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Archive for the ‘Milkshakes’ Category

We Bring The Flavour

In Carton Specialties, Chips, Drink syrups, Fast Food, Fries, Georgie Pie, Hambugers, Henderson, Henderson Square, Hot Dogs, Huhtamaki International, International Foods '76 Ltd, Lily paper cups, Maurice Gee, McDonalds, Milkshakes, Progressive Enterprises, Spaceman drinks, Tegel poultry, The Longest Drink In Town, Tinsel (N.Z.) Limited, Uncle's Group (New Zealand) Limited, Uncle's Takeaways on February 1, 2015 at 10.46

Uncle's - Love At First Bite copy

A recreation of the Uncle’s takeaway logo. The slogan used here was first trademarked in 1973.

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Recently an Iranian scientist claimed to have invented a time machine that he says will work with 98 percent accuracy (I question the legitimacy of his qualifications, as well as his sanity). Shame about the two percent that doesn’t work, and delivers you to somewhere you never intended to be going – like into an industrial revolution era cesspit, the jaws of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, or even worse – back to third form P.E. class. Anyway, if it’s true – the first thing I am doing is going back to Uncle’s in 1978 for a Sea Dog and a spearmint milkshake in a “Longest Drink in Town” cup.

The Longest Drink in Town super jiani flickr arrowtown

The Longest Drink in Town photographed in Arrowtown, 2012. Image courtesy of super jiani  on Flickr .

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Where I grew up was not known for very much of note; the tinsel Christmas tree factory, those hideous sugary Spaceman drinks, and Maurice Gee (one of these things is not like the others). However, as research progresses I find out other things that people were unaware of at the time, that in retrospect, seem actually kind of amazing.
Yes, we knew Tegel chickens processed birds there because we saw it (and smelled it) every day on our way to school. One popular thing to do was to take a discarded chicken claw and put it inside the cuff of your school jumper and pull the tendons so it was reanimated as you chased screaming girls around the sports field. Personally, I never did this because even I’m not that disgusting. I digress. How could we have never realised that the Spaceman Drinks factory was just a couple of streets away? This is something that was so important that it should have been common knowledge of every school-age person.

Longest Drink in Town recreation copy

A spearmint milkshake-inspired recreation of the cup graphic, apparently first produced in 1968.

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Today I’ve made a new discovery; a company named Huhtamaki Henderson, like Spaceman also in Keeling Street, designed and made that mainstay of takeaways across the country – “The Longest Drink in Town” cups.
Huhtamaki, a global company established in 1920 and based in Finland, has custom designed and manufactured food service products in New Zealand since 1939 when the original business was started as Carton Specialties. Over time they have acquired several other brands and manufacturers like Chinet, Polarcup, Interpac, Van Leer, Insulpak, and also the Lilypak group – which was taken over in 1988. I am sure many remember the Lily paper cups with their chain of simplified green leaves around the rim. Huhtamaki have now been on the same factory site in Keeling Road, Henderson West Auckland since 1962 (as well as now in New Lynn). The “Longest Drink in Town” cup is said to have been first produced in 1968 (although multiple sources quote this date, there’s no actual factual evidence of where this information comes from, and the trademark registrations only say 2006).

Christchurch Stands Tall art project - The Longest Drink in Town from Mr Bun copy

Left: Milkshake with a seafood pie and a custard square from Mr Bun. Image courtesy of Samantha Kwok on Flickr. Right: One of the giraffes created for the recent Christchurch Stands Tall  art project. Many artists and designers have been inspired by the strong Longest Drink graphic over time. Image courtesy of  Felt Blog, felt.co.nz

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Now considered true Kiwiana (although a quite similar, but less stylised design may have originated in Australia in the 1960s) The spotty giraffe is these days more popular than it’s ever been – being produced as a variety of merchandise such as plastic cup sets with a plastic novelty carton-shaped “jug”, paper versions for parties, badges, height charts, cushions, clothing, greeting cards, magnets, tea towels – and even a range of actual milkshake syrups (chocolate, vanilla, banana, lime, strawberry, raspberry, spearmint and caramel ) formerly produced by Tip-Top and now made by Delmaine.

Uncle’s was a small chain I think contained to Auckland and surrounds, that many here will have fond memories of. It was established around 1970 and had two branches in Great North Road I can recall. They had a distinctive American style general theme with bold red, white and blue stripes, which again riffed off the Rocker revival of the late 1970s-early 1980s I mentioned in my previous article. With movies like Grease, and TV shows like Happy Days, this trend filtered into ads for Bluebird chips, Sparkles candy, and products like New American ice cream, Bazooka bubblegum and Frosty Boy.

lily cups-carton specialists-australian sixties longest drink cip copy

Left: vintage Lily cups, probably 1970s. Middle: wax paper Coke cup by Carton Specialties of Henderson, probably 1960s. Right: A Longest Drink paper cup purported to have been manufactured in the 1960s, in Australia. 

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Uncle’s Group (New Zealand) Limited changed their stripy logo to a big, tri-colour “U” around 1986 but it’s the “love at first bite” slogan with a bizarre sprinkle of stylised flowers (why not hearts, I’ve always wondered?) I have reproduced here at the top of the post, which first appeared in 1973, and that will be familiar to most.
Back in the day when it wasn’t necessary to be everything to everyone, Uncle’s kept it simple with basic old school burgers, chunky chips with tomato sauce, and milkshakes. They also made something unusual for the time – hot dogs. A variation was the Sea Dog, which as far as I recall had fried battered fish instead of a frankfurter, with tartare sauce and fried onions (correct me if I’m wrong). Seemingly Uncle’s was still operating in the early 1990s but I don’t know what happened to it; Like Georgie Pie it was probably driven out by the golden arches.

milkshake syrups copy

Left: Longest Drink in Town chocolate syrup, image courtesy of  the Bee Sprinkles blog, beesprinkles.com. Right: Advert for the range of  eight Longest Drink in Town syrups by Delmaine. Image courtesy of Trents Wholesale catalogue 2012. 

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Speaking of which, and expanding on fast food history firsts in the local area, we got the first Georgie Pie in New Zealand up the road in Kelston in 1977, and by 1979 had the fifth McDonalds in New Zealand in Henderson Square (maybe not something to be proud of now – but it was exciting at the time). For some reason I had the idea it was the “first” something or other – and I suspect it was the first McDonalds in a mall – even though it also had a separate entrance from the outside.
Generally fast food chains in New Zealand deserve their very own article, though. However it’s interesting that right where I grew up played a significant part in the history of junk snacks on a number of counts – and many of us never knew it.

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Addendum mid June 2015: Quite soon after I posted this article, maybe even because of it, someone dredged up this photo out of the Turnbull archive. It would have taken me an awful long time to find it, probably when I only ran over it by chance some years down the track given the subject focus is Queen’s Arcade – not Uncle’s. I think that person was probably Auckland historian Lisa Truttman from Timespanner (see blogroll on right of page), so thanks for this, Lisa, if it was you. Image of Queen Street,  April 1982, courtesy of Alexander Turnbull Library, ref WA-76015-F. 

UNCLE'S Queens Arcade street frontage Queen Street Auckland April 1982 Ref WA-76015-F Alexander Turnbull Library edit copy

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Addendum late October 2015: These wax paper Coca-Cola cups came up for auction recently. This is a better image of the same posted above, very likely made by Carton Specialties of Henderson, probably in the 1960s.

add to Uncles Coca-Cola Waxed Cups prob by Carton Specialities Henderson roganstant 1950s according seller edit copy

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

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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.

Popularity Contested

In AB Consolidated, Aulsebrook's, Ballins Breweries, board games, Bournville Cocoa, Cadbury Confectionery Ltd, Cadbury Fry Hudson, Cadbury Schweppes Hudson Ltd, Caley's chocolate, Chelsea Sugar Refinery, Coca-Cola Co., Coca-Cola Company of New Zealand, Crown Lynn, Cuesenaire rods, Doughnuts, Edmonds, Fanta soft drink, Fresca diet soft drink, Fresh-Up juices, Gregg & Co, Gregg's, Gregg's Instant Pudding, Gregg's jelly crystals, Griffin’s, Hi-C juice, Holdsons games, Jaytee Patty Pans, Kaiapoi blankets, Kelston Potteries, Leed soft drink, Mackintosh Caley Phoenix, Mackintosh Caley Phoenix (MCP), Mackintosh's, McAlpine, Milk delivery, Milkshakes, N.Z. Apple & Pear Marketing Board, New Zealand School Journal, Old Spice, Phoenix biscuits, Po Ha crackers, Ready To Read books, Rowntree's, Rowntree's Smarties, Sewing stuff, Sodastream soft drink, The Ministry of Education, Tip-Top, Topsy, Tourism art, Tourist souvenirs, Uncategorized on February 2, 2014 at 10.46

1  85   likes and 49 shares  The Farmers' children's playground, Auckland - this one taken in the 1970s.

The number one most popular image I’ve posted of all time, was this picture of the whimsical playground on top of the Farmers’ department store, which was next to the cafeteria to keep the kids occupied. It was shared around Facebook dozens of times. The recall of playing on the pedal cars and trikes – as well as who took ownership of the toadstool -really struck a cord with everyone. 

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One day not so long ago, I decided to look at the stats on my History Always Repeats page, and, out of curiosity – find out the impact what I’ve posted has had on my readership.
Certainly with this blog, I was really surprised to find that it wasn’t the short, snappy and visual bites people were reading the most – but the longest posts. Which I actually thought people would have less time and patience for…not at all, it seems.

The nature of Facebook is different; it’s pretty much throwaway in comparison. You post, mostly pictures in my case, add a few lines of text maybe, the reaction is pretty much immediate. It starts moving down the feed where it quickly disappears, basically to be forgotten.

Stats on pictures aren’t provided by Facebook -so I had to manually trawl through every single image (which is over 1500 pictures) and rank them in order of “likes” to each image from page members.
I’ve long criticised the unofficial list of Kiwiana icons, and I wrote an article on this topic for “In Search of the Vernacular” which was published last July in New Zealand by The Cultural Mapping Project. I have my own ideas about what is wrong and right in this respect, but even I don’t really know what is “popular” per se. Really,  the only way to really tell is to give over to the public and see what they have to say with their votes – that’s you, my readers and page members.

OK, so have you got your own mental picture of what you think are the most popular items that Kiwi Boomers, X and Y reminisce on? Is it full of Fred Dagg, ice cream cones, Pohutukawas, gumboots, kiwis, pavs and tikis? Well – wrong, wrong, and WRONG (for the most part).

So, below are the top fifty most popular images based on what I have posted since October 2012. The results were actually quite surprising. What was more surprising is what didn’t make it in. Where was Wattie’s, Cookie Bear, and Spaceman drinks? Didn’t score much with the punters, it seems. Forget beer, Beehive matches and those squeezy sauce bottles shaped like tomatoes. Not even close! Lamingtons? Forget it.

It’s quite interesting to see what really butters people’s proverbial scones when it comes to Kiwi nostalgia – and it’s certainly not the typical list of Buzzy Bees, kiwifruits, Tip-Tops and flip flops!
What does this selection tell us? It certainly indicates the way we view ourselves and culture and how very different it is from what we are fed about our own popular “image” as Kiwis.
I suppose a major factor in image ranking is that in the first few months I had an incredibly low level of members – I started with around 30 on the first day, and nothing happened for months. And people don’t often go back and check through old stuff.

It wasn’t until I posted the picture of the cafeteria playground at the flagship Farmers’ Store in Hobson Street, Auckland (ranked number one over all) that it started blowing up as the image went viral. Within a very short time I had suddenly reached 700 members.

Certainly I come from the point of view of an ex-designer and there’s always going to be a focus on the visually appealing in my edit – and thus what ends up in my final selection. To me it was interesting, that what people preferenced did generally have aesthetic appeal – but they weren’t really what I would have hand-picked as the most eye-popping items. In some ways it’s a bit of a motley selection (I mean, the Alf novelty ice cream? Really, people? Really).
I never know what people want to read or look at and try not to care too much about it, but maybe even if it’s subconsciously – I am starting to get a better idea of what content is desired and it’s not all about what I personally think or prefer. Should I change anything about the way I go about things? Probably not, otherwise it would just end up being the same as what everyone else is doing.

It seems clear the image we’ve had forced upon us is a rather false assumption – and the genre is far more subjective with a focus on childish comforts. So is it just a “popularity contest” after all? I have to say I disagree, announced while snugly wrapped in a cosy wool blanket, with a sweet bun, and a hot cup of Bournvita in a nightcap novelty mug.

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2  71  likes 22 shares Little Black Sambo

2. Second  most popular on the list is the classic Helen Bannerman children’s book about the tigers that turn into butter and are used to fry pancakes. This book is still in print and back on the market today, but apparently went through a period where it was banned.

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3 46 likes Ready to Read series, collection of Waterview School. Image courtesy of the Waterview Heritage Project

3. Any time I post a picture of the Ready To Read series from The Ministry of Education, including The Hungry Lambs (not pictured), it gets a very warm reception. Collection of Waterview School. Image © Carla Martell and  courtesy of the Waterview Heritage Project.

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4 44 likes Spirograph

4.  I remember this being around in the 1970s, and certainly was heavily advertised on television. But clearly at number four, much more popular than I recall. 

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5 39 Griffin's broken biscuits

5.  Now I knew this would be a hit. Who doesn’t remember and love broken biscuits? They hold fond memories for many, for various reasons. I remember cardboard boxes with plastic bags full of broken iced animals at the end of the aisles at Gubay’s, and also going with my grandmother and her fellow staff to the Hudson’s factory in Rosebank as a toddler to get tins of  chocolate cookie and confectionery seconds.

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6 36 likes Cadbury Bournvita bakelite Nightcap mug

6. Cadbury’s issued this novelty promo “Nightcap” mug for Bournvita in 1957. It’s not something I’m really familiar with – but apparently a lot of Baby Boomers are as it caused a bit of excitement to see it again. It was still featured on the Bournvita boxes well into 1967 so they must have kept making them for that long.

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8 29 New Zealand Hardie banknote for ten dollars

7.  Something seen by everyone just about every day for years – the Hardie banknote for New Zealand  ten dollars. Now obviously out of circulation and quite collectible.

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7 36  like Milk Deliver s

8. Red top, green top, silver top and juice. Don’t forget to put out your empties, and the right tokens. The days of milk home deliveries, long-lost  to deregulation – something people have a romantic yearning for as it’s just one of a few milk and milk-related entries in this list.

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9 29 likes chinese checkers  1 EDIT

9. The classic game of Chinese Checkers was found in the homes of most, although in my more recent day it looked a little bit different. I guess this one dates from the 1950s.

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10 29 gregg's lime jelly

10.  Gregg’s jellies were around from the 1920s, rivaling Edmonds “Sure To Set”  line, as well as about two hundred other brands over the decades. But it held its own in the marketplace and is still going strong today. Through the 1960s to the 1980s and beyond they issued albums to collect cards – and birds were a trademark theme of the brand. This one dates from around 1981. Image courtesy of Steve Williams collection.

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11 28 likes Topsy Ice Cream Wrapper, mid 1980s

11. Tip-Top’s classic Topsy is purported to be the company’s first novelty, named after one of the founder’s treasured pet cows. This is possible, however Choc Bombs and Eskimo Pies made their appearance in the same decade. This resonates with me because I definitely remember this wrapper well and it didn’t change much for quite a while.  Image courtesy of Steve Williams collection.

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12 26 likes Vintage New Zealand wool blankets.

12. Whenever I post pictures of blankets and labels they always rate highly. We have three blanket-related entries in this top fifty. These are now quite desirable, second hand and bidding at auction can be surprisingly competitive.

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13 26 likes The classic Kiwi cream bun

13. The classic Kiwi  cream doughnut – very different to the American donut – must be filled with cream, a small dollop of raspberry jam, and a dusting of sweet icing sugar over the top to be the real deal. We usually got these at the corner dairy along with a Zap flavoured milk for a Sunday morning treat. These ones seem to have currants in them which isn’t how, I think most people, consider a genuine one.

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14 26 likes milkshalke makers

14. All the ingredients from the milk bar or dairy of yesteryear that you need to make a refreshing and frothy milkshake. It makes me want a cold spearmint one from Uncle’s right now!

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15 26 likes Gregg’s instant pudding

15. The prize for earliest instant milk puddings probably goes to W. F. Tucker’s brand “Sunshine” in the 1910s. It took Gregg’s a good twenty years after that to get their version on the shelves. However, Gregg’s instant pudding is still around today, and Sunshine is long gone! These boxes from a 1972 advert.

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16 25 The camp, the cook, and the cabbage, circa 1890s.

16. This is one of the “go figure” entries that  I guess really appealed to people. I have to admit, it’s one of my very favourites too. “The camp, the cook and the cabbage, Wairarapa”. Image courtesy of the Alexander Turnbull Library Manuscripts and Pictorial collection,  Ref  1/2-022483-F .

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17   25 likes Poha Fire Crackers label, image courtesy of Owain Morris Collection

17. The most popular item before and on Guy Fawkes night, was traditionally these crackers, which were available for a few cents at local dairies (milk bars).  The meaner kids would throw them at others to frighten them after school.  Image courtesy of Owain Morris collection.

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18 18 23 likes Leed lemonade by the Coca-Cola Company of New Zealand, early 1970s

18. Testament to its popularity, Leed, by the Coca-Cola Co., appears in this list twice. Ironically  their namesake drink didn’t even rank in the top 100 – but Fanta – also by this company – does as well.

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19  19 23 likes Gregg Pudding late 1970s-early 1980s

19. Appearing twice in this top fifty list means the humble pud from Gregg’s is something held dear by Kiwis. Personally I don’t get it. This range from the late 1970s, which by this time had ten flavours. I remember the orange one was particularly horrid. And I don’t much like the look of this one either. Oh well, no accounting for taste. 

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20 23 likes Crown Lynn Book Cover - Valerie Ringer Monk

20. More lurid patterns stick out for me than soft, tasteful Martha Stewart-type pastels as pictured here. Crown Lynn has come a long way since Rice Owen Clark wrapped logs in clay and burned them to fire his own pipes in Hobsonville, Auckland way back in the 1850s, then started filling orders for neighbours who liked what they saw. The rest is history. Image courtesy of Valerie Monk and  Penguin Books.

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21 22 likes the sound of the milk truck and the rattle of coins in the bottle elizabethjconz

21. Milk again, this time bottles in the classic plasticized wire holder that would nestle six in it – whether full or empty. Image courtesy of and © Elizabeth J Photography http://www.elizabethj.co.nza

22 22 likes Fanta bottles with original contents 1 EDIT copy

22. Full, unopened Fanta bottles of the 1970s.  Maybe people wouldn’t be so keen on it if they knew it had literally been invented for the Nazis by Coca-Cola. Don’t believe me? Look it up.

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23 21 likes Auckland Zoo Dragon 1970s

23. This picture was taken in 1980-1981 for a promotional postcard as reader Wendy Snookes (Tisdall) remembers posing for it; that’s her in the yellow dress on the left. The Auckland Zoo’s big concrete dragon has been around since I was little, and who knows how long before that. There’s a photo of me somewhere sitting on one of the toadstools they used to have nearby, in an orange, green and purple crochet jumpsuit. You can’t get more Seventies than that. 

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24 21 Kelston Potteries Daisydesign teacup and plate, with Alfred Meakin mustard  saucer late 1960s to early 1970s

24. This Kelston Potteries (a subsidiary of Crown Lynn, this makes it the second entry) Daisy design teacup and plate, with  an Alfred Meakin “Mustard” design  saucer dates from the late 1960s to early 1970s.

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25 21 Inside Mum's sewing kit

25. Stuffed with Tui rick-rack, Sylko or Dewey wood reels, Dorcas pins, and random beads, hat pins and ribbons – the classic contents of a sewing kit or drawer, often stashed in one of those old wood and cast iron Singer sewing machine stands, is always a big hit with my readers. Image courtesy of and  ©  Bronwyn Lloyd  at Mosehouse Studio.

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26  19 likes Old Spice aftershave bottle, 1970s-1980s

26. Old Spice by Shulton Ltd appeared on the market as an aftershave in the Sixties – and by the 1970s  the range had extended to Original, Lime and Burley each with shaving sticks and several types of deodorants. I remember my father wearing this when I was a child and his whole morning “ritual” with the aftershave, cuff-links and knotting the tie – so I can understand why it brings back fond memories for so many. It pretty much had the market locked up for a long time but I  think it lost it’s monopolyin the 1980s with the advent of designer fragrances flooding the market fell out of favour.

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27 19 likes A variety of labels from wool blankets

27. Our second blanket entry is a collage of labels from various brands. I guess they bring back comforting memories for people in a number of ways – cosy winter nights, drowsily listening to parents talk, in another room, the sound of late night TV shows in the distance, sleepovers, visiting relatives, holidays, and other special occasions. It’s no surprise they resonate so much.

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28  19 Have a Coke - Kia Ora was painted between 1943 and 1945 for the Coca-Cola Company of New Zealand

28. Much of the Coke advertising was always a run-on off from American campaigns – but this one named  “Have a Coke – Kia Ora” – was a Kiwi creation and specifically painted between 1943-1945  for the Coca-Cola Company of New Zealand, not long after the product went domestic.a

29 18 likes Toltoys Bug Catcher, 1970s

29. Along with other popular toys, just about everyone had one of these bug catchers in the 1970s. The dying days of manual fun. Not long after this small hand-held consoles like Donkey Kong were the rage and it was imperative to have one. That was the beginning of the end as toys entered the digital age, and imagination started to atrophy.

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30  18 likes School Journal Album

30. First the School Journal was wrapping up. Then maybe it wasn’t. Now I’m not sure what’s true. It seems like it is done though,  and state-owned Learning Media is closing its doors, bringing to the end possibly the longest-running magazine in Kiwi history – having had it’s first issue published in 1907, the first instance that any kind of school book was published domestically. Cover artwork by Jill McDonald, image courtesy of the Auckland Museum Collection

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31 18 likes Rowntrees Smarties box, mid 1970s.

31. Rowntree’s Smarties box, mid 1970s. Rowntree’s products were produced under licence first by Mackintosh Caley Phoenix (MCP) whose Dunedin factory as acquired along with the Bycroft business in 1961 and became known as AB Consolidated  -until it wound down in the late Seventies, and reverted to Aulsebrook’s. Image courtesy of Steve Williams collection.

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32 18 likes Leed bottle, unopened and with original contents, late 1970s-early 1980s

32. Leed, a softly lemon-flavoured fizzy drink that arrived on the scene in the 1970s to great success, and was phased out in 1984 to be replaced by the more American-style Sprite. The second entry in this top fifty list for this drink, that has proven to be very popular even in retrospect – and is still pined over to this day.

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33 18 likes kitchen stuff

33. The classic line-up from the New Zealand kitchen cupboard for baking: Cadbury’s Bournville cocoa powder, golden syrup from CSR, cake cups from Jaytee, and good old Edmonds “Sure To Rise” baking powder which has been around since 1879 and is still one of the few most successful brands today (although the range is now in the dozens of products).

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34 18 likes cuisinere rods

34. Cuesenaire rods were invented in the early 1950s in Belgium – it’s not a Kiwi creation. They were meant to help educate in matters of elementary maths using different lengths and colours from one centimetre (white) to ten (orange). Fun to play with, but the plastic material they were made from had a really nasty smell I recall. Kind of like crayons, rotten oranges and shoe polish. Gag!

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35 17 Visit New Zealand, Maori Wonderland, travel Poster, circa 1930s

35. A lovely Maori maiden features in this travel Poster, circa 1930s, by Carl Thorwald Laugesen, probably done for the New Zealand  Government Tourist Office. This is what I was talking about, when I’ve come to understand what people want. To me this is predictable. It’s a nice piece, and as exemplified in it’s ranking it has popular appeal, but generally I try to stay away from showcasing this stuff as I feel it’s territory that has been well and truly gone over a number of times by others. To the detriment of other areas of New Zealand design which have in my opinion been neglected. 

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36 17 likes Sodastream bottles from the early 1980s

36. SodaStream bottles from a plastic machine that made soft drinks at home. The carbonated bullets and syrups came separately, and no water filters back then – it was filled up straight from the taps. We used to sip the highly sugary cordial straight out of the bottles, which when I think of now is disgusting. Actually, it was disgusting, then, too!

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37 17 likes Maori souvenir doll

37. There were a variety of these souvenir Maori dolls over the years, all slightly differing and often seen in glass china cabinets along with other tacky but sentimental knick-knacks. Now often seen in junk shops and garage sales instead, they still have sentimental appeal but just not in today’s home, apparently.

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38 17 likes Classic Aeroplanes, often seen in the five, ten or twenty cent mixture bag

38. Jet Planes were popularised by Griffin’s, but soon became generic in those little glass dairy compartments along with cent lollies, wine gums and pineapple lumps. Griffin’s was established  in the 1880s  with biscuits, and in 1885 started offering confectionery. It survived several ownership changes through the Nineties and Noughties and is still going strong today.

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39 17 likes BANANA BASKET - Plastic Coated Woven Cane EDIT

39. “Banana Baskets” were around in the 1950s-1960s,  useful to hold a variety of goods for those smaller trips to the corner store, when something like this would suffice. In time they just weren’t in any way big enough to cope with the volume of goods bought for consumption from those new-fangled supermarkets – and were pretty much retired by the 1970s. I think a lot of them ended up as wool baskets. Or hanging in the garage with trowels and seeds in them.

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40 17 likes A variety of steel soft drink and juice cans, of the early 1980s

40. A variety of late 1970s steel cans – Long-running Ballins (established in Auckland prior to 1876, no matter what the official company history says about Christchurch). Like American imports such as Tab, Fresca was one of the early, popular diet drinks that was introduced onto the New Zealand market. Leed we have covered, and Fresh-Up was still a small range of three or four varieties at this time but exploded into quite a large line by the mid 1980s. Hi-C juice, I don’t think lasted very long. 

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41 17 Kaiapoi blanket label

41. The classic Kaiapoi blanket’s label.  Think of all the hours you spent examining them as you tried to fall asleep, or waited for everyone else to wake up. They are pretty much ingrained in all of our memories indelibly.

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42  16 likes The pocket version of Simon was issued in New Zealand by Milton Bradley in 1983.

42. Simon Says was a futuristic (well, it was then) electronic game that was heavily advertised on the box. It was extremely popular for a short time with it’s disco dance floor slash Buck Rogers inspired light-up panels, honks and bleeps. They now sell for a lot in working order. This is an even rarer pocket version. It sold on Trade Me for two or three hundred dollars.

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43 16 LIKES jump suits for the 1974 Commonwealth Games held in New Zealand

43. New Zealand’s snazzy uniform for the  Commonwealth Games held in our country in 1974. I think they got high jump confused with high pants.

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44 16 like Air New Zealand plastic Tiki, a common promo gift to all passengers from circa 1970

44. Ah, the complimentary plastic tiki once gifted to every passenger from Air New Zealand. Once fairly common, these are now kind of collectible. I think this one is from the 1970s.

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45 15 likes Tip-Top's Alf novelty ice cream box front, based on the wildly popular TV series of course.Issued around 1988

45. Was ALF really that popular? For those that don’t know, it was a TV series that ran until  from 1986-1990 about an extraterrestrial creature that crash-lands from space into a suburban family’s garage. This was a period when Tip-Top were releasing fairly sophisticated licensed novelties like Pink Panther and Mickey Mouse, amongst some. Image courtesy of Steve Williams collection.

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46 15 likes The Longest Drink In Town

46. Once handed to you at every takeaway across the land – there has been a  retro revival of this ubiquitous milkshake cup design of the 1970s-1980s  recently – thanks to renewed recognition of it’s cool and unique design. It can now be found on everything from tee shirts to plastic tumbler sets and cushions (and back in a lot of takeaways of course). Image courtesy of  and © Lucinda McConnon on Flickr.  

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47 15 likes Griffin's Sampler biscuit tin, circa late 1970s-early 1980s

47. Griffin’s biscuit samplers – ubiquitous at Christmas with their pink iced wafers and Cameo Cremes through the 1970s and 1980s. This brand  has remained one of the most successful in the country for more than 130 years for their biscuits and also classic confectioneries such as Deck, Minties, Sparkles, Pebbles and Snifters  among some (none of which, amazingly, made it onto the list…and Jaffas just missed out). This tin from the mid-late Eighties.

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48  15 likes Fresh-Up large apple juice and orange tin, late 1970s

48. A bulk size Fresh-Up can of the late 1970s. The drink was introduced in 1961 by the Apple and Pear Marketing board in two varieties of juice to immediate success and remained a popular brand over the decades, branching out into canned fruit, pulps, and pie fillings.

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49 likes A really nice pair of jugs

49. The classic McAlpine jug which was a promotional giveaway in the 1950s with refrigerators of the same name. Now highly collectible, they can sell into the hundreds depending on colour, like this rarer green example. I think the popularity of this image had more to do with the subtitle I gave it – ” showing you my lovely pair of jugs”.

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50  likes  Holdson's Tiddly Winks

50. And finally, the classic Tiddly Winks from Holden – an entertainment staple of every games cupboard  at the batch or for rainy days.

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