Archive for the ‘Progressive Enterprises’ 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 WATERMARKED copy

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

Note: Due to repetitive theft by those who take my intellectual property from this blog without my permission, and reproduce it as merchandise for sale on sites such as Ebay, Redbubble and Trade Me,  I have now watermarked some images. If you are interested in purchasing merch of my designs you can head to my personal Redbubble store.


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 .


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 WATERMARK copy

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

Note: Due to repetitive theft by those who take my intellectual property from this blog without my permission, and reproduce it as merchandise for sale on sites such as Ebay, Redbubble and Trade Me,  I have now watermarked some images. If you are interested in purchasing merch of my designs you can head to my personal Redbubble store.



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


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. 


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. 


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.



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



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



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


Product Puzzle: UNA and the Grocers United Stores

In Associated Wholesalers Ltd (AWL), Baking Powder, Chapman Bros, Countdown supermarkets, Dollarwise supermarkets, Family Fare convenience stores, Foodmaster convenience stores, G.U.S. Stores, G.U.S. Wholessaling, Grocer's United Stores, IGA Stores, Independent Grocers Alliance NZ Ltd, J. B. Rattray, Jellishus Jelly Crystals, Magnum Corporation, Pricecutter supermarkets, Progressive Enterprises, Rattray & Sons Ltd teas, Rothman Industries (NZ), Super 7 supermarkets, Super Value Supermarket Group, Super Value supermarkets, Target Stores, UNA brand, Uncategorized, Woolworth's supermarkets, Woolworths on August 30, 2012 at 10.46

With a little help from fellow foodstuffs freak Mike Davidson, who recently uncovered a rare cookbook brochure and asked me what I knew about it, I have been able to find out a bit more about the South Island enterprise “G U.S.” , the Grocer’s United Stores – which were quite a large chain of stores in New Zealand in the late 1920s to the 1950s (that I am aware of) – and subsequently link it to my story recently on IGA, which almost asked more questions than it gave answers:


Top: recreation of a UNA brand baking powder label from a photo of an old can, above. The tin likely dates from the late 1930s- early 1940s.

The only item that I had ever seen thus far at auction was a baking powder tin for the “UNA” label, which cropped up last year in a lot of old household tins, and was G.U.S. Wholesaling’s self brand. I have recreated it here.

Grocers United Stores recipe book, image courtesy of Mike Davidson collection.

I have records in my database that in the 1930s – jelly crystals, tea, coffee, canned fruits, vinegar ,cocoa, cornflour and fly bands (which I think are some kind of fishing weights), medicines (non-specific, and possibly referring to a line including) cod liver oil, were being produced under the UNA label.

Intelligent and painstaking: Ellesmere Guardian, July 1940.

By the early 1940s the UNA range also comprised of custard powder, baking powder, cooking oil, jam including home-made orange marmalade, lemon marmalade and lemon honey, olive oil, chocolate cake filling, coffee essence, soap, fly reels, salt, honey, floor polish, canned peas, “Six-In-One” skin lotion, tomato sauce, lino polish, Spanish cream, instant chocolate custard, and an exotic sounding instant dessert named “Sno Foam”. Cornflour , jelly crystals, honey, and biscuits of several varieties, were simultaneously marketed under the G U.S. brand in the 1940s. “Jellishus” was another brand of jelly crystals produced by the company at that time.

IGA truck being loaded and secured for delivery, showing G.U.S. Wholesaling details on it. Probably early 1960s. Christchurch City Library collection, ref HW10-Ho-137

G.U.S. was launched in 1928 as a co-op (given that every store remained privately owned and the proprietor intensely vetted before being signed up) by E.F. and S. J. Chapman; and very quickly they had built up 15 stores. By 1948 that had multiplied to a very impressive 167 stores. Still, way behind the Self Help chain and – especially Four Square, which I covered in this article here


It is true they had been left in the dust by both of those other co-ops come the late 1940s, yet somehow G.U.S. was very able to compete and build their organisation against those two industry giants over the decades – in particular Foodstuffs (Christchurch) Ltd which was successful enough during this period to finally bite the bullet and open a massive Southland warehouse in 1956. So although G.U.S. Stores are truly forgotten now, it’s quite likely that they were in actual fact the third largest chain of grocery co-op stores in New Zealand in the first two thirds of the twentieth century.

G.U.S. store on corner of Welles and Manchester streets, Christchurch city. This looks like it was taken in the 1930s, and the supermarket remained until the 1960s when it moved to Chappie Place, Hornby. Christchurch City Library collection, ref HW10-Ho-135

To bolster their success in the 1930s, the Chapman brothers also launched a chain of stores named “Target” (no relation to the international department store chain of today), again a co-op made up of individual private owners, with the slogan “where the housewife scores!” Although not grocery orientated per se, this was dependant on the nature of the individual business – but they were more akin to the modus operandi of Woolworths, MacDuffs and McKenzies during that period – with a focus on household items as well as decorative gewgaws. Again had their own self line including butter. I had seen a picture in one of Richard Wolfe’s books and always wondered about this mysterious chain over the years; now I have stumbled over the link via the UNA tea advert I have posted here, I know.

1934 Grocers United company Picnic, Amberley Park. The use of the IGA letterhead indicates that the Hawkins shops were once upon a time G.U.S. stores. Christchurch City Library collection, ref HW10-Ho-134

Somehow I missed a bunch of material whilst researching my IGA story a short while back which would have told me, as it turns out, that IGA (Independent Grocers Alliance NZ Ltd) was launched in New Zealand under the umbrella of G.U.S. Wholesaling, so I imagine that although there were probably a lot of new shops created, most of the stores that were part of Grocers United Stores may also have been re-branded to IGA.

The trend of the day may have been IGA, but this delivery truck still has G.U.S. details on the cab; probably late 1950s. Christchurch City Library collection, ref HW10-Ho-136

Eventually, as the decades passed, all the stores under the G.U.S. banner were split across a few chain brands: SuperValue (around as far back as the late 1960s that I know of), Dollarwise, Pricecutter, IGA and Super 7  convenience stores (all still have branches open as far as I can see), while G.U.S. Wholesaling became known as the “Super Value Supermarket Group“.

This map shows locations of Grocers United Stores in 1948. image courtesy of Mike Davidson collection.

The J.B. Rattray Group , who got their start in teas – particularly three very successful brands: Tiger (1890s-1980s), Gold Leaf (1890s-1930s), and Edglets (post 1940s), and established the very successful Countdown supernmarkets in 1981 – purchased the Super Value group in 1991.

Some of the UNA brand line, advertised in the Ellesmere Guardian, September 1943.

In Alistair Pringle’s “New Worlds and Fresh Choices?” he writes : “Through its subsidiary J.B. Rattray, Magnum (Enterprises) first purchased the former Woolworths-owned, Auckland-based Associated Wholesalers Ltd (AWL)…(acquiring) seven North Island warehouses and 130 independently owned Foodmaster and Family Fare convenience stores”. This apparently occurred in 1992. Since the Super Value Supermarket Group merged with Woolworths in 1979, according to another source, presumably this was included in the deal along with the five brands I mentioned above.

A Chapman Bros’s Target Store, probably snapped in the mid 1930s. Image courtesy of Richard Wolfe and Stephen Barnett’s book “New Zealand: In Praise of Kiwiana”, 1989.

Magnum Corporation were the owners of  Rothman Industries (NZ) at the time and acquired Rattray in the mid 1980s as a subsidiary part of Rothman. They went on to gobble up Progressive Enterprises also (which included Foodtown, Three Guys, and Georgie Pie).

Advert for Target Stores from the Ellesmere Guardian, March 1934.

Yeah, and then there were some more mergers, acquisitions and takeovers which I could go on about, but I am going to call it a day. It’s so convoluted it’s like a set of Babushka Dolls with enterprises that fit one inside the other, inside another one – until it becomes completely confusing to the layman.

Advert for UNA brand tea for the Ellesmere Guardian, November 1933, shows reference to both G.U.S. “United” stores as well as “Target”.

My conjecture is that – while the actual company retained the G.U.S. name, the brand had disappeared by the late 1950s, subsumed by the glitzier American offering of IGA. which in the post-war years held fresh appeal for consumers obsessed with Yankee-style convenience – over fusty personal service all wrapped up in a plain brown paper wrapper, and trussed up in string.

Research Sucks: Woolworths and the Advent of American Style

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


Advertisement for Wellington Woolworths Stores, 1934.

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



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

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

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

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

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

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



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



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

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

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

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

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

No, really, I am done now!



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

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


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


Pie In The Sky

In Fast Food, Foodtown Supermarkets, Georgie Pie, McDonalds, Progressive Enterprises, Tom Ah Chee on February 3, 2011 at 10.46

Georgie Pie was a fast food chain owned by supermarket operator Progressive Enterprises, that hoped to be “New Zealand’s own home-grown alternative to the global fast-food giants”. It didn’t seem quite like McDonalds, and it definitely wasn’t your local bakery. Like the ad, the brand always seemed a bit “mock”. The commercial kind of gives me the creeps, which isn’t helped by the mournful reminisce of the faux Carpenters track, which always undoubtedly makes the mind’s next pitstop depression, pill-popping and Anorexia…not conducive to tasty pie promotion in my mind.

The first restaurant was opened in Kelston, Auckland in 1977 (this was the one local to where I lived as a child). In its short lifetime of just over twenty years, Georgie Pie achieved a number of firsts in New Zealand – first “Drive Thru”, first Breakfast, first 24 hour opening – and undoubtedly the first local brand to seriously challenge international fast food chains.
The overhead costs could only be offset by increasing production via the opening of more outlets and by increasing supply in various ways. The decision by a short term CEO not to continue with expansion spelled demise of the brand. This decision was based on his view that pies were unhealthy and demand would diminish. The brand was sold off to McDonalds, and by 1998 the last store had closed. RIP, Georgie Pie.

A Facebook campaign calling for the return of Georgie Pie gained 35,000 members. On September 28, 2008, the proponents hired a Christchurch bakery and temporarily converted it into a GP restaurant selling original recipe pies. It was extremely popular and sold out in an hour. This was done for a documentary that the students are making titled “Bring Back The George”. Predictably, McDonald’s threw around a few lawsuit threats over copyright infringement during the revival of interest and then announced they were looking into relaunching the brand. In a typical case of “If I can’t have it then no-one will”, this hasn’t happened of course – and the brand languishes, unjustly relegated to history although the market clamours.