Archive for the ‘Nestlé’ Category

Gettin’ ‘Round To It

In Bernard Roundhill, Butland Industries, Bycroft Biscuits, Cargill canned foods, Carr Advertising Studios, Crest Fine Foods, Diamond O-Tis, Fred Carr, Highlander condensed milk, History Always Repeats, Innes drinks, Koefoeds condiments, Nestlé, Nyal, Oak, Palmolive-Colgate, Persil, Peter the Pilot, The Mirror magazine, Thompson & Hills, Timaru Milling Co, Yates seeds on October 29, 2015 at 10.46

1 Nyal Milk of Magnesia POS prob Roundhill sml

One of a series of Nyal point-of-sale display cards of the early 1950s. A series of them turned up for grabs at auction, but whether they were all by Roundhill or some were done by another artist in the series – remains unconfirmed. Certainly this highly airbrushed style was a trademark of his, as we know.


I have had a very busy year, so obviously I’ve had little time to put up new stories for the most part. I haven’t posted anything since February, my bad – and the time has just slipped away. Even my page on Facebook, History Always Repeats, has slowed down quite a bit (although the membership is increasing rapidly anyway). My previous semester was totally frustrating and as a result mentally exhausting (mostly due to the complete disorganization of others) and after it was done I just didn’t want to know about anything for a while.
This is the first time I have had a break since late 2010 when I started Longwhitekid – so perhaps it’s just a natural progression; that’s how it feels. I’ve written at least 175 stories during that time including magazine articles which is quite a lot. A rest is always good – even if it’s unexpected. And this break from publishing was not at all planned, however when I return in a few weeks there will be some big changes afoot.

So it’s probably all part of an inevitable reboot that has been coming for a while, anyway. Things just need to change about the way I am doing this if it is to continue. It doesn’t mean I haven’t been researching and writing; but arranging the actual posts is a lot of work in its self and my focus is elsewhere right now as I finish up on the manuscript, that I have mentioned on and off for the last four years. So the Longwhitekid project is far from over; I am still enthused and have a long list of topics I’d like to tackle.

In the meantime here is a collection of further images by Bernard Roundhill that have come into my possession (this is not all of them, just a portion from this most prolific designer which keep turning up, or I suddenly realise after years – that something I’ve had all along is by him). The original article, which has been incredibly well received, was ‘Unblemished Record’ and can be found here. And I hate to blow my own horn but it is the definitive article on him (although Richard Wolfe’s one was pretty good).  I have also updated fifteen or so other past stories – although there is still lots to do in this respect. This will have to be adequate for now.

Sweet Little Lies: The Curious Sally Lunn
I’ve added an advert from a Pahiatua 1950s publication which sheds more light on the timeline of this sweet treat’s history in Aotearoa.

Elbe’s Ice Cream: The Plot Thickens
I am in receipt of family photos including pictures of the brand’s proponent, Fred Elbe (Jr.), so we finally get to see what he looked like – as opposed to his Dad – which was the best I could do at the time of publishing.

Bite Size: Piccin’ Bones
An earlier popping corn on the market, named ‘Fun’, may have had some bearing on the background of this brand.

A Frosty Phenomenon
I’ve added some boxes that have been kindly lent to me from Hocken collection by ephemera librarian Katherine Milburn.

We Bring The Flavour
An image has come to light of an Uncle’s branch on Queen Street, Auckland, as well as a better picture of paper Cola cups by Carton Specialties.

When Lactose Goes
I’ve added a few boxes and adverts as well as images of two cream cans that flesh out the story of this brand somewhat.

Bite Size: Frisco Candy Kitchen
I came into a lot of extra information on photographer and confectioner Swales, which clarified this story. So I have rewritten it a bit. Oh, and there’s a nice colour postcard of K Road showing his store.

Bite Size: Beats Me
A paper wrapper from an Australian ‘Beatall’ tin raises some questions about Nestlé’s potential involvement in this brand.

Bite Size: Cruel Candy
I’ve added six Allen’s wrapper designs for different lines, which I remember being on the market through the 1980s.

Somewhat Wireless, But Not Brainless
A ‘Safety First’ board game appeared recently featuring the character (whose name I had wrong) so I have made adjustments to images to reflect this,  and added some more.

Iced VoVos: Who Did It First?
Two rarely seen adverts from 1960 featuring this iconic biscuit cropped up so I decided to add them to this story for posterity, although it still doesn’t shed any light on the historical mystery.

Projecting The Past
I’ve added more images of Wattie’s pea can novelty promotional lighters. I still love this collection as I consider it one of the best lots I’ve ever snagged from a Trade Me auction.

Coupon Conquest
An advert for a swap club advert from a newspaper changes the way I’ve been looking at these fundraisers thus far. Many more versions of these swap sets have also turned up lately in the Hocken collection and at auction, yet some particular swaps from more common competition sets remain totally elusive to date.

Native Talent
A yet unseen 1937 book by A.W..B. Powell turned up at auction a while back, so I have included it here. Did this man ever release a book with an ugly cover? Nope, apparently not.



2a Oak - Bartlett Pears label - Mike Davidson - poss Roundhill art edit copy sml

Those pears are undeniable: A can label for Thompson & Hills’s ‘OAK’ brand Bartletts, probably dating from the late 1950s-early 1960s. Image courtesy Mike Davidson collection.


2b Persil card advert poster found in Blenheim shop roof cavity Whitcombe & Tombs Ltd poss Bernard Roundhill copy

A large point-of-sale display card advert for Persil dating from the late 1940s to early 1950s. I’m actually a little confused about what’s going on here with these two. Anyone? 


3 KOEFOEDS Chutney in Jar – Bycroft Boy POS - Bernard Roundhill artwork copy

L: A label for the H.L. Koefoed brand of chutney. This was probably their last gasp in the 1960s; they’d been around making sauces for eighty years at least by this point. Included is goop which is fifty year old condiment. I’ll pass, thanks.
R: The second, later version of the ‘Bycroft Boy’ with the trademark ‘Droste effect’ or, formally ‘mise en abyme‘ which was also a feature of the earlier version by Leslie Bertram Rykers in the 1920s. 


7 Cargill canned Rabbit, 1936-1955 By S Ward (N.Z.) Ltd 1 poss Roundhill

Ward’s ‘Cargill’ brand whole tinned rabbit, made between 1936 and 1955. Image courtesy of the Alexander Turnbull Library collection, ref Eph-A-MEAT-1940s-01. Artist is unknown but we can assume it is Roundhill’s work.


8 YATES MIONARCH PEA COLELCTION New Zealand Herald, , 14 September 1940, Page 9 edit

I always wondered what the unspecified ‘Monarch’ was exactly, in Roundhill’s list of known jobs. I had decided that, being a rather common name, it was either shoes, smallgoods or irons. However it turns out it was a line of pea seeds under a long-term client of Roundhill’s; Yates. This advert from the  New Zealand Herald, September 1940. Image courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand.


9 Bernard Roundhill Girl Skating Magazine Cover prob for mirror 1951 Te Papa regno CA000660 fs 001 fs 0005

‘Girl Skating’, magazine cover probably for The Mirror, Bernard Roundhill, 1951. Image courtesy of The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa collection, reg no CA000660/001/0005. It’s good to see more items from their extensive collection of Roundhill’s work finally going up online in recent months. 


9a Bernard Roundhill Original design for Oak meat pie says CREST 1959 Te Papa re no CA000663 fs 001 fs 0002 edit copy

Original design for OAK meat pie packaging, by Bernard Roundhill, 1959. However, it clearly says Butland’s Crest Foods on the artwork.  It was likely done just post the Unilever ownership changeover in this year when they expanded the product range. Both Crest and OAK were longstanding clients. However I have no evidence the latter ever made pies. Image courtesy of The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa collection, reg no CA000663/001/0002


9b INNES soft drink BOTTLES labels prob by Brnard Roundhill copy

Six different soft drink labels created by Roundhill for C.L. Innes & Co in the mid-1950s. Several more are in The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa collection here, including the ‘Jaffajuice’ one. 


9c Nyal family medicine display unit, ordered by Frederick Stearns, Stearns and Co, manufacturing chemist 1947 Clifton Firth edit

Nyal’s Figsen laxative display unit, for Frederick Stearns and Co, manufacturing chemist, with a point-of-sale display card from a series probably by Bernard Roundhill. Photo by Clifton Firth, 1950s. Image Courtesy of  Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries Heritage Images, ref 34-S502.


9d Nyal Throat Tabs POS Showboard EDIT poss Bernard Roundhill

A series of Nyal point-of-sale display cards of the early 1950s. A series of them turned up at auction, but whether they were all by Roundhill or some were done by another artist in the series – remains unconfirmed. 


4 PETER THE PILOT’S NZ CARD ALBUMS 1939 Bernard Roundhill edir copy

A Peter the Pilot album of 1939 by Timaru Milling. It’s said Roundhill created the character and illustrated him, at least to start with; however there is now some debate whether he or Carr, another employee at Coulls Somerville Wilkie, came up with it. Certainly Carr worked on the account in the 1940s through to the 1950s and some of the early Peter Pilot stuff looks like his style more than Roundhill’s – there’s always been a question mark hanging over it. That said, early days and developing skills, I guess.


5 highlander condensed milk label - front 1970s 1980s prob Bernard Roundhill - crop

The Highlander milk can label, with the classic design by Roundhill in his typical dark blue linework, remained in use for decades. I really should have included this with the original article; it is along with the Air New Zealand koru, and the Teachatot box one of the images by him completely ingrained in the consciousness of many Kiwis – and as such one of the consummate iconic works of his large oeuvre. 


6 Palmolive Shaving Cream Original Litho by Chandler and cO 1950's 52 x 26 cm poss Bernard Roundill edit copy

A card point-of-sale display by Chandler and Co from a series of lithographs done for Palmolive-Colgate  products, probably by Roundhill, circa late 1940s-early 1950s. It’s possible Bernard Roundhill worked for Chandler when he moved to Auckland around 1946; he was known to have worked for a now unknown advertising concern for a short time, before striking out on his own. However which business that was exactly has been lost to time.





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


Bite Size: Cruel Candy

In A&R bubblegum, A.W. Allen, Allen's confectionery, Allens & Regina bubblegum, Big Charlie bubblegum, Bubble Gum, Candy, Chewing Gum, Chewing Gum Products Ltd, Confectioner, confectionery, Heards confectionery, J. Romison & Co. Ltd., Kool Fruits and Kool Mints, Lifesavers, Lifesavers candy, Mackintosh's, Mackintosh's confectionery, Mackintosh's Toffee De Luxe, Mad Hot Rods bubblegum, Nestlé, Oddfellows mints, Playtime gum, Regina Confections., Romison's confectionery, Steam Rollers mints, Topps bubblegum on October 26, 2014 at 10.46

Cruel Candy LWK copy

In 1910 in Melbourne, Australia, an elderly man was killed by a steamroller in a tragic accident. John Tanner, walking in front of the machine on the job for the local council, was momentarily distracted by a ratchet horse trotting along the road, and was squashed flat from foot to chin. The end…but maybe not.

Allen's steam rollers made in NZ Jon Fabian edit copy

New Zealand-made  Steam Rollers wrapper and logo detail, note how at this time the Allen’s brand seems to have been scrubbed. Image courtesy of Jon Fabian collection.


This event apparently inspired the illustration that formed the packet design for “Steam Roller” mints, so the story goes. I don’t know how much truth there is to this tale that was circulated amongst children of the 1960s, but even if it’s an urban myth I don’t really care – because it makes such a good story. Regardless the fact that someone did befall this unfortunate accident that’s claimed to be depicted –  is an interesting coincidence. If this wasn’t the idea that spawned the creepy design, then on its own it’s inexplicable and very strange. The fellow in it clearly looks to be in agony and distress, and not in a comedic way. If it wasn’t Tanner’s unfortunate demise that sparked the Steam Rollers imagery, then why did they choose it?

Allen's steam rollers Collector cards Australia Jon Fabian 1

Allen’s collector cards advertising  Steam Rollers, Image courtesy of Jon Fabian collection..


Most of the adverts for the candy seem to be from 1933, so a guess would be they were perhaps launched around that time. Of course Allen’s, originally an Australian brand with its roots in the 1890s, had quite a history in New Zealand. In fact the wrapper featured here, found in an Australian tome where it had been used as a bookmark, was made in Aotearoa, seemingly sometime in the 1990s, I’m guessing. It goes right back to their complicated involvement with the (recently revived) Regina brand, with which they joined forces and made A&R and Playtime bubblegum from the mid 1960s, and Big Charlie and Topps for a while in the 1980s, amongst other lesser known and short-lived brands. Most people would remember the hundreds of different sets of collector cards that were issued over the years by Allens & Regina like “Mad Hot Rods” which were hugely popular and are still highly collectable today.

A DREADFUL DEATH BY STEAM ROLLER Barrier Miner Broken Hill NSW Wednesday 20 July 1910 copy

Tanner’s death: Barrier Miner, Broken Hill, NSW. Wednesday 20 July, 1910. Image courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia.


I also remember the others in the Allen’s range of wrapped roll candies – Butter Menthols, Fruit Tingles, Soothers, Kool Fruits and Kool Mints, Butter Scotch, Anticol lozenges, and I think Irish Moss jubes, Mixed Fruit and Black Currant Pastilles. I’m sure they finally stopped making Steam Rollers and the others quite a few years back; they were definitely still round in the late Eighties, but what happened after that – I don’t know. Steam Rollers were finally discontinued in Australia around 2012. But right until the end the macabre logo remained.

Allen's steam rollers Collector cards Australia Jon Fabian 1930s blue copy

Allen’s collector cards advertising  Steam Rollers, Image courtesy of Jon Fabian collection..


Ownership of the Allen’s business in New Zealand passed to Nestlé sometime between 1989 and 1994 (sources differ), from there on the brand acquired the long-running Heard’s, Mackintosh’s, Lifesavers and Oddfellow brands along the way – later making Sporties, Minties, Slammers and Fantales. The Allen’s range is still going today, albeit whittled down to just a few lines in Aotearoa and only a couple of the “classics” left. In Australia Allen’s still claim to be the top-selling sugar confectionery brand – but like the story about the Steam Rollers logo, I can’t say how reliable this is.

Addendum late October 2015: These Allen’s paper wrappers were auctioned recently. They are Australian; but I’m sure they were more or less identical in Aotearoa as I seemed to remember them as soon as I saw them. 




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

Bite Size: Mallowed With Time

In Adams Bruce Ltd, Aulsebrook's, Aulsebrook's confectionery, Cadbury Confectionery Ltd, Cadbury Fry Hudson, Cadbury Schweppes Hudson Ltd, Cadbury's, Chocolate, Chocolate Fish, Chocolate marshmallow eggs, Chocolate Snowballs, confectionery, Easter, Innovex Holdings, Marshmallow, Nestlé, Queen Anne chocolate, Rainbow confectionery, Regina Confections. on April 23, 2014 at 10.46

Easter Egg  LWK copy copy I haven’t really been very good so far at sticking to posts about significant annual events and holidays of note, and as such, I last previously posted on Easter in 2011 here. Then …nothing. Also, I just don’t have very much good Easter shit in my collection – which is amazing, since it’s one of the biggest things of the year at retail. Easter-related stuff just doesn’t crop up that much. I guess the majority was foil wrapping and hard to salvage.

aCadbury chocolate marshmallow Easter eggs 2012 bitten


With all good intention I took these snaps this time two years ago in order to post but I didn’t get around to it. Some friends had their family bring over various sweet treats on a visit to Australia – and since it was March, some naturally happened to be Eastery things – such as these Cadbury marshmallow eggs which were in store at the time.

a Cadbury chocolate marshmallow Easter eggs 2012 bitten  100_3959 edit copy

A wrapper and tray from New Zealand Cadbury chocolate marshmallow eggs, in 2012.


I was dying to try them to see if they tasted in any way similar; and to my delight everything about them was amazingly – exactly the same. Under my “supervision” half the pack quickly disappeared down my gullet before they were snatched away for safekeeping.

a nestle vintage easter egg 1936 0r 1938 lightened

A seventy-something years old Nestle chocolate Easter egg that I previously wrote on in April 2011.


This didn’t start out as a treatise on the history of such a specific item; which is just as well since apparently there is little to know. Marshmallow products had been around fairly early on in Aotearoa – Aulsebrook’s were producing a variety of mallows- plain, toasted, raspberry and chocolate-covered – by the early 1900s, and chocolate covered marshmallow bars and “snowballs” started to popularise in the 1930s. Of course then came that icon Chocolate Fish of which the first mention I’ve seen is in the early 1940s.

a BRITANNIA THEATRE Ponsonby MARSHMALLOW EASTER EGG  - New Zealand Herald, Volume LXXVI, Issue 23316, 8 April 1939, Page 24

A chocolate marshmallow egg giveaway at one of a number of Auckland theatres in the mid-late 1930s: This one at The Britannia,  Zealand Herald, 8 April 1939, Page 24.


The earliest record I have for actual chocolate marshmallow eggs is by Adams Bruce Ltd. for the Queen Anne brand in the 1950s, which are fondly remembered by many. I am sure that Aulsebrook’s and Cadbury also launched theirs at this time however the earliest I know of is 1960s for the former and 1970s for the latter.

a Cadbury chocolate marshmallow Easter eggs 2012 edit 1 copy

A wrapper and tray from New Zealand Cadbury chocolate marshmallow eggs, in 2012.


Rainbow was founded in 2001 by the regrouping of Regina workers (banded together as Innovex Holdings) who found themselves out of work and the factory premises empty courtesy of the then owners Nestlé. They “recommenced” the business on site, successfully continuing most of the classic Regina products under the new name – and just recently repurchased the rights to the original classic Regina brand and relaunched it. Point is, that this product means that Regina had a history of making chocolate marshmallow eggs, but how early they started I don’t know.

aaCadbury Fire Chicks Easter Egg 1960s Cadbury Schweppes Hudsion post 1969

A box from a chocolate Easter egg, dating from the very early 1970s.


However – someone in Auckland (Heard’s, Brown Bros and Geddes, or maybe Nestlé) was making them earlier though – for in the 1930s several cinemas in that city offered them as a free gift to children attending their special Easter matinees. They get no mention elsewhere, or ever again until at least 1946.

a Rainbow Marshmallow Easter Eggs (1) EDIT copy

Wrapper from a carton of chocolate marshmallow eggs made by Rainbow, formerly Regina Confections. This means that Regina had a history of making chocolate marshmallow eggs, but how early they started is uncertain. 


They have traditionally always been two halves of white marshmallow with an orange circle in the centre representing the yolk; both pieces then fully enrobed in milk chocolate and then sandwiched together, and either wrapped in decorative foil or in later years nestled with several others in a plastic tray or carton and sealed in a closed plastic sleeve wrapper.

aa Rainbow Marshmallow Easter Eggs (4) copy copy copy

A tray of chocolate marshmallow eggs made by Rainbow.


They are on occasion available in Sydney – I remember one year that Woolworths had a display of them and they disappeared pretty quickly indeed. They’ve also imported Rainbow ones from time to time – I also got the ones pictured in Woolworth’s.

a Easter Egg mould 8 cm across edit copy

A vintage metal mould for making chocolate Easter eggs, sixteen centimetres in circumference.


After sampling some Australian Cadbury ones recently at a family gathering in Sydney – which in appearance look exactly the same – they don’t quite taste the same. I don’t know if there’s a difference between the Oz-produced version and the Nizild ones – but my eyebrows just didn’t raise in the way they did when I bit into the Kiwi made versions again for the first time in nearly thirty years and that rush of memories from my childhood came flooding back.

aaVintage Cadburys Griffins Easter egg wrappers two copy

Griffin’s and Cadbury foil wrappers from Easter eggs of the late 1970s.


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

Bite Size: The Sugar Boiler

In Auckland confectionery companies, Chelsea Sugar Refinery, Chelsea Village, Confectioner, confectionery, CSR sugar, Edward Sharp & Sons Ltd, Nestlé, Sharp's confectionery, Super-Kreem toffee, The Colonial Sugar Refining Company, toffee, Waller & Hartley confectioners on November 7, 2013 at 10.46

Sugar Boiler LWK copy sml

I was excited to discover one morning last week that Facebook have finally introduced an edit feature to statuses, meaning that for the first time you don’t have to annoyingly delete and re-post – sometimes multiple times – every instance in which you want to make a change or correction to something. You’d think this feature would be logical to include but apparently not – and they’ve never had it until now.

With this in mind, I suddenly thought up that it may be an interesting challenge to do something with that on Longwhitekid’s sister page History Always Repeats. I came up with a novel idea to live-research a story throughout the day by editing a status as I went.

Facebook 3

However I quickly realised that the feature hadn’t quite rolled out to everyone at this point- and definitely doesn’t extend to pages (not yet, anyway) – and this wasn’t going to work as planned.

Never fear, I deleted my first post and set up a new album and commenced to unravel the story. As it turns out adding a number of pictures kept it interesting anyway, as I rambled away to myself. The premise was an ad I found in papers past, of an experienced British confectioner seeking employment in that field in Auckland in 1935. I decided to find out some more about his life and career and just see where it took me. As it turns out it wasn’t a dud at all.

The album is here with the comments underneath telling the story as I progressed. Partington was no relation to the well-known milling family of Auckland, that I know of.




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

The Bugle Boy of Company F: Creamoata and Sergeant Dan

In Bluebird Foods Ltd, breakfast, Cereal, Champion Flour, Chandler & Co, Charlotte Lilian Lawlor, Cream O' Groats, Creamoata, Doctor's Cream O' Groats, Fleming & Co, Fleming & Gilkinson, Fleming and Company Limited, Fleming Gray and Company, Goodman Fielder, Milk Oaties, Nestlé, Northern Roller Mills (NRM), Oatie-Nuts, Sergeant Dan, Sergeant Dan's Stockfoods Ltd, Snowball Flour, Sweet Heart O' Wheat, Thistle Oatmeal, Thomas Fleming, Uncle Toby's on July 25, 2012 at 10.46

I purchased these scraps of a disintegrating Fleming & Co “Milk Oaties” box from one of my favourite dealers . He always comes with the most incredible stuff – I have no idea where he finds it (and I wouldn’t dare to ask). I have only seen one before in the last five years that I can recall – it was whole but faded. Any of the original Fleming boxes usually sell for a competitive price since the chances anyone would keep one for decades is highly unlikely – and means they are rare and desirable examples of early New Zealand packaging.
Anyway, nobody else looking at this would bother, but I could see the potential to patch it back together digitally and restore it and so it was won for a nominal price with no interest at all from other parties. According to my database this design was definitely in production between the years 1938 to 1941 – probably a little earlier, as well as later.

Thomas Fleming (1848-1930) is now considered the major pioneer of the milling industry in New Zealand. His parents arrived to New Zealand from Scotland in 1862 with several children and another on the way.
Although he initially had jobs in other fields, such as gardener and cowboy, – around 1870 whilst visiting his brother in Oamaru on the lower west coast of the South Island, he got a job harvesting, in the wheat industry in nearby Totara.

Late 1950s- early 1960s interpretation of Sergeant Dan from a Happy Families card game set issued by Four Square.  


Quickly progressing to working in the company’s Kakanui Mill (another source says it was Maheno Valley flourmill, now a well-known heritage building standing as Clark’s Mill ), he had the foresight of great opportunity and had subsequently roped his brother in before the year was out to learn the milling trade with plans for great future success.
His vision was true – within three years he had been promoted to manager. In 1875 he left to manage another mill owned by a certain John Murdoch situated in Invercargill, and no more than a year later he found himself – with his new partners, the freshly formed Fleming Gray and Company – the owner of it. Not long passed before not only were they bringing some serious competition to the local industry – but they were also buying up smaller mills for their market share.

Advert from a Self Help Co-op cookbook 1939, showcasing the range of Fleming & Co products of that time.


By 1879 they had purchased their first major mill which was to become the original landmark of the brand. Now known as the “Former Fleming & Co Flour Mill“- it is situated on the corner of Conon and Tyne Streets. His brother in law (Peter Lindsay Gilkison, 1846-1924)  joined him in 1882 to form Fleming & Gilkinson. When the mostly wooden structure burned down in 1889 it was rebuilt as a four story brick building with improved technology, such as its own electrical generator to run the more efficient new machinery – while their other major mills in Gore, Winton and Mataura kept up the production load until things were back in order. This building still stands today:


Fleming & Co Creamoata Oat Mill in Gore, the Fletcher Trust Archive, 9204P-94.


Like the story of many phenomenal industry successes, the entrepreneurial Fleming had a keen interest in innovative technology and marketing – and took many lengthy trips abroad to investigate these aspects. With the completely modernised plant the company was now producing the whitest, finest flour on the market – not mention the most. The combined wood of the building, the heat of the machinery and production as well as the flour dust were a combustible recipe for disaster but out of the flames was borne the cement of Fleming’s empire.
By this time, having wiped out all competition – they were the only operating flour mill in the area, having eventually bought out all the others, and shut down many of the smaller ones; and oat production was relegated to Gore where it remained hereon for well over the next century.
In 1902 Fleming bought out Gilkinson who went on to establish Southland Frozen Meat Company – and became Fleming and Company Limited. , consisting of himself, his son-in-law John Rennie, who in his own right was a serious player in the industry as manager of the local branch of the New Zealand Flour Millers’ Association; and also William Fleming, (1881-1927), one of his sons.

Fleming’s advertisement for the Thistle brand oat products, September 1936.


In 1912 Fleming retired and sold his shares in the firm to his sons Andrew, William (and possibly another son Herbert) Fleming as well as partner and relative Rennie. Because the brand was by now a household name subsequent owners over time wisely kept the Fleming name.
However it’s the later, much-photographed lemon-coloured Creamoata Mill that gained iconic status with its mascot emblazoned on the side for all to see. Although the earliest parts of the Gore oat-focussed mill had their foundations in 1893, Fleming extensively rebuilt the newer building emblazoned with the Sergeant Dan character in 1919, probably in relation to their hugely successful new invention Creamoata being released the year previously, and the structure, now known as the “Creamoata Mill Complex”, still stands today with a Category I heritage listing.


Fleming promotion included secreting illustrated, collectible recipe cards in the boxes of Milk Oaties and Sweet Heart O’ Wheat, 1933


Creamoata was of course the most famous and successful of all their products, and seems to make its first appearance 1909 – it was a finely ground rolled oats product which produced a creamier variety of porridge – an instant hit for the morning meal. It was supposedly considered the “national breakfast” as claimed on their packaging for decades (debatable – many may say that title is owned by Weet-Bix which was around in Aotearoa almost as long) however over the years Fleming produced and marketed many brands including self-named Fleming wholemeal and white flours, Thistle brand rolled Oats and Oatmeal, Breakfast foods and cereals such as Cream O’ Groats, Milk Oaties, Oatie-Nuts and Sweet Heart O’ Wheat (a semolina product also popular for desserts), and the Snowball brand wheatmeal and white flours. Doctor’s Cream O’ Groats was another that was likely a short-lived product of the 1940s.

Creamoata advertisement, Evening Post, March 1933


The origin of Sergeant Dan is apparently well documented. By the early 1900s New Zealand writer Charlotte Lilian Lawlor was working in advertising copy and design. It wasn’t until around 1913 when she moved to Auckland to work for agency Chandler & Co, that she was eventually in a position to be handed the Fleming & Co Creamoata account – and seemingly in the very early 1920s came up with the idea of the little character to bolster sales of the product. However  as early as 1915 he appears in a newspaper advertisement with one of his signature chirpy poems, so from then on the boy soldier with a big appetite for porridge became the mascot, and was plastered on various merchandise from board games to bowls – of which there is a series of him participating in different types of sports – now highly collectable and the rarer ones going for quite high prices amongst collectors:
“Breakfast tables throughout the nation were presided over by Sergeant Dan, the Creamoata Man. With his digger’s hat, he was the picture of what a plate of porridge could do for a kid. And when you got to the bottom, if you had one of the special plates, there was Dan himself, grinning all over.”

Front of a Creamoata box circa 1950s with the more human version of Sergeant Dan as a boy scout.


According to the Historic Places Trust, Sergeant Dan is “as well-known an image in popular culture as Buzzy Bee or an Edmonds Baking Powder tin”. I don’t know if that is true. I don’t recall him at all to be honest – and he may possibly be up there in Kiwiana Icons for Baby Boomers but I doubt that generally he would rank into the top ten amongst thongs, pavlovas, fern leaves and the odd brand name food items that would make it in like Tip-Top, for example. However Creamoata per se was well enough known that it was issued as an eighty cent stamp by NZ Post within their “Millenium Series” under a sub-category of six “Food Nostalgia” designs.

The Creamoata  Mill Complex today is owned by a new company making stockfoods under the Sergeant Dan mascot.


The last Fleming family members disposed of their interests in the company in 1953 and the business was sold to Northern Roller Mills (NRM) which later became part of Champion, another older mill company going back to at least the 1890s which had become a subsidiary of Wattie’s.

An early version of Sergeant Dan, probably in the 1920s not long after Charlotte Lilian Lawlor created him. 


I certainly remember Fleming products in the kitchen cupboards at home into at least the late 1970s for morning porridge; in particular packets of Thistle rolled oats – with a Highlander emblazoned on it – I think it was a blue, green, pink and white print on clear cellophane wrapper.

An Australian version of Creamoata signage. Apparently this one in Carlton, Melbourne was painted owner by the new owners of the building not long after this photo was taken.


Production was shifted overseas under the Uncle Toby’s brand when Goodman Fielder stepped into the picture and took over from Nestlé in 2006 – up until this time the products had continued to be manufactured domestically in Gore. In late 2008 they confirmed that Creamoata was going to be off the shelves by early 2009 when stock ran down.

Fleming’s “Stirring Times” recipe booklet, 1927. Alexander Turnbull Library collection, B-K 879.


The only remnants of the Fleming brand remaining today, besides the mill buildings, is a line of health snack bars under the name which have been marketed since the 1980s – and at this time under the auspices of the Bluebird company.

The tennis version of another well-known Creamoata promotional  campaign – there were several Sergeant Dan sports activity plates to collect.


”“Now he is a full grown man, But there’s still a Sergeant Dan!
Just like Dan in years gone by – Quick of wit, alert and spry!
“I advise,” he loves to say, “Some Cweamoata every day!

 Creamoata  advertisement, probably circa early 1960s, shows Sergeant Dan has disappeared. Ref Eph-C-THORP-03, Alexander Turnbull Library collection.


I’m not sure what era this jingle was from – but the indication of “growing up” probably interprets the period when Sergeant Dan morphed into a more adult, realistic boy scout in the fifties and, then slipped off the packages for good probably sometime by the mid 1960s to be relegated to history. Not entirely though – Sergeant Dan’s Stockfoods Ltd now occupies the later factory and make horse and calf food under the branding of the character.

Creamoata eighty cent stamp by NZ Post within their “Millenium Series ” under a sub-category of six “Food Nostalgia” designs, issued in 1999.


Flower Power

In Chocolate, Easter, Nestlé on April 25, 2011 at 10.46

This Nestlé Easter egg was up for auction on Trade Me last year. It is 73 years old!

The seller, who was managing the auction on behalf of someone else, claimed that it had belonged to the owner’s mother, who, as a child was taken with the flowers on the wrapper of the confectionery, and just could not bring herself to consume it, putting it back in the box, and away in a cupboard in 1938 and there it stayed. After she passed away one of the children found it and kept it too, until last year. She certainly had more will power than I can scrape up.

I am fascinated with things that have somehow retained their original food product – and remained in their complete packaging and appearance as they were when originally manufactured. It’s like a time capsule. I have some full jelly and custard boxes, and also occasionally vintage boxes of dummy chocolates used for window displays come up for auction, mostly in the U.S. Not so long ago there was an entire salesman’s sample tray for Brach’s candy with every treat still wrapped and intact;  jubes, nougats, everything – from the early 1970’s!

I even had a dream about this egg, in which I was transported back in time to a 4 Square store in the 1940s during the lead up to Easter, and there it was – sitting on a shelf! I really wanted to buy this item,  but I just knew that there was no way it would ever make it to me in one piece so I let it go. Finally after a couple of months of continuous relisting, someone bought it. I still regret it, it would have been a real conversation piece to say the least!

Later in the year I will do a further post on the Nestlé brand and New Zealand confectionary products from our childhood.  Anyway, happy Easter to all my readers!