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Archive for the ‘Instant Drinks’ Category

A Match Made In Kitchens: Gregg’s and Holst

In Alison Holst, Alison's Choice Wholefoods, Cookery books, Diamond Pasta, Foodstuffs (NZ) Ltd, Gee Oh Gee drink, Gregg & Co, Gregg's, Gregg's jelly crystals, Instant Desserts, Instant Drinks, Jellies, Jelly Crystals, Seameal pudding, Timaru Milling Co, Trigon oven bags on October 2, 2013 at 10.46

Gregg's - Alison Holst - Meals In Minutes recipe pamphlet late 1960s - instant pudding EDIT more copy

One of six colour product/recipe DLs that comprised Alison Holst’s “Meals In a Minute”, all featuring a Gregg’s product of the early 1970s.

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Here we have two of New Zealand’s greatest food icons together; Gregg’s instant pudding and Alison Holst. Well actually, it’s debatable whether the pudding is actual food, come to think of it. I’ve already elucidated on my family’s opinions on the former here; my grandmother highly disapproved, and my mother insisted on making her own bizarre version – yet both kept the Gregg’s one in the cupboard for occasional use (why, I don’t know).

Gregg's instant pudding five pairs   LIME CHOCOLATE

Anyway, let’s call it as it is – they were disgusting, in particular I remember the orange one was gross. Maybe they’ve improved now since they are still being produced today with the (pretension to) more gourmet-style flavours like Dark chocolate mousse, Banoffee, Choc-a -lot with choc chips, Strawberry swirl smoothie, Choco-fudge, and Vanilla creme.

Gregg's instant pudding five pairs CARAMEL RASPBERRY

All of these Gregg’s instant pudding boxes date from the late 1970s and were digitally recreated from just one jaffa flavour box (below left).

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Gregg's instant pudding five pairs JAFFA LEMON

It is ironic that a product designed to be so cursory in its creation has stood longer than so many others. The earliest record I have for this Gregg’s product is “instant milk puddings” of the 1930s, being produced in tandem with that eighty year old classic Seameal, a dessert that has also truly stood the test of time – as I was amazed recently to find out is still being produced today (rather like Bushell’s essence of coffee and chicory, I am not really sure who buys it, or why – but someone must). And they went from strength to strength; the range of flavours growing every decade from there and probably peaking in the 1980s. Now the range is pretty small in comparison to times gone by and definitely reflects changing tastes, or rather – those dictated.

Gregg's instant pudding five pairs ORANGE COCONUT

Like the lifespan of the Gregg’s product under discussion here, the other topic of this post has also gone the distance and more. In a career that has lasted nearly fifty years as a celebrity chef in New Zealand, Alison Holst (now Dame, thank you very much) has issued about 100 cookbooks, her first was the best-selling “Cooking with Alison Holst: Here’s How” published in 1966 a year after she started appearing on her own television show. Probably the fact that TV was pretty much in its infancy and she didn’t have a lot of competition bar Graham Kerr, had something to do with her astounding success.

Gregg's instant pudding five pairs VANILLA STRAWBERRY

That said, she may have been around for half a century – but except that I know she had some kind of pikelet mix in the 1980s and 90s, I’ve never really paid that much attention to her to be honest. All I know is that she’s tall, affable and not very drunk on television. So basically a sober Julia Child, which is kind of boring. In her article here, Aimie Cronin makes it out a number of times, to be extraordinary that Holst, for all her success and bigcheesery (yes, that is a word, because I say) is just so…pedestrian. When in fact, as well all know – in reality there’s nothing exciting about being dull and humble .

Woman's Weekly Dec 3 1973 - TRIGON GIANT ROASTIN' BAGS ALISON HOLST    (6)

One of Alison Holst’s adverts from her Trigon endorsement, Woman’s Weekly magazine, December 1973.

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On the up side, it can be respected that at least she’s not some vapid attention seeking fiend who got famous and built her brand off a reality show. Holst has a solid academic grounding having graduated from the University of Otago with a Bachelor of Home Science, then studied teaching before she began lecturing in the Foods Department at the School of Home Science; all of this before stardom came around. Finally in 1997 she was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science from Otago University.

Meals With The Family 1967 - Here's How 1966 - by Alison Holst  copy

Alison Holst’s first best-seller “Here’s How” (1966) at left, and her second book on the right “Meals With the Family” (1967). She has since published almost one hundred titles.

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At this point in time – she’s now 75 years old – her cookbook sales have surpassed four and a half million units and her business continues to thrive with her Alison’s Choice line of wholefoods – a range she has had on the market through Foodstuffs NZ Ltd (Four Square, PAK’nSAVE, Pam’s, etc) since 1994. In addition she now has a mail order business , Alison Holst Online selling her books, knife sets, cookware and accessories with son Simon (whom she has co-authored several tomes with).

Woman's Weekly Dec 3 1973 - - GREGG'S JELLY CRYSTALS - ALISON HOLST edit copy

One of Alison Holst’s adverts from her W. Gregg & Co endorsement, also from Woman’s Weekly magazine, December 1973.

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These boxes are from the 1970s, and in fact I only had the Jaffa one – and made the rest following the list of flavours in my database as a guide to recreate the whole range (if anything is missing, please let me know). The pudding recipe ephemera was part a set of six glossy DL-shaped slips in bright colours that were issued in a paper sheath as “Meals in Minutes” compliments of Gregg’s, and featured six different products they were producing at the time – including a drink called Gee Oh Gee which I don’t recall at all but apparently was around at least ten years. It’s an unusual format and was perhaps slipped in a magazine like Woman’s Weekly as a giveaway promo, or maybe into one of Alison’s cookbooks – it’s hard to tell what it’s exact purpose was. During this period Holst also endorsed Diamond products (pasta by the Timaru Milling Co.) and Trigon range of oven bags and the like. The same publicity shots were used for other Gregg’s ads in 1973 so that and the swingin’ fonts used are a pretty good indication of date.

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

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Healthy Curiosity

In Betta Peanut Butter, Cereal, Grain Products Ltd, Granose, Health Food, Instant Drinks, Kwic-Bru, Marmite, Sanitarium Health Foods, Spreads, Weet-Bix on November 26, 2011 at 10.46

Sanitarium was founded in 1898 in Melbourne with its background in the Seventh Day Adventist health food movement from the U.S.A’s Battle Creek Sanatorium where the Kellogg brothers (yes, those ones) were creating the first specifically vegetarian “health” products.
The company claims that its “flagship product Weet-Bix is a top seller in the Australian and New Zealand breakfast cereal market”. The sales figures may well speak for themselves, however this is not an accurate statement since Sanitarium did not buy the Weet-Bix brand until 1928 from Leichardt, Sydney company Grain Products Limited. They claim that their early product Granose is a forerunner to it, but the truth is that they developed quite separately – even if they do have their roots in the same religious movement.

Sanitarium’s Betta and Marmite competition, Evening Post, September, 1938 

The Weet-Bix story is in fact so complicated it’s going to have to be its own separate post at some point further down the track. It’s a convoluted history that still doesn’t seem entirely clarified; with a great deal of confusion surrounding the origins and history of their most famous product , and who was actually responsible for supposedly “inventing” it. It also doesn’t help that Sanitarium is another one of those “crossover” trans-Tasman brands I’ve written about in the past like Woolworths and Frosty Boy; same brands, fairly separate histories for the most part – in this case although they have the same parent company Sanitarium is split into two – the Australian Health and Nutrition Association Ltd and New Zealand Health Association Ltd.

The Betta jar full of buttons is ‘from the collection of Owaka Museum, Wahi Kahuika, The Meeting Place “a rest on your journey”‘ Object number CT81.1554f.  The jar lid below was up for auction a while back.

The  actual proponent of Sanitarium products was a man named Edward Halsley who started making Granola, Granose and Caramel Cereal (a coffee substitute). He had learned his trade under the Kelloggs. The company was officially registered as a trademark in 1898 – however by 1900 Sanitarium had transferred him to New Zealand to begin manufacturing its products in a wood shed in Papanui, outside of Christchurch.
From the 1920s Sanitarium opened a chain of Health Food shops in both countries selling their products exclusively – these closed down in the 1980s. Looking at the products over the years it’s really interesting to discover how early Sanitarium started manufacturing Products like vegetarian sausages and burgers and the like – much earlier than you would think, in the mid 1950s in fact – and products like nut meat were being manufactured in the 1920s onwards – I believe Nutolene is still available, amongst others that have been around for nearly 90 years!

This guy’s fourhead scares me. Maybe this is what too many health products do to you. It reminds me of that early 90s movie about the alien family “The Coneheads”. 

Products besides Weet-Bix are too numerous to list here, but in New Zealand Marmite (imported until the 1970s, first from Britain then Australia), as well as peanut butter are notable, in particular the “Betta” brand which was introduced in the 1930s and lasted well into the 1960s before reverting to just “Sanitarium” branding . Bottles intact with labels, although usually pretty shabby, come up for auction on a regular basis.
Coffee substitute Kwic-Bru is likely a descendant of one of the very original Sanitarium products mentioned above – “Caramel Cereal”. It appeared in the early 1920s and seemed to be still on sale up until sometime in the 1960s. Both these colour ads are from “Health” magazine in 1940 and were an Ebay Australia purchase.
I’ll come back to Weet-Bix next year with a detailed post.

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Addendum Late Nov 2012: This Kwic-Bru container turned up on Ebay Australia a few months back. The seller claims it dates from the 1940s, although I think it’s more likely from the 1950s. It’s likely the design was exactly the same in New Zealand. 

Wattie’s He Been Doing

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

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

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

Jungle Book

In Cereal, cereal premiums, Hansell's, Instant Drinks, Jungle Juice on May 1, 2011 at 10.46

A few months back I found photos of a 1970’s Hansell’s Jungle Juice jar I remembered from childhood, online in a Flickr collection of Kiwiana. I was beavering away trying to recreate the label design from the samples of it I’d downloaded, but having a lot of problems getting it right.


One problem with trying to revive the images on cans and jars, is that no matter how you try to reverse the angles and far-shortening that are created by the curvature of the object it is adhered to, it’s never very good and a lot of objectivity is required to straighten it back out when re-drawing it. The other problem was, that something that hardly ever happens occurred – the file corrupted and kept crashing my software as well as my computer so I had to abandon it after getting halfway through the painstaking work – and after trying everything I could think of to remedy it. Annoying not to mention tedious!

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When I left a comment explaining what I was attempting to do, the author of the images said “I can do better than that!” and very kindly e-mailed me four different shots he had taken especially for me to work with, showing the whole design from different views. Brilliant! After that I started from scratch and my job was much easier, and here it is recreated in perfect detail.

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One thing about starting this blog is that it has immediately brought me in touch with a variety of really interesting people from collectors to historians. I guess it is still quite a niche area and I have no idea who is out there and what their areas of interest are (apart from the same couple of people on Trademe that I seem to be constantly doing battle with – and often losing to – over certain items).

Stephen is an expert in Kiwi cereal premiums (free gifts – often collectable plastic toys) and specialises in collecting not only that genre, but also Hansell’s memorabilia. In 2006 he published “New Zealand Cereal Toys, 1950 – 2000” with Peter Fisher to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first accurately recorded New Zealand cereal toy.

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Richard Wolfe’s many more general Kiwiana books aside, This particular book was the first of its kind for New Zealand – spurred by an explosion in the area of premium collecting in Australasia as people self-indulgently wallow in the rosy glow of a distant childhood. Not many luxuries are cheap, but this is one (but rapidly becoming more costly by the year I’m finding).


The full colour book sold out quite a while back, but Stephen has two remaining copies for sale, of the black and white edition – available for NZ $49.95 + $6.00 PP. But these are the last two.

There’s a synopsis here   http://www.wheelers.co.nz/books/9780473113629-new-zealand-cereal-toys-1950-2000/#desc ,

and you can see stephen’s collection on-line here.   http://www.flickr.com/photos/48502235@N08/collections/72157623667541858/

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I’ll cover Hansells with more depth later in the year when I have time to revisit it.