? Either way, it’s usually worth trying to follow up and see what one can find out because you never know where it will lead you next.

They may look like they date from the late 1950s-early 1960s era; but apparently these actually date from the early seventies, around 1971 (noting imperial is still used in the design, they would definitely be from before 1972). I’ve already previously discussed my thoughts on this very subject and how The Land of the Long White Shroud, as I like to call it,  was lagging behind in the post WWII years.

Things were a bit old-fashioned to say the least and the Kiwis remained very much tied to Mother England’s apron strings, whereas Australia embraced US-style popular culture in a much bigger way. That said, this design was very “American” in its approach, I think.

Kiwiana enthusiast Steve Williams says: “They were a bit behind the times as most of these pictures on the cards are from Project Gemini, and they even include a picture of Ed White who spacewalked in 1965 and died in the Apollo 1 fire of 1967″.

That gives a nice five year window at the most – but the packaging was definitely revised post 1964 anyway – as I’ve seen the set from that year, and posted a recreation  here when I previously wrote on the Sunshine brand and Auckland company W.F. Tucker and Co Ltd in June last year:

https://longwhitekid.wordpress.com/2011/06/03/aint-no-sunshine/

And here, an even earlier 1950s version of their box :

https://longwhitekid.wordpress.com/2011/09/07/a-product-shines-again/

In the meantime I’ve gathered a lot more information as well as images but they will have to be for the future post, when I recap on the brand.

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.

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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!

Tasteful Transformation: Tip-Top’s TT2 and Moggy Man

In Dairy, Dairy Products, Desserts, Frozen Foods, General Foods Corporation (NZ) Ltd, Ice Cream, Kiwi Classics, Longwhitekid merchandise, Moggy Man, Moggy Man TT2, Tip-Top, Tip-Top Popsicles, TT2 on April 17, 2012 at 10.46

Here’s a recreation of a tatty Moggy Man sandwich board sign for a dairy business,  below, which came up for sale a couple of weeks ago and sold for over  350 dollars; he was the character representing a long gone Tip-Top brand which was shelved in the early 1970s – now it seems highly desirable to collectors.

I’ve already made my way through half of what will no doubt be a significant article on Tip-Top to be published sometime in the next few weeks, so I’ll just give you the bare bones background here.

TT-2 registered trademark, circa 1957

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Tip-Top was the brainchild of two friends, Albert Hayman and Len Malaghan who decided to open an ice cream parlour. The first one was in Manners Street, Wellington and threw its doors open in 1936. Such a success it was – that within just a couple of years they had a string of them dotted around the lower half of the North Island and the top of the South.

TT-2 Moonraider POS poster for dairies, circa  1967, courtesy of Fonterra’s Tip-Top archives.

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By 1938 they had officially formed a company and were manufacturing their own product. The rest, as they say in the tired old world of cliché, is history – and today it can truly be considered one of few truly iconic brands – in fact they are celebrating their 75th birthday this year.

 TT-2 wrapper, early-mid 1960s, courtesy of Fonterra’s Tip-Top archives.

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With somewhere near fifty million litres of ice cream being churned out annually ( literally as well as figuratively), dozens of products on the market and selling internationally – the business ,now under the jurisdiction of Fonterra Co-operative Group, shows no sign of fading away by any means. Not bad going for a company that started out as one milk bar, with  an ice cream confection named after a cow (the Topsy, which is still on the market today).

 TT-2 wrapper, early-mid 1960s, courtesy of Fonterra’s Tip-Top archives.

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Moggy Man was a Tip-Top brand that began life around the late 1950s as the extremely successful TT-2 ice block – one of the earlier Tip-Top brands that were considered a “novelty” line at the time – that said, anything that wasn’t cone ice cream was considered as such. It was an abbreviation of Tip-Top (TT) with a “2” which indicated it’s relegation to second tier product as it was an ice confection – whereas everything else at the time contained  a degree of dairy; mainly cream.

 TT-2 Moonraider wrapper, early-mid 1960s, courtesy of Fonterra’s Tip-Top archives.

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Many baby boomers recall their childhood and fondly remember the TT-2 range in uncomplicated flavours like orange, pineapple, raspberry, coca cola, lime and lemonade – a reflection of simpler times in sunny summer days. By the early to mid 1960s the more sophisticated themes and flavours of Pineapple Pole, Jaffa Dip, Banana Shake, Raspberry Dazzle, Squidley Twin (an Octopus theme in two flavours), Sweet Orange, Milkshake, Hokey Pokey, White Lemonade, and Moonraider were being tried out on the more adventurous tastebuds of the public.

 TT-2 wrapper, early-mid 1960s, courtesy of Fonterra’s Tip-Top archives.

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Sometime around the end of 1967 or so, the character had been introduced to make a conglomeration “Moggy Man TT2”, a “space-shaped ” ice (not as interesting as it sounds) with milk and extra sugar added – and new varieties to go with this revamped theme of Sunspot, Meteor, Lunar, and with the former Moonraider continued.

Moggy Man TT2 wrapper, circa 1968

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By 1968 the old part of the name had been completely resigned to the scrapheap and the character stood alone as a brand with the space motif continued in varieties like Star Strobe, Red Rocket, Concorde (orange and lemon), Astro Flash, and Zero X .

Moggy Man TT2 wrapper, circa 1968

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However he seemed to be fizzling out and the last ad I’ve seen in the early 1970s shows basic raspberry, chocolate, lime, and orange milk ices in the range. He must have vanished into a black hole soon after – I suspect he was gone by 1974. I  certainly don’t remember Moggy Man being around – and he was eventually replaced a few years later by the Popsicle range – “coolest band in the land”. They weren’t really…the whole “ice lolly as faux rock star” campaign and branding was kind of tacky. Bring back MM, I say – he was much neater!

 I found this document for the Moggy Man character being registered to Peters Ice Cream of NSW, circa 1968. I don’t understand what this is about or why they had posession of the brand at the same time as Tip-Top. I can only imagine it was a licensing deal to launch the brand in Australia, because Peters were  only present in New Zealand in the 1930s and didn’t make a “comeback” until the 1990s.I find no further mention of a presence outside of New Zealand, so one can assume it was not a success. 

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Moggy Man POS poster for dairies, circa 1970, courtesy of Fonterra’s Tip-Top archives.

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I’ve got my high quality recreation of the Moggy Man poster for sale on Redbubble store as posters here;

http://www.redbubble.com/people/darianzam/works/8731662-untitled?p=poster

and cards here.

http://www.redbubble.com/people/darianzam/works/8731662-tip-top-moggy-man?c=130101-kiwiana-cards

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Addendum, mid-October 2012:   I was wondering why I never found this advert until now. This is why – In a very weird coincidence Archives NZ uploaded it the very same day I published my article. Now what are the chances of that? This ad pinpoints the above poster to circa 1970 when Astro Flash and Zero X were probably first released.

How It All Pans Out

In Blue Moon Ice Cream, cordial, Crystal Springs Aerated Water Factory, Dairy Products, Denne Brothers, Desserts, Fonterra, Frozen Foods, Frozen Vegetables, Hellaby's, Ice Cream, Pastry, Peter Pan Frozen Foods Ltd, Peter Pan ice cream, Rush Munro, soft drink, Tip-Top, Tokomaru Steam Engine Museum on April 9, 2012 at 10.46

This point-of-sale poster probably dates from the mid-late 1960s and was no doubt created for dairy (milkbar) promotion.

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Working on this project it constantly reminds me, as well as amazes me, that something that was so popular for so long – can seemingly disappear, almost without a trace. I also find it surprising that something that has been such a part of people’s lives – in this case a district’s main employer too – can fade from the memory so quickly and be forgotten within just a few years.

When you ask people about Peter Pan ice cream most of them remember it well. Yet it has taken me about a year to scratch together information for the story on the once renowned brand that shut up shop as late as the early 1980s; and although famous for their ice creams and novelty ice confections – it actually goes back much further than their two Waipukurau-based factories which were landmarks for many years. In fact the brand was started by T.C. (Thomas Clement) Denne who had quite a history in manufacture prior to that era. Actually, Denne Brothers started as a soft drink concern that went right back to at least the 1910s.

This painted tin sign probably dates from the 1950s.

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The Denne family originally hailed from Canterbury, Kent in the U.K., with T.C.’s second cousin William Henry Denne arriving to New Zealand in 1851; and T.C.’s father Clement Denne following with his wife Alice and one month old daughter Lucy aboard the “Wild Deer” – apparently in 1875. However sales records of 1873 clearly show they bought land so we can presume that William helped; he probably scouted and bought property for them at their request – or it was purchased on spec. The family settled in Mataura in the lower South Island, where we find Clement selling his land as well as a blacksmith’s business (his trade) by 1890. Several years later a smithy business in the same town is being advertised as ex a certain John Denne – perhaps Clement’s older brother (born 1829) who may have joined them and set up shop too – or just another error of details in reportage we so often encounter in newspapers of those times.

T.C was born in 1882 and apart from school notices where an Alice, Emily and Lottie Denne are also name-checked (likely sisters) the first mention of him in the media comes in 1897 when as a fifteen year old he was injured on the job in a rather nasty accident. Mataura was chiefly famous for their paper mill and still is – and it was here, presumably on his first foray into the workforce from school that T.C had his hand crushed and de-gloved between some rollers, involving skin grafts from other parts of his body to repair the serious damage.
By 1904 T.C. was located in Milton, not far from Mataura, as first secretary then later deputy bandmaster of the town’s brass band, performing with both Baritone and Euphonium Tubas. Music – particularly brass bands – was to remain a life-long love, and regardless of what lingering effects of his paper mill accident had – he did not let it hold him back in his endeavours.

This backlit perspex sign probably dates from the 1960s, likely for the interior of a milkbar or cafe.

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I believe his family probably remained in the Mataura-Milton area but we can conject that T.C. somehow moved into the cordial and soft drink industry gaining experience, possibly moving to another area on his way to the lower North Island. By 1915 he had appeared in Masterton where he had opened a factory with a depot at 169 Queen Street for both retail and wholesales; Denne’s Aerated Waterworks was producing aerated water, soda, hop ale, ginger beer, ginger ale, as well as sarsaparilla and raspberry cordials, and not long after he acquired modern technology and introduced his Fruity Lemonade sealed in a new-fangled crown seal bottle.
At the same time he was producing Denne’s Golden Malt Pure Table Vinegar from an Eketahuna set-up – and a later mention in a newspaper of 1919 states that T.C. Denne “was for some years in business at Eketahuna, and has been established in Masterton four years”.  So, likely that business existed for some time before the Masterton factory; and was perhaps dispensed with sometime after 1916 since there is no mention of it again that I can find.

Denne sells up in Masterton and moves on; Wairarapa Daily Times, 2 December 1919.

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Between 1916-1919 advertisements for Denne’s Delicious Drinks, as they were now being touted, make mention of Wairarapa as a “dry district” and he was marketing in both bottles and gallon jars the following refreshments- hop beer, dandy shandy, ginger beer, lime juice and soda, squash, and others. The Wairarapa electorate voted to ban production and sale of alcoholic drinks in their district in 1908, and this remained the status quo until it was overturned in 1946 so no doubt the hops ale, beer, and shandy although fermented – were non-alcoholic drink, and his move to the Wairarapa district may have tied in with this prohibition period since his strong ties to the Seventh-day Adventist movement would prescribe no alcohol and caffeine (note he also never seemed to offer cola drinks).
During this time he kept up his musical endeavours, having progressed to the role of conductor for both the Masterton Municipal Silver Band and the Masterton Central Brass Band by 1917.
In 1919 he quit the bands “for business reasons”, and then sold his Masterton factory to a Neil Wotton who renamed the brand Crystal Springs. A newspaper ad also shows him selling a motorbike from 270 Queen Street Masterton, perhaps an new or additional depot to keep up with demand, or- perhaps this was a domestic address.

Denne’s drink varieties for dry districts ; Wairarapa Daily Times , 23 December, 1916.

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By March of 1920 he had departed Masterton for good – being publicly presented with a silver engraved conductor’s baton as a goodbye gift – but where he went and what he was doing for the next decade is at present unknown. That is until he crops up in the paper as having started up a new company to manufacture cordials – T.C. Denne and Co, Ltd, in 1930 in Waipukurau – and the original factory (later known as the Peter Pan No. 1 Factory, unfortunately no images I know of exist) was established in Ruataniwha Street.


Tony Smith, Napier historian and collector says that there is information on Denne drinks that goes from 1938 back to 1926 that he knows of, and these one gallon stone crocks were issued in 1928 as well as 1930, but if that was in another location besides Waipukurau is unknown at present, and still leaves at least six years of the 1920s unaccounted for.

Soft drink and cordial business continued as usual until Denne started making ice cream for sale around 1938, not long after the tragic death of his first son John Clinton Denne in an accident at 22 years old, when his motorcycle hit a truck head on on a highway outside of the town the year previously. I think it’s an interesting point to consider that T.C. embarked on a major diversion from his successful tried and true formula at this time. It must have been a roaring success for by 1940 it had far usurped the drink business – so he let that go, selling that arm of the business first to a Stan Nickle, then Bert Anderson, and later D.H. Newbiggins of Hastings – according to Tony Smith, a Napier-based historian and collector who has been compiling a book on Hawkes Bay cordials, brewery and chemist bottles. I was able to find a Waipukurau based Bert Anderson who sung bass and baritone in bands so that would be the connection; but as for the other two names – no clues (Smith likely means E.J.D. Newbigin who was a well-known Hastings brewer and cordial maker from 1881). From the records it looks like Denne didn’t officially register the Peter Pan ice cream brand until 1946, however they likely started using the name much earlier than that.

The Tokomaru Steam Engine Museum have in their collection a 1937 William Sisson & Co. Ltd. (of Gloucester) model, bought from Denne Brothers, “acquired around 1967. It was going to be used as a standby generator if there was a power cut. I presume (they divested it) when the factory no longer had a need for a steam engine. As far as we know the Dennes never used it” says Esma Stevenson, curator. It must have been bought around 1940 when there was a decisive direction to go into the ice confection business permanently.
T.C. passed away in 1950 and it seems that his two remaining sons Tom Jr. (Thomas Vernon Denne 1917-1983) and Haydn ( an unusual spelling he adopted of his birth name Maxwell Hayden Denne, 1921- 2008) inherited the business. From then on it was known unofficially as Denne Brothers, and then later on as Peter Pan Frozen Foods. They well and truly took control and redirected the branding, and were beginning to expand and market the name with fervour.

This galvanized metal and wood, hand-painted  sandwich-board sign probably dates from the 1960s, for the side walk outside of a dairy, milkbar or cafe.

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There were two factories in the town that came to be known as numbers 1 and 2. Peter Pan No .1 factory was at 177-183 Ruawahine Street andthe corner of Cook Street,Waipukurau (now 2 Takapu Road). It was the original T.C. Denne & Co’s drinks building and was an expansive premises. This was where ice cream tubs and packs, waffle cones for the Trumpets and also for retail sale, and later in the early 1970s doughnuts were all made, as well as serving as “head office”. The offices and waffle-making room were on the second floor. The waffle cones were made for the Drumstick ice creams,  the slices, and they were also packed into boxes as their own individual product which were then sold throughout different shops says Pam Blackberry, who worked on that line for a couple of years in the late 1960s. This rambling establishment probably had many additions over time – records show a dispute that went to court with the local council over redevelopment in 1966. Haydn Denne lived in Cook Street opposite where No. 1 factory was until he passed away in 2008. You can see a photo of the factory in my previous post here:

https://longwhitekid.wordpress.com/2011/04/11/neverbland/

A reconstructed wrapper of the popular  Treasure Tip  – an ice block with a jelly baby in it. This dates from the mid to late 1960s and obviously the same artist that designed all the posters I’ve featured so far over the last year or so.

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Approximately a kilometre further away on Takapu Road, Waipukurau was No. 2 – which was focussed on the ice confections, and frozen foodstuffs arms of the business.

As well as ice cream produced in cones, slices, Drumsticks, and a variety of pint and quart boxes in flavours like Bonanza, Cherry Chequer, Vanilla Supreme and Golden Whip – Former employees of the early 1960s onwards remember in particular the highly popular novelties Nutty Cha Chas (ice cream dipped in chocolate with nuts), Pink Elephants (pink ice cream rolled in chocolate flakes), Tutti Fruttis, Jelly Tips (ice cream coated in chocolate with a tip made of jelly ) and the popular Jolli-Lollis “which was an iceblock mix in a sachet”, says Tony Dean. “The Jolli-Lollis were like cordial mixed up in big vats then pumped through a machine into the plastic sachets and sealed, then packed into boxes and frozen, and that is how the shops got them – this was the machine I worked at, The only time I ventured into the freezer was to put the boxes of ice blocks away once they got packed, and then it was in and out fast”, recounts Pam Blackberry. “(There was a) fear of being locked in those freezers!” remembers Hazel Hori.
The ice confections were produced specifically out of the No.2 Factory and some were the Lime Ice Delite, Fruit Salad, Peter-Cream, Red Rocket, Blueberry (blackberry and lemonade flavour), Scramble, Orange Sparkle, and the Dazzle which I posted on here:

https://longwhitekid.wordpress.com/2011/06/21/petering-out/

Margaret Gee was employed from 1964-1968. “I worked at Peter Pan for four years as a churn operator filling the moulds that were then placed into the brine tanks”. Tony Dean worked from the mid to late 1960s for several years and “from what I can remember the moulds in which the ice block shapes were made held about 20 items, and a stick holder was put in the top of the mould. The moulds were put in a tank of brine for about twenty minutes and when taken out were inserted in a tank of hot water for a few seconds to release the product; and were then put through the wrapping machine. The refrigerant used was ammonia”.
A Peter Pan specialty were novelty ice blocks with confectionery imbedded in them. Tony Dean recalls “the Treasure Tip, with a jelly baby in the tip – the jelly babies were inserted manually in each mould” – others were the Red Knight with a “Honey Bunny” and the Hello Dolly of the late 1960s had a “Dolly Lolly”.

https://longwhitekid.wordpress.com/2011/09/05/sugary-strategies-and-delicious-devices/

There were probably many more variations perhaps capitalising on popular culture of the time.

A reconstructed wrapper of the Jolli-Lolli  – an ice block sealed in a plastic sachet and frozen.

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By 1966 at the latest Peter Pan were producing frozen foods from the No. 1 factory , and Tony Dean remembers Peter Pan had a fleet of trucks to handle a contract to distribute frozen foods around the North Island for Hellaby’s (probably most well-known to Kiwis for canned corned beef), in particular – chickens, and frozen vegetables including peas. Posters advertising products of the mid-late 1960s show frozen flaky puff pastry on offer, and a range of ready-to-cook fast foods that were probably wholesaled to takeaway businesses such as spring rolls, curry rice rolls, steak cobs, fish cobs, chicken croquettes, and hamburger rolls (not bread buns – probably a deep fried meat filled pastry not unlike the Australian Chiko Roll, given the nature of the rest of the range they had at the time) . There was also a line of syrups for milkshakes, thickshakes and sundaes, probably also coming out of the No. 1 premises given the related products.

A reconstructed wrapper of the popular Pink Elephant  – a pink ice cream rolled in chocolate flakes. This dates from the mid to late 1960s.

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Tony Dean says “The Dennes were excellent bosses to work for. On Friday nights every staff member used to get 1 litre of ice cream and a pack of frozen peas, and at Christmas time a frozen chook as well”. Augustine Dunbar , who worked 1972-1974 also recalls “they used to give us 3 quart boxes on Friday (I’m not sure if she means three separate quart boxes, or the three pint box).
“I used to love eating the ice cream straight out of the churn before it went into the containers and freezers. Also the jelly babies, the chocolate, strawberries and peanuts before they went into the production line. It is probably one of the best jobs I had”, says Tony Dean. “Finger-dipping into the ice-cream straight out of the churn I remember (well), the foul smell of the chocolate melting”, adds Hazel Hori.
The company even had their own “Peter Pan Bus” that travelled to and from Waipawa and Waipukurau to pick up staff of a morning and drop them off in the evening. The Dennes were known as fair and generous employers; and so many people from the surrounding area were employed it was worthwhile. Hazel Hori who worked there between 1963-1965 remembers: “Many “Ypuk” (Waipukurau) people spent part of their working lives at Peter Pan factory. My dad Henry Munday worked at Peter Pan for many years, my mother joined the staff in the 1970s, my brother Eric worked there too for a time , along with me – during the school holidays packing ice blocks and ice creams” – it was almost a rite of passage to do at least a short stint there first before leaving the security of the locale heading out into the wide world.

Trucks outside the No.1 Factory in Takapu Road. The part of the building that is still standing today on a mostly vacant lot – can be seen behind far left.

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Trademark records of the early 1970s show product names Country Gold, Fudgsicle, Softee, and Captain Hook products were being manufactured as well as doughnuts being produced in the No. 1 Factory, as briefly mentioned earlier.
Although their father had passed away some time before and their mother Agnes in 1957 – the traditional family faith remained strong. By 1962 the Seventh Day Adventist movement, well-known for their involvement in food product (see my article https://longwhitekid.wordpress.com/2011/11/26/healthy-curiosity/ on Sanitarium) had made the move across the Tasman to the Hawkes Bay area and assumed control of two churches to establish themselves in the local vicinity. In 1965 the devout and by now, no doubt quite prosperous, Denne family donated land for a church and a two-teacher church school. T.C.’s grandson John Denne continues that religious inheritance and is a pastor in Australia.

This point-of-sale poster probably dates from the mid-late 1960s and was no doubt created for takeaway shop promotion.

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As for the mysterious Peter Pan parlour that nobody seemed to recall seeing – after writing to twenty or more people I received a reply from the Eketahuna Museum suggesting that the mystery store may be located in an enclave to the south of Waipukurau, named Norsewood, a Scandinavian-settled town established in the 1870s (hence the name). Since the Dennes never had any relation to this town that I know of – It still left the question of who built it, and more to the point – why? Doug Ellison, Caretaker at Norsewood Pioneer Museum says:
” It wasn’t specifically a Peter Pan store but it sold the ice cream which was just about all we could get (at the time) actually. It was originally just the usual country store, that sold the stuff that any grocery would sell. There was another dairy that sold Peter Pan but it didn’t have a big sign like that. The people that lived in the house did it up to look like the old store at the front, so it would resemble when it was a thriving business – which it hasn’t been for a number of years. I don’t know who owned it at the time. The house is now empty and the building is used as storage. I think it must have been someone from Dannevirke who did a bit of painting about the place to bring it back to what it was. The heritage signs were put around a few old buildings for our festival a couple of years back so that people knew what they had once been. I don’t remember any other (local) brand for sale in the area except Rush Munro, who had a place in Hastings, about 1000 Herataunga Street East – it was called Blue Moon (Rush Munro’s is still open at 704 West, and is arguably New Zealand’s oldest ice cream brand – I’ll post on this story later in the year).

The remaining part of the far left side of the Peter Pan No. 1 Factory on  the corner of Takapu Road and Cook Street, Wapukarau -which has now been somewhat remodelled. 

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John Denne, Tom Denne Jr.’s son was managing the business for some time, but left the town for good in 1971. According to records I’ve found Peter Pan was offering redundancy packages to employees at the end of the 1970s so they must have hit a spot of financial troubles, that or behemoth Tip-Top had stepped in and major changes were afoot. Most people seem to remember the factory being open until at least the early eighties when the rights were probably sold to Tip-Top.
Jan Gosling, one of the curators at Waipawa Museum remembers “when we moved to Waipawa in 1990 the old Peter Pan buildings were still there (in Waipukurau), with faded labels of the ice cream factory (on the walls) and it always seemed a little sad. It’s funny how when things disappear or change into something else you forget about what was there before”. Sometime after that they were demolished; “there isn’t much left of that (factory) now” says Pam Blackberry. The only remains I can spot are the far left side of the structure which has been somewhat remodelled and serves as the Hatuma Engineering Supplies premises.
The original Ruawahine Street No. 1 factory’s site closer to town is renumbered and the street renamed; and the allotment now has a new, one story building, the Central Hawkes Bay Health Centre, set back on the corner of it but is a mostly unobstructed tract of vacant land on the corner where the expansive buildings of Peter Pan Frozen Foods used to be a town landmark.

Mystery finally solved – the tribute to Peter Pan Ice Cream in the small town of Norsewood, was created for fun to replicate an old town general store that originally had a sign like this when it was operating.

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Although the brand name has remained in limbo for nearly thirty years with the trademark rights renewed to Tip-Top Investments as part of Fonterra Brands Limited, it finally lapsed and was cancelled at the end of 2010, bringing the saga of the  Peter Pan brand to a close for good. Not for me though – the story still has some gaping holes such as – how did Denne enter the business and learn his trade?, and what he was doing between 1920 in Masterton and 1930 in Wairarapa? I’m hoping that I’ll find out more so stay tuned.

As usual, I have a large rollcall of people to thank for memories, images, leads, information and tip-offs: Jana Uhlirova, curator, Central Hawkes Bay Settler’s Museum, Pam Blackberry (1968-1970) and Tony Dean (1966-1973), ex-employees of Peter Pan Frozen Foods; Andy May and Donna Gwen Hoby, one time acquaintances of the Dennes, Colin and Esma Stevenson, owners and curators at the Tokomaru Steam Museum, Doug Ellison, Caretaker at Norsewood Pioneer Museum, Tony Smith , historian and collector for information on Denne drinks, Brian Turner for image of Denne crock, Jan Gosling, curator at Waipawa Museum.

Edmonds: Taking The Cake

In Acto baking powder, Allen and Sons, Allen's confectionery, Architecture, Baking, Bird's custard, Biscuits, Borwick's baking powder, Cakes, Classics, Custard, Desserts, Edmonds, Fielder's Cornflour, Goodman Fielder, Jellies, Jelly Crystals, John Thomas Edmonds, Moa baking powder, Philanthropy, Sharland and Co, Sure To Rise Cookbook on January 31, 2012 at 10.46

I suppose that eventually I had to get around to doing a post on Edmonds. I mean, it’s so obvious a brand that I almost don’t know where to start -when I look at my collection of images I literally have over 150 advertisements, tins, boxes, and cookbook pages to choose from to illustrate an article. No doubt I’ll do at least another three posts over time on Edmonds in different categories given the volume of material I have.
Even though I’ve always been in love with the Edmond’s baking powder package design (which has changed very little from inception, that’s a big part of its charm) I’ve been putting it off .

A chemist, Ron, who worked at the Edmonds factory remembers these “Slip over” labels being glued on thousands of cans which were left overnight on long tables to dry. He kept one and donated it to Kete Christchurch. Later they were made redundant as the design was printed straight on the metal (previous picture, can probably dates from late 1960s- mid 1970s, and is from my personal collection).

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This is because it  always seems almost pointless given that when people think of Kiwiana -the images that come to mind are the ubiquitous Buzzy Bees, Pavlova, Jandals, Ches and Dale, Kiwifruits, gum boots,  fish and chips,  and more often than not Edmonds baking powder is chucked in –  so well-known is it as one of  New Zealand’s most popular and enduring Brands.  In fact at one time Edmonds were so aware of this that they were even using the slogan “part of New Zealand’s heritage” on the packaging.

“Kiwiana” stamp set issued by New Zealand Post in 2008.

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It’s even been featured as a stamp design more or less intended to be recognised by the font alone – just by the letter E. But I guess my modus operandi has from the outset been to cover the obvious as well as the obscure. So here we go.

Back is inscribed”Thomas Edward Edmonds selling baking powder door to door”. I am assuming this is a simple error with the middle name. Kete Christchurch. Probably the early 1880s.

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Thomas John Edmonds (1858-1932), was born in Poplar, a suburb of London, and had the  previous background of having worked for Allen’s,  the well-known confectionery company which like Edmonds  has stood the test of time and is still going today.
He arrived in Lyttleton, Canterbury on the sailing ship Waitangi as a twenty year old  in 1879 having just married his wife Jane . He didn’t waste any time and immediately  established a grocery business in Woolston, Christchurch  (the site is now the south-west comer of what is now Edmond and Randolph Streets ) where he began by manufacturing sherbet.

Edmonds advertisement, Evening Post  8 March 1937.

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It wasn’t long before he was carefully listening to the complaints about other products on the market such as the unreliability of the available baking powder brands (it was first invented by chemist Alfred Bird of Bird’s Custard fame in 1843 from a mix of sodium bicarbonate, cream of tartar and cornstarch for his yeast-allergic wife).

Edmonds advertisement, Colonist, 9 November 1910.

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Looking around for ideas to boost business, and thinking he could most likely do better, he started experimenting out the back of his shop to create a superior product to others that were on the market – amongst them Borwick’s, Hudson’s , Hudson’s Balloon Brand, as well as Sharland and Co’s Moa and self-named brands ( Surely it couldn’t have been any worse than what was on offer from Sharland here in my favourite story by Lisa Truttman at Timespanner – ” A jam roll death in Freeman’s Bay”  http://tinyurl.com/6pta9xt ).

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A rare bulk Edmonds baking powder tin. I’ve never seen another.

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Edmonds advert circa 1907, Printed Ephemera Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library (Ref: Eph-A-VARIETY-1907-01-centre]

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It wasn’t long before he presented his own product with the first 200 tins going on sale before the year was out. The story goes that upon being questioned whether his powder would be as good for the job he confidently (and probably a little tartly, the way I imagine it) replied “Madam, it is SURE to rise”, and thus gave birth to an instantly recognisable slogan and subsequent “sunray” trademark which has been in use now for more than 130 years.

Tea Ohou Journal, Spring 1953, National Library NZ.

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He was a man of astuteness when it came to marketing techniques; and full of innovative ideas. Initially he tackled the low demand for his product by going door-to-door with sample-size tins to spruik his product and offering to take back any that were not met with satisfaction.
Next he offered a free cookbook to any housewife that wrote in asking for a copy. The famous Edmonds  cookery book was first issued in 1907. It started life as the “Sure To Rise Cookery Book” , with only fifty pages of recipes. Only two known copies of the first edition survive making it a very rare item.

Egg powder made an apparently brief appearance in the scheme of things, in comparison to other Edmonds products – lasting only between the 1880s and 1910s. Courtesy of the NZ Electronic Text Centre.

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As of 2008, with a 60th  edition issued, it has been in print for over 100 years.  At one time it was “sent unsolicited to every newly engaged couple in New Zealand” whose commitment appeared in print. A little presumptuous and risky –  but ultimately good publicity I guess,  as it has now sold well over three million copies and is the country’s bestselling book  of all time. Full of no-fail recipes for everything  from chocolate fudge to bacon and egg pie, It’s now apparently considered a sort of Kiwi rite of passage  to receive a copy from your mother when you first leave home.

The Guthrie-designed building of 1922 which has become an iconic image.

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Small printed metal Acto tin, probably mid 1960s.

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Eventually with his clever strategies to publicise the product, demand grew to the point that by 1912 he was moving one million cans a year, and by 1928 – two and a half million.
During the depression years he was the first to introduce a forty hour,  five day week to his workers, changing the face of employment in New Zealand irrevocably. He even helped his workers with their mortgages.

Tinted powder seems to have been a somewhat superfluous Edmonds product in the late 1940s-early 1950s, hence didn’t have a robust lifespan.

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In the early 1890s he was becoming fairly established and built a large wooden shed for manufacturing in Ferry Road, not that far away from the original grocery shop. In 1922 Edmonds  replaced this building with his landmark Guthrie brothers-designed  “Sure to Rise” factory and expressed his great interest in botany with its elaborate circular gardens; hothouses on the grounds were filled with imported tropical plants were open to the public and employees alike for their enjoyment. Always at the forefront of cutting edge ideas, Edmonds prescribed to the early 20th century European “Garden City Movement” of which the main concept was that “factory owners should provide recreation facilities for their workers, and beautify the surroundings of their factories”

Large printed metal tin which probably dates from the mid-late 1960s, from my personal collection. This design was also on a cardboard box, and was still in use when I was a child in the early 1970s.

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The iconic building is the one that has been featured on the covers of the cookbooks ever since. In what is considered quite a controversial and rather stupid move, it was demolished in 1990 and the gardens destroyed . So much for “part of New Zealand’s heritage”. The land to the west was bought by the Christchurch City Council the following year and Bluebird Foods Ltd donated the money required for a recreation of the gardens in 1992 – again an attraction.

The former 1929 Band Rotunda is now a restaurant honouring Edmonds’ name.

The couple were great philanthropists and the Edmonds family substantially funded or donated many landmarks in Christchurch city including parks, the Theosophical Society building in Cambridge Terrace, the Radiant Hall (now the Repertory Theatre) in Kilmore Street, and for the fifty year anniversary of their arrival they donated the Band Rotunda (now the Thomas Edmonds Restaurant) in Cambridge Terrace, the clock tower and telephone cabinet in Oxford Terrace – amongst others.

A cake baking powder tin that probably dates from the late 1950s-early 1960s. (I’m not sure what differentiates this product from Acto or the regular Edmond’s product).

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Edmonds maize cornflour ad, Tea Ohou Journal, Spring 1954, National Library NZ.

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Fielder’s  cornflour box from my personal collection, late 1980s-early 1990s

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Apart from the perpetual baking powder product range (Edmonds , Sure To Rise, Acto , Cake Baking Powder, and briefly coloured Cake Baking Powder in the late 1940s), Edmonds have also produced custard powder (“Sure To Please”) since at least 1907 in several varieties from raspberry to banana cream, as well as being famous for their jelly in many flavours. Fielder’s Cornflour, Edmonds maize cornflour and wheat cornflour have been a range staple for many decades. The 1960s and 1970s saw instant drinks and desserts like Tang and Jiffy Jel added to the brands’ products, along with the Prima pasta range, Coat’n’Cook for baking and frying, cake and pastry mixes, and instant meals like boxed risotto.

Edmond’s Jelly box, early 1970s.  Photo courtesy of  courtesy of Mike Davidson (Kiwigame on Flickr) . Below baking powder tin dates from the early 1950s, Object number CT78.283, photo from the collection of Owaka Museum Wahi Kahuika The Meeting Place “a rest on your journey”.

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Today the brand is a division of  Goodman Fielder Ltd and the company currently produces nearly 60 products from dressings to bread baking mix.

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Thomas John Edmonds is now considered one of New Zealand’s top 100 most influential people of all time, all because of a couple of dud cakes.

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Addendum early January 2013:

thoms edmonds band rotunda destroyed By shelby-dog flickr EDIT

Unfortunately the Thomas Edmonds Rotunda was badly damaged in the Christchurch quakes and is set to be demolished, if it hasn’t already been done. The ruins are at the least fenced off but it doesn’t look like there is any hope of saving it at all. The above photo shows the wreckage of this lovely example of public architecture – almost  like it has been sheared off with a gigantic knife. Image courtesy of and © all rights reserved by shelby-dog on Flickr.

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Edmonds 1st edition 2nd printing mith & anthony 1909 2 EDIT

A 1st edition, 2nd printing published by Mith & Anthony in 1909 turned up for sale on Trade Me in December. Bidding was extremely fierce for this very rare item and it went for around the $750.00 mark. The following week a 2nd edition, 2nd printing went for around $450.00. In five years these are the only ones I have seen for sale publicly.

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All content of Longwhitekid copyright Darian Zam © 2012. All rights reserved.

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