longwhitekid

Archive for the ‘J. H. Whittaker and Sons’ Category

Sentiment For Sale

In Butland Industries, Christmas, Cinderella stamps, Conrad Frieboe, Crown Lynn, DIC department stores, Evelyn Clouston, Farmer's, Farmer's Trading Co., Farmers' Santa, Foodstuffs (NZ) Ltd, Four Square, Four Square Supermarkets, GHB grocery stores, Goldpack dried fruits, Goldpack Products, Good Housekeeping Brand stores, Hallenstein's, J. H. Whittaker and Sons, J.R. Butland, James Smith & Sons, James Smith Limited department stores, Maple Furnishing Co, McCall's magazine, Moggy Man, Moggy Man TT2, New Zealand School Journal, New Zealand Woman's Weekly, Newdick & Co cakes, Santa Claus, Santé bar, Titian Studios, TT2, Uncategorized, Whittaker's chocolate, Winstone Limited, Xmas, Xmas Parade on December 25, 2015 at 10.46

 

Four Square POS Sign  CHRISTMAS GREETINGS made for the  4 Square Four Square stores 1940S-1950s edit copy copy

Foodstuffs Ltd point-of-sale cardboard poster for a Four Square Xmas promotion, probably late 1950s-early 1960s. If you want to read about the history of this iconic brand and huge chain of grocery stores, I wrote about it here. Go for it. 

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Here we are back at the festive season again. I just don’t know what happened to this year; I do know that I’ve only managed to post about six times which is a marked difference from the previous years, understatement. At least a couple of those were substantial.
December the first marked five years of the Longwhitekid blog. I had a special image saved and everything, but even though I definitely had something to say on the occasion – I couldn’t make time to do anything with it.

This is the fourth or fifth annual Yuletide-themed post. Somehow I managed to gather a huge amount of Christmassy (yes, that is a term, because I say so) stuff into my file for this one; I’m not sure why that happened.  However I had a lot to choose from. So, I’ve focussed on the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s this time around -with a palette of red, blue, white and black (mostly). Inevitably, most of the images are commercially related hence the title of this article.

I’ll be back around new year with the regular article of the top fifty most popular images of 2015 as voted by my readers. It will probably be quite different since my membership went up by thousands (in part due to a mention in the NZ Herald) and some things got hundreds of likes. I sort of have an idea what the top image was, but the rest will be just as much as surprise to me as it will be to you. Until then, happy holidays and all that stuff.

Toby jug - Santa Clausa Crown Lynn Potteries Limited Portage Ceramics Trust collection edit copy

A Santa Claus Toby jug by Crown Lynn Potteries Limited, designed by Vic Lawson and manufactured between 1942-1957.  I have no idea how rare this is and if it would fetch the same kinds of prices as their other scarce ones like the Wahine (technically, the latter was mostly made by Titian Studios 1947 – 1970, before CL bought them out). Image courtesy of Portage Ceramics Trust collection at Te Toi Uku Clayworks (aka the Crown Lynn Museum), Auckland portageceramicstrust.org.nz

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1907-1960 Pt 3 1957 unknown hobbies and things to make poss Conrad Frieboe copy

An unsigned illustration from the New Zealand  School Journal, part 3, 1957. I’m guessing this is probably the work of Conrad Frieboe, who had a long career working for the Department of Education on various publications from the 1950s through to the 1970s as well as for book publishers and magazines like ‘Stitch’ ( for which he did beautiful work). Image courtesy of the  Doris Chadwick Collection of educational publications,  D233, NZ School Journals Vols 51, 1907-1960 , UoW Archives. 

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Whittaker's Sante Does Exist Campaign Xmas 2012 edit copy

Advert from Whittaker’s chocolate Christmas campaign, 2012. Sante does indeed exist, and has for a very long time in Aotearoa. Although the line has almost become a ‘brand’ in its self for this company, it was once considered pretty much generic – and everyone from ‘Hudson’s’ to ‘Beatall’ had a crack at it over time.

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DIC Santa photograph holder Owain Morris collection edit

Cover of a Christmas brochure for DIC department stores. This chain, originally named the ‘Drapery and General Importing Company of New Zealand Ltd’, was founded in 1884 by one of the Hallensteins – Bendix (1835-1905). He was also responsible for founding, earlier in 1873, what was to become Hallenstein Brothers – one of the country’s most successful brands historically, and still going today. DIC grew to at least thirteen stores around the country until it was phased out in 1991, after being taken over by rival Arthur Barnett’s. Image courtesy of Owain Morris collection.

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Santa parade  1958 along Cambridge Terrace Wellington City Libraries

Santa parade of 1958, along Cambridge Terrace, Wellington. This must be the same annual James Smiths Ltd  department stores-sponsored one that travelled the same route, which I wrote about here. Image courtesy of  Wellington City Libraries collection.

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Z Farmers Free Bus from K Rd arriving at the Farmers store with Santa on guard - Graham C Stewart from the Garth Stewart collection edit copy

Farmers Trading Company’s famous free bus from Karangahape Road, arriving at the Hobson Street store with Santa in place in his original location. Of course this building is now a boutique hotel,  so these days he is on the front of the Whitcoull’s store in Queen Street, where he’s been placed every season for quite some time now. In recent years his lascivious wink and beckoning finger have been removed because parents are weird about stuff that’s all in their head and nobody else’s. Thanks for making Santa dirty, folks. Image possibly taken in the early 1970s (this looks like one of those old green buses), courtesy of Graham C. Stewart, from the Garth Stewart collection.

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The Maple Cake tin The Maple Furnishing Co KRd edit copy

A promotional Christmas cake tin given as gifts to customers of ‘The Maple.’ Presumably this refers to home decorating institution the Maple Furnishing Co Ltd, which was on the north side of Karangahape Road, Auckland near Symonds Street, as well as branches in Onehunga and  Wellington. It had been around since the 1910s, being known for high end furniture – including designer Featherston of the famous and highly collectable chairs. You can see another 1920s picture of the business here. It was purchased by Smith and Brown in about 1970 who had a chain of over twenty stores around the country. It became Smith & Brown & Maple but only lasted until around 1979. I am guessing this tin dates from the early-mid 1960s.  I suspect it may have been done for the business by cake manufacturers Newdick & Co who were also situated close by and are known to have specialized in decorative Xmas tins to market their products. 

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Santa Parade 1969 High St Dannevirke Tip-Top Moggy Man  Dannevirke Museum

Santa Parade, 1969, High Street,  Dannevirke. Tip-Top’s ‘Moggy Man’ novelty started out as the iconic baby boomer icy treat the ‘TT2’ in the fifties – and lasted into the 1970s. I’ve previously written about the historical development of the product here. Image courtesy of the Dannevirke Museum collection.

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Vintage Christmas Decorations 1950s-1960s courtesy Gertrude Snyder Vintage Treasure In Martinborough page

Glass Christmas tree decorations dating from the 1950s to 1960s. We used to have these on our family tree and some went back to my great-grandparents who had owned them before WWII. Every year the hoard would shrink as inevitably one would get broken somehow; the wind, or the cat – or a clumsy child. Image courtesy of Gertrude Snyder, Vintage Treasure In Martinborough at facebook.com/vintagetreasurenz  or vintagetreasurenz.com

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Family around the Christmas tree from the Oamaru Mail 1965 North Otago Museum edit copy EDIT copy

A family around the Christmas tree, from the Oamaru Mail, 1965. Image courtesy of the North Otago Museum collection.

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Doris Chadwick Collection D233 UoW NZ School Journal Pt 1 & 2 1957Evelyn Clouston Manger Xmas Jesus copy

Illustration by one of my favourite Kiwi illustrators, Clouston. Evelyn Maryon Clouston was born in Auckland in 1906, and had a lengthy career designing for the School Publications Branch, Department of Education in Wellington , as well as for various publishers such as Whitcombe & Tombs and Paul’s Book Arcade. She also worked for publishers in London for a spell. Image from NZ School Journal, Parts 1 & 2, 1957, courtesy of the  Doris Chadwick Collection of educational publications,  D233, NZ School Journals Vols 51, 1907-1960 , UoW Archives. 

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GHB Xmas Club (1966) GHB STORES

An advert from a GHB cookbook, published 1966.  GHB was a smaller, lesser known chain of grocery stores with a self line (tea, soap powder, etc), that existed from the 1950s until some time in the 1980s. It stood for ‘Good Housekeeping Brand’ (I don’t think it had anything to do with the magazine of the same name). They were still significant enough to issue several versions of this tome through the fifties and sixties. I get the idea it was located around the upper half of the North Island only.  Locations I know of were Auckland, Dannevirke, Pahiatua, Kaikoura, and Hawke’s Bay. Image courtesy of Mike Davidson collection. 

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F Winstone staff Christmas Childrens party lolly scramble Flletcher Trust all rights reserved Item #6351P fs 28 edit copy

Remember lolly scrambles? They’re probably a thing of the past now because everyone’s so precious about OHS issues. When I was a kid we were inevitably in Northland during the holidays – and in Waipu candy would be thrown out of a low-flying helicopter by  a rather daring, but dedicated Santa. They would never let Saint Nick do that these days, I’m guessing. Winstone staff’s children’s Christmas party, image courtesy of the Fletcher Trust, all rights reserved, ref #6351P/28. fletcherarchives.org.nz

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GOLDPACK XMAS CAKE A CLASSIC Butland - Judith Ann Field_BulletinNo7_2-1 copy edit copy

These two recipes from Goldpack are almost considered  Kiwi classics as perhaps anything out of the good old Edmond’s ‘Sure To Rise’ cookbook is. I covered the topic of the Xmas cake and pud here when I wrote about this Butland Indstries brand back in September 2012.

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Cinderellas  Xmas Christmas ONLY  1954-1980 copy edit copy

A ‘Cinderella’ issued by the New Zealand Tuberculosis Association in 1955 to raise charity funds. Cinderellas were a kind of stamp that were not official New Zealand post issue and were primarily decorative. They usually served two main purposes – fund raising or promotion. As such, they are their own special area of collecting and some can fetch high prices – such as early pigeon post stamps. Colourful and charming, they were popular during the festive season and I have a collection of Christmas ones that I will probably feature next year.

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Mcalls Xmas mag 1960s edit

Now, this one is special to me. It’s an American  McCall’s magazine – but they were sold in New Zealand. My mother was a bit of a fan, especially of the annual Christmas issues – and we had stacks of them sitting around that went back to the mid sixties. The Yuletide issue was always an amazing, over the top extravaganza; the kind of Christmas you could only dream of. The cakes, desserts and gingerbread house spreads were especially amazing, covered in Yankee candies that you could not get down under. I’m not sure of the date for this particular one, but it would be after 1964.

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NZ WOMAN'S WEEKLY XMAS EDITION magazine for December 3 1952 edit copy

New Zealand Woman’s Weekly magazine, early December edition, 1953.

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santa parade over the years 1966 nzheraldconz

One of the images recently featured by the New Zealand Herald in an article on the Farmers Santa parade over the years. This one was taken in 1966. Presumably courtesy of the Herald’s own collection.  nzherald.co.nz 

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UoW New Zealand School Journal Pt 3 1957 Conrad Frieboe edit copy

Another illustration from the New Zealand  School Journal, part 3, 1957. It looks like it’s signed ‘L.F.’ but it’s actually C.F., so definitely the work of the very talented Conrad Frieboe, whom I have already covered up near the top of this post. Image courtesy of the  Doris Chadwick Collection of educational publications,  D233, NZ School Journals Vols 51, 1907-1960 , UoW Archives. 

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Woman holding Christmas decoration made of milk bottle tops Wellington 1957 edit copy

Woman holding a Christmas decoration made entirely of  silver milk bottle tops, Wellington, 1957. Cellulosic film negative, taken for the Evening Post newspaper by unidentified staff photographer. Image courtesy of the Alexander Turnbull Library collection, ref EP/1957/4948-F. 

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

A Sticky Business: Whittaker’s

In Andrew Whittaker, Bournville Cocoa, Brian Whittaker, Cadbury's, Chocolate, confectionery, J. H. Whittaker and Sons, J.H. Whittaker Australia Ltd, James Henry Whittaker, K Bar, Peanut Slab, Rigg & Whittaker, Rowntree's cocoa, Santé bar, toffee, Whittaker's, Whittaker's Confectionery Works on September 24, 2012 at 10.46

Presumably an advertising campaign for the Easter period showing a recent addition: that New Zealand classic hokey pokey, which is more often seen in ice cream, but reconfigured as a chocolate flavour. 

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Whittaker’s is now one of New Zealand’s most popular (and enduring) brands, having been around for over 120 years – if you count it in its most primitive initial form. I love this brand, and enjoy it regularly. There’s so many things about the product that has appeal besides it’s “home-grown” quality, packaging, and advertising.

Giving you the (sticky) finger: the only Whittaker’s advert I’ve ever found. Even then there was a company ethic with focus on local labour and supplies. Evening Post, 1932.

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However the essential one is that Whittaker’s has a truly unique flavour that comes from their personal supervision over the entire process – from beginning to end, or as they have dubbed it – “bean to bar”. It must be one of few brands still make their product on site, Sadly here in Australia, where I currently live, we get a tiny portion of the delicious range – perhaps five or so flavours of the Blocks and bars, three types of Slab, and a couple of the bags of Minis which have been recently launched. No kiwifruit, no biscuit & berry, and definitely no raspberry and white chocolate!

A portion of the block wrapper featuring J.H. Whiittaker. 

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It’s true that their fraction of the Oz market is tiny and by accounts still in the single digits (but slowly growing). So I am not criticising, except to suggest if they had a bigger selection of varieties of their deliciousness on sale, for one I would buy more. I’m rather  expressing my surprise that, although they are now NZ’s second biggest chocolate brand next to Cadbury’s, and have one of the neatest websites around, it’s an understatement to say that they have the usual thin-on-the-ground company yarn in their history section. I mean, minimal is an understatement – it’s almost nonexistent. Once I started looking into it, I found that there’s more back story there that they have skipped over in the happy-go-lucky one they present.

Tin from the Whittaker’s company archive collection, unknown era – presumably 1900s-1910s.

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James Henry Whittaker was born in 1868 in Longsight, Manchester to parents James, who was registered as a tool and model maker , and Annie. His two older sisters Harriet and Mary Ann were born in 1856 and 1858 respectively, as well as his Brother Walter who was born in Levenshulme. There is also mention of the family residing in Chorlton-upon-Medlock at this time so by all accounts they moved around the Manchester city area with regularity.

Classic Peanut Slab (which also now comes in two other versions). – photo courtesy of Viernest on Flickr.

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Following this the family moved again to Macclesfield, West Cheshire, a distance to the south where four more siblings were added; Charles Herbert (1870), Frank (1874) , John Frederick (1878 ), and Harold (1880).
Having picked up and moved again By 1881, we find James working as a jeweller’s errand boy in Warwckshire, Birmingham and family is living at 14 Burbury Street there.

The Exchange Building in Lambton Quay, Wellington, circa 1890s -which housed the home store of Rigg & Whittaker, J.H.’s joint business venture between 1892-1896.

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By 1883, or 1884 at the latest J. H. Whittaker entered the confectionery industry . It is mentioned that he worked for Cadbury’s, and as it happens that company purchased Bournbrook Estate nearby in 1878 and opened a huge Bournville factory to manufacture their cocoa and chocolate products. So we can safely say that sometime between 1884 and the following six years Whittaker worked for them and learned the trade inside out.

Advert for Rigg and Whittaker’s Christchurch store, agents- Press,  June 1892.

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At age 22, he married Leah Alice Hopkins (born 1870), at All Saints Church, Kings Heath, in March of 1890. Sometime soon after this he left Britain for New Zealand, arriving before the end of that year. Records show only one J.H. Whittaker leaving from the Liverpool Port that year. He settled in Christchurch in the South Island and immediately set to work making his own product which he sold door to door by horse and cart.

Brian Whittaker (top) and Andrew Whittaker (bottom) as children, and founder James Henry Whittaker, with portions of block and slab.

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Wasting very little time establishing himself , by 1892 he had entered into an import and agency business with John Rigg in Wellington, (not to be confused with the Hon, John Rigg, the well-known unionist who spent the majority of his life in the printing field. This one probably arrived to the country in the late 1850s and worked as an auctioneer and then later for the Wellington Council as a clerk). They were principal agents for Rowntree’s cocoa and confectionery in New Zealand – as well as Carr’s biscuits , Bottomley And Son confectionery and numerous other groceries and household wares. The former is no surprise given his professional background with the chocolate industry and this endeavour probably set him up well for what was to come both in knowledge of procuring the suppliers he would need, details of import- export regulations, and familiarity with the capital city and potential customers.

Toffee Milks are considered one of the three classics of the Whittaker brand along with Peanut Slabs and K Bars. This is the handsome contemporary version of the point of sale box with 72 units.

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The main business ran out of the Exchange Building on Lambton Quay where they were also agents for the Bank of New Zealand. their storehouses are described as ” always well stocked”. John Rigg’s Auckland business remained under his name and they established two more businesses – in Dunedin and Christchurch. Rigg & Whittaker were still a partnership in 1894, as exemplified by an advertisement for their business selling empty tin lined cases and casks on the cheap. I am assuming that these were probably the containers left over from there imported cocoa. “The rapid and complete manner in which the manufactures of the above named firms have been placed on the New Zealand market is not only sufficient comment on the ability and energy of these gentlemen, but proves that there is a market in this Colony for a really high class article, which they supply”. High class supply, superior standard product, was to become a theme of J.H. Whittaker’s business endeavours.

The Whittaker’s Confectionery Works staff in Wellington, 1930.

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John Rigg continued on in this business well into the 1920s solo, with a record of 1922 showing him importing perfumes from Europe. However sometime during 1896, Whittaker, residing in Wellington at least temporarily – had parted ways with Rigg and established Whittaker’s Confectionery.

A Kiwiana classic: top side of the Peanut Slab, synonymous with school tuck shops of the 1970s-1980s. Photo courtesy of Molly D from Dark Chocolate Diary. 

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In 1897 he seems to be back in Christchurch with the business there, so there’s a possibility that he took the Lichfield Street branch of the business with him in the deal when he and Rigg parted ways. So with the distributing manufactory in Wellington up and running, he also ran the business in Christchurch for the next 16 years, listed as being at Lincoln Road, Addington (1904).
The earliest definite records I can find of Whittaker branded product is caramel toffee, and mint toffee in the 1910s. Recently, a printed earthenware jar surfaced showing that at least in the early days of the company – they were also producing a jam line. Pretty typical for many confectioners to have a number of preserves and sauces in the early days; it just went hand in hand with the cooking processes. The jars which are known to come in two sizes, 14.5cm and 9.5cm respectively, are extremely hard to find with less than ten known to exist, so likely it was produced in small quantities – hence the scarceness of this item. Emblazoned with “Whittaker Brothers“, it turns out that two of his siblings  worked in the confectionery and importation  business with him under that name (but were not financially involved in the enterprise). One source says Walter and Charles  – but it’s likely that it was  actually Charles and Harold –  as their names appear on electoral records for the 1905-1906 years in Christchurch alongside Henry James’s. At the same time a Walter Whittaker appears in Canterbury. I was unable to find definite shipping records for any of the three to confirm what year they may have followed James Henry over to New Zealand- but they probably all came over separately and some time between 1900 and 1905.

These barley sugar tins crop up at auction every two or three years, so still quite hard to get. A similar  tin was also made for Glucose Butterscotch. I’m guessing 1950s.

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Over the first 20 years of their marriage James and his wife had a total of nine children; five boys and four girls, including twins . However it was in 1913, that he established a partnership with two of his sons, Ronald Tawhio Whittaker (1893), and James Whittaker (1894).A  curious consideration here is their age – they weren’t exactly experienced – the oldest not being more than twenty.

The modern K Bar point of sale box still has a classic design and  holds 48 units.

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This is where things get interesting because during the same period, I found that James Whittaker filed for bankruptcy . This was the same year that he had formed J.H. Whittaker & Sons in Wellington with his offspring – this is the Whittaker’s we know and enjoy today. These apparent financial woes occurred when he had now been in the confectionery business in Aotearoa in some form or another for over 22 years.

Doing classic well: Another view of the modern K Bar point of sale box. 

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I had to wonder, was this a coincidence, or whether this was deliberately orchestrated? This is the reason for my curiosity. In his sworn statement at the Supreme Court hearing of his case, he explains that his business in Christchurch had been troubled for more than five years, and one of the reasons he provided for the cashflow problem was that because business was bad – he had to pay more costs for promotion and travellers (agent salesmen) “in the north (island)”.

The design and wrappers have not essentially changed since the 1970s.

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Yet he had deliberately infiltrated the North Island and created an enterprise which became the base for the others (there’s a possibility that he may have had more shops than just the one in Christchurch). He had funneled money into another business and it had affected his available resources and viability. It was by no means a sudden event. I was able to find the 1908 act  under which he was adjudicated, Apparently it seems that filing for bankruptcy did not affect a partnership since he was filing bankruptcy for his Christchurch business, which was not a partnership. Neither of the sons filed for bankruptcy…in fact one of the sons in the Wellington partnership was listed as a creditor. I’d take a guess the whole thing was part of a long-term plan and also just happened to serve the dual purpose in neatly extracting him from a (possibly calculated) financial fix and thus nicely moving things along in the desired direction. No longer responsible for paying the salary for his two partners under Whittaker Brothers, he apparently moved the remainder of his family to Wellington to focus on Whittaker & Sons and his siblings remained in the Canterbury area for the rest of their lives.

The extremely rare Whittaker’s jam jar.  Only about ten intact examples are known. “Brothers” indicates it dates between 1900-1913. Jam historian Peter L. Henson says – “like jam maker Robert Furness of Auckland, these pots were probably imported from C.T. Maling of Newcastle Upon Tyne. Maling captured the market for the production of white pottery with transfer-printed trade labels and was a leader in domestic white ware, being responsible for supplying 90% of the jars for jam makers in England and Scotland, together with exports.”  Photo courtesy of Steve Costello.

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The Whittaker Confectionery Works was situated at Cornhill Street between at least 1913-1916 when they advertise variously for “a capable young woman, good organiser…boy for warehouse…girls for wrapping… experienced sugar boiler”. At this time Whittaker’s acted as agent for Lipton’s Tea and also for Epps’s cocoa, boxed chocolates and custard powder.
By June of 1917 the works had moved to 167-169 Vivian Street and records show that’s where it stayed until at least 1945. What happened after that date is unknown at present, since records after that date are limited.

Whittaker’s issued only five hundred units of this chocolate block featuring navigation buttons from the website. Pieces of the bar were broken up and actually used for the design of their on-line presence. 

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The Whittaker company’s rising fortune meant a move back to “the big smoke ” and that’s where J. H. Whittaker was again by at least 1927, which finds him involved in various organisations such as the City Ambulance Board, the Brooklyn School Committee, the Wellington Civic League Council , and the Birmingham and Midland Counties Association of which the last two he was president. Now in his late fifties he was nearing retirement age and seemed to settle in the Wellington suburb of Brooklyn with his wife for good; first at 40 McKinley Crescent by 1935 and then two years later at Todman St. Also in 1937 the business became a limited liability company (a flexible form of enterprise that blends elements of partnership and corporate structures). Founder J. H. Whittaker died 1947 and his wife Leah a few years later in 1954.

As well as their own confectionery business, Whittaker’s acted as agents for Epps’s and Lipton’s.

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Known products of the 1930s were chocolates, glucose barley sugar, liquorice toffee allsorts, and Mello-O-Mints. Toffee was a big thing for them even back in those days – and varieties included super cream, super nut, chocolate , rhum (sp) and butter, malt and milk, and “toffee selections” – a mix of nine varieties. What their chocolate products were specifically at the time – I don’t know as I have never seen any packaging or ads, in fact vintage Whittaker’s is extremely rare.

Whittaker’s factory in Porirua showing the very smart pod extension (below) designed by Craig, Craig, Moller / Tony Johnston – Architects. Constructed by Turnat Commercial while full production carried on unimpeded.

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It was not all fun and games working in a confectionery factory though; far from it. In 1938 Miss D. Pritchard suffered severe lacerations when she caught her hands in a chocolate machine., and in 1943 Miss C Incledon lost three fingers in a toffee rolling machine. They seemed to be constantly advertising for staff over time, if only replacing digits was that easy.

The 1960s saw fruit mixed toffees, Koff Caramel, and Karamel Bars. Santé probably came along much earlier in the piece but Whittaker weren’t the instigators by a long shot – it was almost generic being produced by Fry’s , Hudson’s, Masson’s, Griffin’s for the Sweetacres line, and Beatall at various times from the 1860s onwards. However in time, Whittaker’s made them a brand name associated with their company alone.

Three flavours of Santé – photo courtesy of Marib on Flickr.

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The Gen-Xer heyday, my time, was the 1970s to 80s and consuming what are now considered the classics: Toffee Milks, those old “tooth pullers” K Bars (orange, lemon, lime, raspberry, pineapple, blackberry fruit toffee) and Peanut Slabs. Say the words “tuck shop” to anyone of that era and their mind will likely go to these three, now iconic, products. I did have pictures of a classic 1970s Toffee Milk box as well as a vintage cast iron Santé  mould, but seem to have misplaced the pictures – which is unfortunate as any images of vintage Whittaker’s are far and few between – and they would have been great to illustrate this article.

An ad for an upcoming release that is getting hype and salivation at present. No word on what date it will be in store yet.

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Products of the nineties that disappeared along the way were Nut Block, Peanut Block, Peanut Hunks, and Sport. In 1992 the company made the beginnings of a trans-Tasman play when they formed J.H. Whittaker Australia Ltd. , making it one of a handful (Four Square, “K” Brand, Aulsebrook’s, Sharpe Bros and Glaxo naming a few) that have successfully established themselves over the ditch.

Bittersweet Peanut Slab, photo courtesy of Moira Clunie from An Auckland Vegan blog.

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In July 2011 Whittaker’s launched their impressive completely themed website by Wellington digital design agency Salted Herring, with the by-line that it was “the world’s first made entirely of chocolate” (not really, well – kind of) and launched a matching limited edition block which was comprised of the website interface elements made in real chocolate. Once the mould had been created, the dark Ghana navigation buttons were photographed and uploaded to become part of the design.

Whittaker’s Chocolate Works Fargo delivery truck 1938, courtesy of the Porirua Historical Society.

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Today James Henry Whittaker’s grandsons Andrew and Brian manage the company, with a focus on “fairness” – fair trade supplies and local employment opportunities, an idea that they were advertising back in the 1930s. The range is extensive . It comprises of all the classics I remember fondly from my youth as well as chunks, squares, bars, Slabs in eleven flavours, Santé in four flavours, Santé three packs, Slab bars in four pieces including new hokey pokey, Slab three packs, Mini-slab bags in nine flavours. There are around twenty five different varieties of blocks including an upcoming peanut butter version, as well as a brand new white raspberry flavour in store within the next few weeks.

Tin from the Whittaker’s company archive collection, unknown era – presumably 1930s.

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Whittaker’s is still made entirely domestically from beginning to end today, at their Porirua factory. In 2009 Whittaker’s was the third most trusted brand in NZ according to a Reader’s Digest survey, and by this year topped the list as most trusted brand ahead of Wattie’s and Cadbury’s. It even beat out St John’s Ambulances. Maybe chocolate is the real life saver after all.

Whittaker’s had a, now collectible, official stamp created by company Black Sheep in 2001.

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Addendum, late November 2012: The Whittaker’s company recently released some new images of vintage packaging from company archives. It gives a more complete vision of what, as it turns out, were the lids of two canisters  that I previously posted above. I thought they were flat tins, sort of like the barley sugar one – very similar to the type of flat container that tobacco was sold in. As it turns out, they were far more substantial. I presume the “boys And Girls” graphic is a POS or a section from a peanut slab box – that’s what it looks like in the character’s hand. 


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