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Archive for the ‘Food Fair’ Category

Power Outlet: The Force of Four Square and Foodstuffs NZ Ltd

In "K" Brand, 4 Triangle, AG Stores, Arrow Butter, Auckland Master Grocers' Association, Baker's Review, Budget brand, Central Provision Stores, Checkout Four Square board game, Cheeky Charlie, Ches and Dale, CPS Stores, Dick Frizzell, Dormer-Beck, Farmer's, Farmer's Co-op, Farmer's Trading Co., Fletcher's Stores, Food Fair, Foodstuffs (NZ) Ltd, Four Square, Four Square Stores (Australia) Pty Ltd, Four Square Supermarkets, Four Triangle, Green and Colebrook stores, Grocers' Review, Icon Products, John Heaton Barker, Kirkpatrick, Laidlaw Leeds mail order company, Ltd, McKenzies stores, Mr. Four Square, National Cash Register Co, New World Supermarkets, New Zealand Grocer's and Baker's Review, New Zealand Grocergram, New Zealand Master Baker's associatio, NZ Master Grocer's Association, NZ Master Grocer's Federation, Pak 'N' Save supermarkets, Pam's Products, Rawakelle tea, S Kirkpatrick and Co Ltd, Self Help Stores, Sir Harry Heaton Barker, Te Aroha Dairy Company, The Farmers Union Trading Company, Triangle brand, Uncategorized, United Buyers, Wattie's, Weston-Frizzell, Woolworth's Food Fair, Woolworth's stores, Woolworth's supermarkets on August 7, 2012 at 10.46

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A recreation I’ve made of a rare Australian contest poster of the 1950s.

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The Four Square brand originally emerged from a grocers’ co-op, which was established based on the concern that competition from grocery chain stores in the New Zealand market place was making business very difficult for small, independent store operators. How much truth there is to this claim is dubious since at that period of time in the early 1920s, the only specific food chain that comes to mind that would have provided any serious competition was Self Help, also a co-operative, which I covered previously in a fairly brief and superficial article of May this year here.

J. T. Hammond’s Mangatoki Four Square with sign writing done by Jack Wood, probably 1930s. Courtesy of the Puke Ariki collection.

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Between just 1922 and 1923, during the initial formation by the Auckland Master Grocers’ Association of what was soon to become Foodstuffs (NZ) Ltd, Self Help had gone from just one store to a string of seven which must have been a frightening concept for anyone in the field looking to the near future and their prospects within.

Logos through the decades, clockwise from left: mid-late 1920s, 1932, late 1950s-early 1960s, mid 1930s-early 1940s, unknown – probably late 1940s , and 1980. From the mid 1950s the logo has remained almost the same in colour and design. a

Although a small company named Fletcher’s can probably lay claim to being the very first “self-service” style enterprise in the history of New Zealand, it had probably fizzled out by the early twenties. However in 1919 Laidlaw Leeds, a very successful mail order company had acquired the Green and Colebrook chain to become Farmer’s Co-op and they opened their twenty-ninth store in 1921. Although a general department store, Farmer’s were marketing at least flour, tea and spices that I am aware of, but hardly specific competition, however – that may have been all it took.

Colouring book produced as a competition promotion in 1954. a

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Since at the time the Self Help concept was a huge revelation in grocery shopping and pricing I can only conject that Foodstuffs (NZ) Ltd was formed in direct response to Self Help’s extremely sudden success within that narrow timeframe – having pushed the situation to the edge. This allegedly pertinent issue was raised by a man named John Heaton Barker – to Auckland’s main grocers’ association, in early July of 1922. The co-op became official when it formed a company – which was registered on 1st of April, 1925. It’s first contract was with Te Aroha Dairy Company to carry their “Arrow” brand butter. Co-operatives were also formed in Wellington (named United Buyers, the same year, 1922, which became the “4 Triangle” chain) and in Christchurch (1928, which was named the “AG Stores”) . By 1935 all these co-ops had already come under the Four Square brand but were now officially renamed branches of Foodstuffs Ltd.

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Advertisement showing the white pepper and cornflour from their self line, Evening Post, March 1934 a

Seemingly well documented, the Foodstuffs legend goes that on the 4th of July 1924, two years into the co-op being formed, Barker, in position of company secretary at this time – was doodling on a pad during a telephone conversation with his colleagues and drew a square around the date. He presented this concept with the buoying manifesto that the group would stand ‘four square to all the winds that blew”.

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Above: Four Square white pepper tin from my own collection. This design was in use during 1934-1935. Below, I’ve recreated the label.

It wasn’t long before the first logos for the brand were bumped into all the stores in the form of hand-painted glass signs, with products appearing under the moniker by the end of that year. A primitive version of the formal logos we know today were going up on stores by 1929, with 4 Triangle, and AG Stores becoming part of Four Square not long after in December 1933 – as well as another co-op which had been formed in Southland (but much later down the track, in 1948) . The distinctive colours, however, were not adopted until 1931 when on a field trip to view a particular store belonging to a Mr. McInnes, the initial tangerine and yellow scheme (with green added to it in the form of the logo) was requisitioned.

Promotional puzzle showing many of Four Square’s line of products circa late 1940s. Image courtesy of the Alexander Turnbull Manuscripts and Pictorial collection. a

By the time the early thirties co-op merger had taken place (of which the date both Fairfax’s Business Hall of Fame profile as well as Foodstuff’s own history quote incorrectly), Four Square now boasted a total of 266 stores nationwide – what can only be described as an explosive success and had far outstripped even the phenomenal growth success of Self Help – and not even bothering to mention any other competition like McKenzies, Woolworths and Farmer’s which were semi- players at best in the burgeoning grocery market at the time. In 1935 the stores bearing Four Square signage were at 285. By the post war years food groceries bearing the Four Square name had shot up to nearly 400 and climbing quickly – 700 by 1950. By 1956 there were an amazing 1000 stores nationwide.

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Promotional game produced in Australia, probably the mid 1960s. a

By some time in the 1950s Foodstuffs (NZ) Ltd had decided to hop the ditch to invade our Australian cousins, as my poster recreation at the head of this post, as well as the  board game on road safety I have found above, attest. By 1980 a Happy Family promotion shows the logo for Australian chain CPS (Central Provision Stores), alongside Four Square and New World’s logos – having been added to the empire via Four Square Stores (Australia) Pty Ltd.

J. Heaton Barker’s new offices bringing everything together under one roof – Auckland Star, 8 October, 1925. a

Barker was one of two children of a family from Derby, Britain. Perhaps his father – mention is made of a John William Barker – stayed behind when he immigrated with his mother and sister in 1886; arriving in Wellington on 6th August aboard the S.S. Ionic. Perhaps he died, and they decided to leave. Whatever the story was, his mother was free to marry a Reverend John Crump seven years later. A devout Christian, J. H. Barker was seriously involved in the Baptist church throughout his life, particularly in Mount Eden, Auckland where he was an elder, and at various times a chair, treasurer, as well as president of the City Baptist Auxiliary.

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Promotional Snap set featuring many popular products sold through Four Square stores; circa late 1950s-early 1960s. a

That was much later on in his life though; originally he settled in Nelson (where he was the facilitator of the PSA or “Pleasant Sunday Afternoon’ movement which had begun in Britain, was active in the Mutual Improvement Society, and on occasion stood in for his local pastor at the pulpit, was a member of council for the NZ Accountant’s and Auditor’s Association, secretary of the Chamber of Commerce, and secretary of the Foreign and British Bible Society).

Promotional Snap set featuring many popular products sold through Four Square stores; circa late 1950s-early 1960s. a

More specifically he had spent time in Richmond to the south-west of the town where he was at one time or another secretary of the Richmond Lawn Tennis Club and also the Workingmen’s Club (I think at this point we can already establish that he was quite the busybody do-gooder). In 1896 he sold up and moved to a more central location in Bronte Street, Nelson.

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In-store Disney promotion – Hutt News, December 1934. a

In an article entitled “Farewell to Mr. and Mrs. Barker” in the Nelson Evening Mail of 14th March, 1901, an interesting mention is made – of Barker’s “severing his connection with S. Kirkpatrick and Co., Ltd” in order to move. This was a popular foodstuffs company primarily famous for their jam, in particular the “K” brand, but ranged across a wide array of products from jelly crystals, canned meat and spices to coffee, poultry tonic, vinegar, honey and baking powder.

Triangle brand products – Evening Post, December 1933 . a

This is a very interesting detail to discover because Kirkpatrick play an intrinsic part in the corporate history of the canned food industry in New Zealand – passing through a number of owners and lasting into 1971 when it was finally dismantled by Wattie’s upon their acquisition of the brand and Nelson factory. In what capacity he worked for the firm is unknown (presumably accounting); but whatever it was he had achieved in just a few short years it was important enough for Mr. Kirkpatrick , the CEO himself, to attend in person and present Barker with a gold Albert fob chain for his services.

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An unusual Four Square promotional chair which was auctioned recently. Photos © and courtesy of Trademe menber cache10 (Phil). a

He moved with his wife Mattie and eight offspring to Wellington in 1902 (where he was president of the city’s Sunday School Union, president of the Sunday School Teacher’s Association, vice-president of the YMCA Cricket Club, vice-president of the Gregg Shorthand Association, and prone to giving rousing public speeches on the gospel everywhere he could, it seems).

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Four Square’s self line of preserving jar skins probably date from the 1950s or early 1960s. From my personal collection. a

In 1907 we find him managing director of Messrs. Yerox, Barker and Finlay, Ltd., a company primarily moving cash registers and typewriters. In 1908 he moved to directing the interests of the National Cash Register Co in New Zealand at 17-19 Cuba Street – and in 1911 he gained inches of press when he invented an automated telegram sorting and stamping machine, which was subsequently installed in Wellington’s General Post Office. Following that the family relocated to Auckland in 1912 (where he had a spell as a director on the board of the Auckland YMCA, and led Baptist services at various church venues).

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Rare canisters issued for the Southland Four Square Co-op’s general area centennial of 1956 crop up at auction very occasionally to be bid on competitively. a

Presumably he eventually became somehow involved in the grocery industry to bring him into the relative picture; A newspaper article of 1924, in which he is called to give testimony in a case to do with milling industry price fixing, defines him as the Auckland secretary of the New Zealand Master Baker’s association, as well as the editor of their magazine “Baker’s Review” since 1920 (he remained secretary until 1930 when he stood down voluntarily).

George Allen and staff in the Dominion Road Four Square store, Auckland, late 1940s. Photo © and courtesy of the estate of George Allen. a

Clearly from the court report he was a significant player in the supply and demand of flour and other goods for some years. Quite frankly I was surprised to find a dearth of biographical information on a major player in New Zealand industry; One of his children grew up to become well-known newspaper editor and politician Sir Harry Heaton Barker – and much more is written of his long term mayor son. Certainly at this point with his various experiences in foodstuffs, accounting, sales, administration and a clear talent for creative invention – he had everything he needed to take things to a spectacular new level.

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Advertisement showing the custard powder and tea from their self line, Auckland Star, 11 April, 1935. a

Barker, as well as also being secretary, accountant and auditor of the NZ Master Grocer’s Association – ran the Auckland branch of the food co-op from its inception until 1934 when he became director of Foodstuffs (NZ) Ltd – a position he remained in until 1947 when he passed away. In 1932 he was made a life member of the New Zealand Master Grocer’s Federation, of which he had been secretary since 1923.

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Four Square brochure of 1977 showing product specials to celebrate the 21st anniversary of Four Square in Otago/Southland. Image courtesy of the Foodstuffs (NZ) Archive. a

He also launched an industry magazine, “Grocers’ Review” in the early 1920s – which later seems to have joined forces with the milling industry and amalgamated his previous work there to become “New Zealand Grocer’s and Baker’s Review“. Sources seem to indicate that this version wrapped up in 1939; what I have seen from the Foodstuffs Ltd archive (I was lucky enough to get an insider peek at their collection courtesy of a food technician friend who is part of the team, and loves retro stuff herself) show two images of a “New Zealand Grocergram” magazine so presumably that became it’s moniker. Last reference to it in public collections is in 1974 -1975 however AdMedia ran an article in 2003 that it was being revamped. Current status is unknown, with the website down – but presumably it is still running – if so making it one of the longest running periodicals in the history of the country.

Waxed cardboard pot for Four Square’s self line of honey from the Christchurch Co-op, circa mid 1970s. a

By the mid 1930s Four Square had under its own line tea, honey, culinary essences, Worcester and tomato sauces, cornflour, macaroni and vermicelli, custard powder, malt extract, butter, coffee essence, spices, salt and pepper, canned fruit, and raisins. There was also jellies, candles, soap and toilet paper under the “Triangle” brand. Later boxed chocolates, vinegar, and cordials were added (1940s) as well as mixed dried fruit, preserving equipment,  and “Rawakelle“; their brand of tea that was in the 1950s and 1960s quite popular with the public.

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Front of cardboard box for Four Square’s self line of dried cake fruit from the Foodstuffs archive collection, probably early 1960s. a

Starting with baking powder – and then a few years following custard powder – “Pam’s” was launched by Four Square Stores in 1937 to offer lower price, quality goods that competed even more vigorously with opposing chain’s lower price bracket products. Although there were several “self” lines from other stores at the time, “Pam’s”  has stood alone, lasted into the present day as a “private” brand, probably the only surviving one. I previously documented my recreation of the first Pam’s marketing campaign/product label when I wrote about agency Dormer-Beck, who were behind it, here.

Advertisement announcing merger of 4 Triangle and AG Stores under the Four Square brand, making a total of 266 stores. Evening Post, December 1933. the co-ops changed their names to Foodstuffs two years later in 1935. a

Mr. Four Square” , who has also come to be known as “Cheeky Charlie“, was a welcoming storeman figure with a big thumbs up – yet to many he always had a slightly imposing, sinister air about him (he looks like the type of guy that if you were left alone in the store room with him he might try to cop a feel). The mascot was developed sometime in the 1950s for print advertising initially – although the exact date and who the specific the creator of the character was, is unclear – one source quotes the Foodstuffs advertising department as responsible. Another states it was a son of J.H. Barker’s who came up with the concept around 1951.

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A corruption of monopoly with products instead of property, Milton Bradley-produced “Checkout” in 1959. They also did a version for the Acme chain of stores in the USA. a

He is often mistakenly attributed to renowned Kiwi pop artist Dick Frizzell who was a commercial artist in the 1960s and 1970s, but this is incorrect. Frizzell was, however, involved with the iconic Ches and Dale characters, and the fact that he has used Charlie in some of his most famous art works only adds to the confusion.

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Promotional Happy Families set featuring many popular products sold through Four Square stores, New World and CPS stores (Central Provision Stores, Australia); circa 1980. a

Another well-known contemporary artist Mike Weston, who coincidentally partners with Frizzell’s son Otis to produce humorous Kiwiana-inspired works under the moniker Weston-Frizzell, seems to recall hearing that Charlie was “allegedly a knock off of a Santa Monica supermarket character from the fifties called “Freddy Fireside” – of the Fireside Market. Although I’m still looking for evidence” . I myself was also unable to find any information to even hint at this.Today when people think of the brand they definitely think of Charlie beaming at them from shop windows and hoardings so, although a rather overused word -he has definitely become a New Zealand icon (with a few modernised features). Extremely collectable now, original Mr. Four Square cut-out signage old or newish – sells for competitive prices well into the hundreds and sometimes even the thousands.

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Interior of the Dominion Road Four Square store, Auckland, late 1940s. Photo © and courtesy of the estate of George Allen. a

Quite a few different items have been issued to promote the business over the years. Snap and Happy Family card sets were produced featuring their most popular product lines in the late 1950s-early 1960s, and another Happy Families set of 52 cards in around 1980 from which many of my age group will remember all the products – I featured some of them here, here, and here.

Four Square’s warehouse opens  in Southland, 1956.  Image courtesy of the Foodstuffs (NZ) Archive.

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Other fun items to rope in the punters and strengthen allegiance to the business were a puzzle (late 1940s), a board game with Milton Bradley – “Checkout”, around 1959. a highly desirable colouring book “Fine Things of the Future” (1954), calendars (1950s-1960s), a stamp collecting book. Recipe/household hint books such as “Homeways” was published in the late 1960s, and “Take A Tip” of the early 1970s. A cast metal can opener was issued as a complimentary gift to customers.  Very rarely the hard-to-get canisters issued for the Southland Co-op’s general area centennial of 1956 crop up at auction to be bid on feverishly; and not so long ago even a very unusual Four Square chair.

Foodstuff’s former cut-price – now “private” – brand Pam’s started in 1937 with one product; baking powder. Photo courtesy of and © Eriq Quaadgrass, eRIQ on Flickr. a

Icon Products, who partner with Four Square as well as several other brands , currently hold a license for the Cheeky Charlie character, producing aprons, shirts, tea towels and carry bags – which have been marketed through another Foodstuffs enterprise – New World supermarkets – established at the end of 1963 (the same year that Woolworths rolled out their first dedicated food store Food Fair, a New Zealand first at New Lynn).

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This classic version cut-out Cheeky Charlie signage just sold recently for around the $1000 mark or a little over. a

Although significantly less than in their heyday – today Four Square stores in New Zealand remain as 300 plus independent operators as well as a few still dotted about Australia. It is one of very few companies that has ever reversed the usual trans-Tasman power play of brands being foisted on the comparatively tiny country and marketplace of Aotearoa. Even Ozzie brands like the re-tooled IGA still can’t usurp the sheer power in numbers, well – yet, anyway.

A modern store in Waitarere using the classic Four Square colour scheme to the maximum effect; with the newest version of Cheeky Charlie, said to have been “made over” by Dick Frizzell at Foodstuff’s request recently. Photo courtesy of and © Kiwi Frenzy on Flickr. a

Foodstuffs (NZ) Ltd is still comprised of three co-ops and has grown to include a slew of chain brands in its portfolio including aforementioned New World, Pak ‘N’ Save (established 1985), Write Price, On The Spot, Shop Rite, Raeward Fresh, Liquorland and Henry’s, Budget, Pam’s, and of course Four Square (and that’s just the food and drink enterprises) making it the largest retail organisation in New Zealand to date.

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Contemporary Four Square store and staff. Photo courtesy of and © the Foodstuffs (NZ) Archive. a

You have to wonder if Barker, whilst scribbling on his calendar absent-mindedly that day, ever in his wildest dreams could have comprehended he was launching an empire worth more than four billion dollars per annum.

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Neither the classic or contemporary version of Mr. Four Square -this was the in-between version with a few new touches in the 1990s-2000s. Photo of Cheeky Charlie on left courtesy of and © emilyandadam on Flickr. Image of modern Four Square logo graphics on right courtesy of and © the Foodstuffs (NZ) Archive. a

The Four Square Contest Poster is available from my online store here , as well as greeting cards for a nominal price.

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

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Research Sucks: Woolworths and the Advent of American Style

In Food Fair, Foodtown Supermarkets, Lynn Mall, Progressive Enterprises, Woolworth's Food Fair, Woolworth's stores, Woolworth's supermarkets, Woolworths on July 17, 2011 at 10.46

This is a recent Trademe purchase – a vintage box of “Super-Sip” brand drinking straws made by Woolworths. As it turns out, I have since discovered they were also produced in Australia; albeit in a different main colour scheme of dark red – as opposed to blue. I love the graphics which are different on all sides, and it still has most of the original green and yellow straws inside. These were the days when they used to actually put some effort in, and remember, a lot of it had to be done by hand!

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It’s a common misconception that Woolworths Ltd in the Antipodes is part of the F.W. Woolworth Company in the United States. It has no connection. Woolworths had been present in Australia from 1924 (Her Majesty’s Arcade, Sydney, was the first store) and in New Zealand from 1929 when it was founded by Percy Christmas , at which point the Oz and Kiwi interests were separated.

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The Wikipedia page for Woolworths claims that its first food store opened in Auckland in 1956, and supermarkets in 1971.

Then it also goes on to state the first supermarket opened in Henderson, West Auckland (which was the nearest town of significance to my home as a child) in 1967. The discrepancies are confusing. Depending on if and how the “Woolworths Food Fair” stores actually differed from a “Woolworths supermarket”, and when the actual “Food Fair” banner was phased out for good, would deem whether either of the dates provided is correct, if at all.

We know that Wikipedia is a little unreliable to say the least, and as far as I know this information is for the most part incorrect. The first Woolworths “Food Fair” (food supermarket, as opposed to “Variety Store”) was opened at Panmure in 1956; and then the next one in  New Lynn, West Auckland – not Henderson, on 30 October 1963. “Lynn Mall” was the first “American Mall”-style shopping centre in New Zealand. The Lynn Mall “Woolworths Food Fair” was the second separate, dedicated food store with cash register checkouts, trolleys, automated doors  and parking like the supermarkets we know today.

Further to that, the Progressive Enterprises site recently started claiming in their history section that Woolworths opened the first Food Fair in Panmure in 1956. This is technically correct, however up until 1963 “Food Fair ” was more or less a department within “Woolworth’s Variety Stores”, as told to me directly by Lance Bates who worked for the company for a number of years:

“Woolworths had a number of “Food Fairs” around Auckland and I guess other places as well. Each of the two main city stores in Queen Street had one tucked away in the back; and the Karangahape Road store, too. Taupo had one I know, as I have a photo of it.  As for the Lynn Mall Food Fair, what I wrote about it is correct. It was within the first drive-in shopping centre built in NZ and opened in 1963. The other Food Fairs were  just sections of the variety stores and no parking other than on-street parking”.

So far I reckon that the Progressive company information is a bit of a cockamamie history amongst a shoddy timeline where I’ve spotted several mistakes including a glaringly funny one; Progressive claim that the second Foodtown of 1961 had a below-cost opening special of Weet-Bix for 19 cents, Wattie’s peach slices for 21 cents, and potatoes for 29 cents per ten pounds. They even provide a clipping although amazingly…decimal wasn’t introduced for more than six years! Enough said.

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I’d say there’s not much doubt I have the story right, as I consulted with the very person who set up and managed the first supermarket when I was compiling the post “Snap ‘Em All” in February on “Lynmall” and Woolworths Variety/Food Fair.

https://longwhitekid.wordpress.com/2011/02/20/snap-em-mall/

So, Lance was able to give me first hand facts as he was right there, and provided photographic proof. I guess all this research and blogging isn’t entirely useless after all!

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Advertisement for Wellington Woolworths Stores, 1934.

Given the information I was in possession of, I was sure of my estimate of the mid 1960s for this item. It does look like it could be a bit older than that and now – it’s hard to say.

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Addendum late August 2012: Based on some information that came in this week I may have to eat my Woolworths (Variety Store) crepe paper party hat and rewrite this article. It seems Woolworths may actually be able to claim their Panmure store as the first New Zealand supermarket proper, depending on definition.  According to my source, it was a freestanding building with Woolworths split into two under one roof; a Woolworths Variety Store, and a Woolworths Food Fair, which was the first instance a food store was separated as opposed to being  a department  the general variety format. So there you have it. And hopefully that’s final! (but I get the feeling it’s not).

Did Panmure have the proper set-up with parking around the store, trolleys and cash register check-outs? I suppose I am trying to verify, if Woolworths Food Fair Panmure can claim the title of the first proper supermarket as we more or less know them today, in comparison to Foodtown of Otahuhu in 1958, which definitely was a stand-alone building and had parking and trolleys, air conditioning, automated doors and cash register check-outs.It all comes down to those details I think because the difference is previously there was self-service to a degree, no matter how insignificant – but not all of the features, of what would be termed “American style”. (I am excepting having your groceries taken to the car, which was probably a new advent and can be disqualified from impeding the definition).

It was partly the  McKenzies chain of stores who were responsible for the introduction of the “‘American style” features in the shopping experience in Aotearoa after founder John  R. H. McKenzie observed the rise of the five and dime store-style experience after a 1928 trip to the U.S., and upon returning to New Zealand, promptly relocated and restyled every one of his twenty plus stores modelled after this format. Although McKenzies really was in the “variety store” category of selling general merchandise, so the award may go to a store, or small chain of stores, named Fletcher’s of which there has been rumblings of  acknowledgement as being the first one  to offer any sort of “self service” –  it’s possible this refers to stores owned by J. Fletcher who had a small number of stores in the Ohakune and Raetihi, (Manawatu-Wanganui) and Matawhereo, Gisborne areas in the 1900s-1910s. The last mention I can find is 1920 and they seem to have disappeared by the following decade. But it is more likely to be Fletcher Bros who were  running general stores based in Christchurch and Ashburton areas in the 1890s-1910s.   Self Help established in 1922 strictly falls into the grocery store category and  of course was well known for popularizing the personal shopping experience, hence their name…although for quite some time customers only selected their groceries and bought them to the counter to be weighed out and packaged by the storekeeper (so not much of a change, really, except less use of ladders, probably). But still, none are food markets as such. Although Wardell’s had a supermarket in Wellington by 1956, again it was not completely self service so is also removed from the running.

Unless the Panmure Food Fair had all the “new” features I list earlier to qualify, then Foodtown will probably keep it’s claimed title of “the first American-style supermarket in New Zealand”. And Food Fair of Lynn Mall relegated to ” the first dedicated  supermarket in an American-style mall”.

And thus it goes… Anyway, apologies to Progressive for dubbing you “cockamamie” – it was Wikipedia’s fault…honest. If in doubt blame a Wiki I say…any Wiki. That said, someone linked the Woolworths page to this article and some asshat immediately deleted the information. Companies really don’t like it when you “mess” with their “history”. And I am still waiting for death threats from someone over the Iced Vovo thing. 


 Woolworths Ltd of Levin, November 1949, National Library NZ  collection.

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Addendum early September 2012: I’m sad to say that one of New Zealand’s longest running chains, Woolworths, is over in New Zealand. When the Woolworths NZ business, under the auspices of Progressive Enterprises (Foodtown, Countdown, (ex) Georgie Pie etc) was acquired by Woolworths Australia Ltd in 2005, a decision was made to phase out the brand and move to the Countdown banner by 2014. This happened a lot faster than anticipated; by 2010 all South Island stores were gone. By the end of 2011 all North Island stores had been changed over. Technically there is just one store left in Mount Manganui, Auckland. However  but for all intents and purposes, the Woolworths brand is defunct.

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Addendum early September 2012: As I said I was pretty sure this whole thing wasn’t over yet. I was right! It’s come to light that Woolworths Food Fair Panmure did not have parking. It also  apparently did not have trolleys – but hand baskets.  So the tally is now as follows…

Woolworths Food Fair Panmure was the first separate food market in New Zealand but was not a stand-alone building, and did not have the complete American-style features. Disqualified!

Foodtown Otahuhu was the first stand-alone food market with all American-style features.Therefore it was the first supermarket in New Zealand in 1958

Foodtown Takanini was the second stand-alone food market with all American-style features.Therefore it was the second supermarket in New Zealand in 1961.

Woolworths Food Fair in New Lynn was the first dedicated food market in New Zealand with all American-style features in an American-style  mall . So technically, it was the third supermarket in in New Zealand, but the first supermarket in a shopping centre. 

No, really, I am done now!

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Addendum early November 2015: More additions than any article I have written yet, I think. However this is not in relation to the supermarket history – but back to the original subject – which was the Super-Sip box. This wax paper cup has popped up on the Te Papa site recently. I immediately recognised the illustrations on it as being the same as the straw packaging that was sold in New Zealand and Australia. The cup was made by Frank Winstone Ltd of Auckland, a grain and seed merchant that had been around in Quay Street since at least the 1900s and later segued into cardboard/packaging items; they had the licence for the American Lily brand to make cups and straws, their own very successful ‘Super-Sip’ brand, and a contract to make school milk straws until that scheme was phased out in 1967. They no doubt made items for many chain supermarkets and variety stores, such as Woolworths, of course.
When I say ‘made’ I mean Winstone created and distributed the cups. But they were actually manufactured by Carton Specialities Limited, which I wrote about this year in my article on the Uncle’s fast food takeaway chain here.  (like CSL Winstone also had a Henderson, West Auckland branch).  So we can assume the cup below was also made under the Super-Sip brand for Woolworths stores. We don’t have the original packaging so we may never know for sure, but I feel confident to make this leap. Further to that this revelatory matchy-matchy item means the straws box, which I thought may be as far back as the mid 1950s- quite possibly dates from much later – the 1970s. 

Cup disposable wax Frank M Winstone (Merchants) Ltd (distributor), c1970s Carton Specialities Ltd. (manuf) Auckland TePapaGH024337

 

Disposable wax paper cup by Winstone, 1970s. Image courtesy of the The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa collection, ref  GH024337.

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Snap ‘Em Mall

In Food Fair, Lynn Mall, Rendell's, Wattie's, Woolworths on February 20, 2011 at 10.46

I happened upon this extraordinary set of photographs on Flickr this week.

They are so for two reasons: Firstly because if you are searching for this genre there is certainly enough of it; although almost without exception, all of the material is American.

Secondly, I remember it well. How often can you say that? “I remember it, because I was there”.

New Lynn was near enough to the family home , but still far away enough that it was still a bit of an “outing” for special requirements. Seeing photos of it – boom! – instantly transported me right back to shopping with Mum alone in too tight toddler shoes; and then later when my sister was added, her and I chasing each other around amongst the huge plant pots in the ubiquitous “modern age finish” of the bleak, pebble encrusted courtyards. And amongst the shelves and aisles of Woolworths to keep ourselves entertained, probably knocking things to the ground with our antics, to disapproving result.

The photographer has enjoyed the medium as a hobby for over 55 years without any formal training. ” These are Images of Woolworths Stores in New Zealand I worked at, or visited.The Lynnmall photos were taken night before official opening in 1963.This was a big event in Auckland, as it was the first regional shopping centre in New Zealand (this was six years after the first one in Australia opened at Chermside in Brisbane). I worked on setting up the store here, then three months later came back from a stint with Woolworths in Australia to manage the Food Fair in Lynnmall. there are probably thousands of occasions where people have captured similar moments around the world. The photos, most likely, get looked at, put in albums or boxes and stored away. If only they would dig them out and add them to a service like Flickr –  just brightening one person’s day would be worth the effort “.

Well, to me this series is an incredible documentation, especially for more personal reasons than others. Brighten my day it did. It’s the kind of stuff I often think “I wish someone had taken photos of something like that – but they never do…” and then, what do you know. Thank god for people with cameras at the ready.

I love to zoom in and look at the designs of the packaging, most now long gone. Here is a digital recreation of a can label I was able to make from the almost indecipherable image of the Wattie’s product stacked on the shelves in the store over to the left in the photo above. I also recreated the POS cardboard display. I’m not sure about some details such as the medallions on the can, but I was able to work with details from another 1950’s can label and photos I’ve collected.


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Check out the full set here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/degilbo_on_flickr/sets/72157622925317144/with/4154579333/

Thanks to Degilbo for use of the images.