longwhitekid

Archive for the ‘Self Help Stores’ Category

Noel Recollection

In Aulsebrook's, Aulsebrook's biscuits, Aulsebrook's confectionery, Crippled Children Society, Edmonds, Farmer's, Farmer's Trading Co., Farmers' Santa, George Frederick Hose Taylor cartoonist, Hazelwoods stores, Hellaby's, Marriotts stores, P.S.S.A, Peach smallgoods, Rex chocolates, Self Help Stores, Sparrow industrial Pictures, Terribly un-P.C., Tiger Tea, Woolworth's stores, Woolworths on December 25, 2014 at 10.46

 

Edmonds wish you all a happy Xmas 1949  NZ from Peter Alsop book sampler

T.J. Edmonds advert for their 70th anniversary, showing different lines under the brand at that time.

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I’m now truly in the habit of filing any Christmas-related items I run across in my travels for these annual Yuletide posts. This seems in keeping with my noticing an increased efficiency in my personal habits, as opposed to leaving things to the last minute, something I’ve always been known for! No more of that “I work best under pressure” nonsense. Nobody is buying it any more, least of all me! I think it has been something to do with going back to tertiary education meaning I have to be much more organised to make sure everything happens in a timely manner.

This is the fifth Xmas post I’ve done over time…I think, don’t hold me to having done it religiously every year. The 1st of December marks the anniversary of the day this blog was tentatively started in 2010 – with in retrospect – some seemingly awkward, and quite noncommittal posts. Speaking of commitment, at least I was more dedicated to it back then.

By the time 2015 is here I would have only hit the publish button a measly fifteen times for this year. Pretty slack, huh? As time goes on it seems harder and harder to find the space to publish stories between studying and other projects. In my defence this is perhaps because often the stories are far more involved, with complex preparation which can include multiple recreations from scratch of packaging graphics.

Rather than talk about the Longwhitekid year now – I will discuss which posts were the most read, and all things interesting, annoying, and otherwise – when I again rank the annual top-rated images as voted by readers. I will make sure to publish the fifty most popular pictures for the new year. This previously turned out to be a very appealing post and got a great response from readers with lots of discussion and reminiscing.

Also coming up in the near future are posts on Elbe’s ice cream, Heard’s confectionery, known as “the home of good candy” to many, and I’ll also be branching out into some 3-D ideas for 2015. Wait…what? You’ll just have to use your imagination on how I am going to undertake the latter. I’m not anywhere near bored with Longwhitekid yet – but it’s definitely time to start changing things up around here with some different and innovative ways of presenting research and history, as well as some crazy ideas!

Square coloured glass plate theatre advertising slide for Aulsebrook’s Xmas Pudding Regent Theatre Tauranga art by Lindsay Russell

A glass cinema advertising slide, designed by Lindsay Russell, from Tauranga’s Regent Theatre, likely dates from the 1930s.

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3 1901 Auckland Weekly News Christmas Number reprinted c 1967 edit copy

This 1901 Christmas issue of the Auckland Weekly News originally sold for a shilling and was reprinted as a novelty in 1967. Image courtesy of the Auckland Museum Collection.

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Chromolithograph published by A R Hornblow & Son Wellington c1920 Turnbull Library ref Eph-D-CHRISTMAS-1920-01

 Chromolithograph poster or banner,  published by A. R. Hornblow & Son of Wellington, circa 1920. Image courtesy of the Manuscript and Pictorial Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library, ref Eph-D-CHRISTMAS-1920-01.

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AULSEBROOK XMAS  PUDDINGS Evening Post  28 November 1923 Page 14 copy

Aulsebrook’s Xmas products, Evening Post, November 1923. Image courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand.

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George F H Taylor's Christmas Annual edit copyv 1

George Frederick Hose Taylor (1927-2008) was a New Zealand cartoonist who specialized in science fiction titles and annuals, as well as sign writing and display work. Some of his better known serials were “Little Hongi – Adventures in Maoriland”, “Dick Astro of Space Patrol” and “Thrilling Adventures.”  Image courtesy of Matt Emery collection. You can see more of George Taylor’s work at Pikitia Press.

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WOOLWORTHS swastika charm- xmas cake decorating - Evening Post  17 November 1938 Page 7 EDIT copy

Woolworths Christmas advert, including Swastika charms for puddings. Prior to WWII the Swastika was common iconography for these trinkets – indicating future good fortune. This ad would have been just before they came to represent the exact opposite under Hitler’s Nazi regime and disappeared from use forever. Evening Post,  November 1938. Image courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand.

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Hazelwood department store xmas thrift account Upper Hutt Leader 22 November 1956 edit copy

Hazelwoods department store coupon, Upper Hutt Leader,  November 1956. Image courtesy of Upper Hutt City Library archives.

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NZ Illustrated Xmas issue 1930 published by the Christchurch Press Company image Peter Alsop copy

Cover of The New Zealand Illustrated magazine, image courtesy of Peter Alsop collection. 

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SELF HELP CO-OP XMAS  Evening Post  18 December 1935 Page 6 edit copy

Christmas advert for the Self-Help chain of stores, Evening Post, December 1935. Image courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand.

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NZ Xmas Cinderella 1950s  and Crippled children cinderellas  ebay EDIT

Christmas time issue of  a Cinderella stamp to raise money for Tuberculosis organisations under the auspices of the Crippled  Children Society, 1950s.

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E. Ellingham & Co.'s Christmas float Sparrow industrial Pictures  Auckland War Memorial Museum Pictorial Collection PH-NEG-SP-2-2235ai copy

Why Santa is riding a gigantic mustard-squirting, holly-decorated frankfurter will probably never be known – and we can only guess. A E. Ellingham & Co.’s Christmas float, by Sparrow industrial Pictures. Image courtesy of the  Auckland War Memorial Museum Pictorial Collection, ref PH-NEG-SP-2-2235ai.

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PSSA Xmas 1952 1d green Xmas labelcinderella stamp completestampconz copy

A  Christmas issue Cinderella stamp to raise money for the Otago P.S.S.A in 1952; this organisation provided  homes for orphaned or neglected children.

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1950's Tiger Tea Xmas Club Card 1 edit

Christmas Club card for Tiger Tea, a very popular South Island brand which has been around since the 1890s – and is still available today in a couple of selected stores.

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Farmers at Xmas  Lisa Truttman colelction

A postcard of Farmers’ department store, Hobson Street, at Xmas time with the classic (no longer) winking and beckoning Santa – who is now ensconced on  the Queen Street Whitcoulls store. The photo looks to have been taken in the 1960s.  Image courtesy of Lisa Truttman collection. 

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Peter Levarre-Waters ‎When Santa was real Farmers Auckland 1957 copy

 ‎”When Santa was real.”  Farmers’ Store, Auckland 1957. Image courtesy of Peter Levarre-Waters collection. 

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PEACH HAMS XMAS PUDDINGS ETC MARRIOTTS STORES - Auckland Star 1 December 1932 Page 15 copy

From an advert for the Marriotts chain of grocery stores; they were present from at least the 1920s to the 1940s and had a chain of fifteen premises by the year this ad ran in the Auckland Star, December 1932. Image courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand.

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

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Power Outlet: The Force of Four Square and Foodstuffs NZ Ltd

In "K" Brand, 4 Triangle, AG Stores, Arrow Butter, Auckland Master Grocers' Association, Baker's Review, Budget brand, Central Provision Stores, Checkout Four Square board game, Cheeky Charlie, Ches and Dale, CPS Stores, Dick Frizzell, Dormer-Beck, Farmer's, Farmer's Co-op, Farmer's Trading Co., Fletcher's Stores, Food Fair, Foodstuffs (NZ) Ltd, Four Square, Four Square Stores (Australia) Pty Ltd, Four Square Supermarkets, Four Triangle, Green and Colebrook stores, Grocers' Review, Icon Products, John Heaton Barker, Kirkpatrick, Laidlaw Leeds mail order company, Ltd, McKenzies stores, Mr. Four Square, National Cash Register Co, New World Supermarkets, New Zealand Grocer's and Baker's Review, New Zealand Grocergram, New Zealand Master Baker's associatio, NZ Master Grocer's Association, NZ Master Grocer's Federation, Pak 'N' Save supermarkets, Pam's Products, Rawakelle tea, S Kirkpatrick and Co Ltd, Self Help Stores, Sir Harry Heaton Barker, Te Aroha Dairy Company, The Farmers Union Trading Company, Triangle brand, Uncategorized, United Buyers, Wattie's, Weston-Frizzell, Woolworth's Food Fair, Woolworth's stores, Woolworth's supermarkets on August 7, 2012 at 10.46

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A recreation I’ve made of a rare Australian contest poster of the 1950s.

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The Four Square brand originally emerged from a grocers’ co-op, which was established based on the concern that competition from grocery chain stores in the New Zealand market place was making business very difficult for small, independent store operators. How much truth there is to this claim is dubious since at that period of time in the early 1920s, the only specific food chain that comes to mind that would have provided any serious competition was Self Help, also a co-operative, which I covered previously in a fairly brief and superficial article of May this year here.

J. T. Hammond’s Mangatoki Four Square with sign writing done by Jack Wood, probably 1930s. Courtesy of the Puke Ariki collection.

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Between just 1922 and 1923, during the initial formation by the Auckland Master Grocers’ Association of what was soon to become Foodstuffs (NZ) Ltd, Self Help had gone from just one store to a string of seven which must have been a frightening concept for anyone in the field looking to the near future and their prospects within.

Logos through the decades, clockwise from left: mid-late 1920s, 1932, late 1950s-early 1960s, mid 1930s-early 1940s, unknown – probably late 1940s , and 1980. From the mid 1950s the logo has remained almost the same in colour and design. a

Although a small company named Fletcher’s can probably lay claim to being the very first “self-service” style enterprise in the history of New Zealand, it had probably fizzled out by the early twenties. However in 1919 Laidlaw Leeds, a very successful mail order company had acquired the Green and Colebrook chain to become Farmer’s Co-op and they opened their twenty-ninth store in 1921. Although a general department store, Farmer’s were marketing at least flour, tea and spices that I am aware of, but hardly specific competition, however – that may have been all it took.

Colouring book produced as a competition promotion in 1954. a

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Since at the time the Self Help concept was a huge revelation in grocery shopping and pricing I can only conject that Foodstuffs (NZ) Ltd was formed in direct response to Self Help’s extremely sudden success within that narrow timeframe – having pushed the situation to the edge. This allegedly pertinent issue was raised by a man named John Heaton Barker – to Auckland’s main grocers’ association, in early July of 1922. The co-op became official when it formed a company – which was registered on 1st of April, 1925. It’s first contract was with Te Aroha Dairy Company to carry their “Arrow” brand butter. Co-operatives were also formed in Wellington (named United Buyers, the same year, 1922, which became the “4 Triangle” chain) and in Christchurch (1928, which was named the “AG Stores”) . By 1935 all these co-ops had already come under the Four Square brand but were now officially renamed branches of Foodstuffs Ltd.

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Advertisement showing the white pepper and cornflour from their self line, Evening Post, March 1934 a

Seemingly well documented, the Foodstuffs legend goes that on the 4th of July 1924, two years into the co-op being formed, Barker, in position of company secretary at this time – was doodling on a pad during a telephone conversation with his colleagues and drew a square around the date. He presented this concept with the buoying manifesto that the group would stand ‘four square to all the winds that blew”.

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Above: Four Square white pepper tin from my own collection. This design was in use during 1934-1935. Below, I’ve recreated the label.

It wasn’t long before the first logos for the brand were bumped into all the stores in the form of hand-painted glass signs, with products appearing under the moniker by the end of that year. A primitive version of the formal logos we know today were going up on stores by 1929, with 4 Triangle, and AG Stores becoming part of Four Square not long after in December 1933 – as well as another co-op which had been formed in Southland (but much later down the track, in 1948) . The distinctive colours, however, were not adopted until 1931 when on a field trip to view a particular store belonging to a Mr. McInnes, the initial tangerine and yellow scheme (with green added to it in the form of the logo) was requisitioned.

Promotional puzzle showing many of Four Square’s line of products circa late 1940s. Image courtesy of the Alexander Turnbull Manuscripts and Pictorial collection. a

By the time the early thirties co-op merger had taken place (of which the date both Fairfax’s Business Hall of Fame profile as well as Foodstuff’s own history quote incorrectly), Four Square now boasted a total of 266 stores nationwide – what can only be described as an explosive success and had far outstripped even the phenomenal growth success of Self Help – and not even bothering to mention any other competition like McKenzies, Woolworths and Farmer’s which were semi- players at best in the burgeoning grocery market at the time. In 1935 the stores bearing Four Square signage were at 285. By the post war years food groceries bearing the Four Square name had shot up to nearly 400 and climbing quickly – 700 by 1950. By 1956 there were an amazing 1000 stores nationwide.

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Promotional game produced in Australia, probably the mid 1960s. a

By some time in the 1950s Foodstuffs (NZ) Ltd had decided to hop the ditch to invade our Australian cousins, as my poster recreation at the head of this post, as well as the  board game on road safety I have found above, attest. By 1980 a Happy Family promotion shows the logo for Australian chain CPS (Central Provision Stores), alongside Four Square and New World’s logos – having been added to the empire via Four Square Stores (Australia) Pty Ltd.

J. Heaton Barker’s new offices bringing everything together under one roof – Auckland Star, 8 October, 1925. a

Barker was one of two children of a family from Derby, Britain. Perhaps his father – mention is made of a John William Barker – stayed behind when he immigrated with his mother and sister in 1886; arriving in Wellington on 6th August aboard the S.S. Ionic. Perhaps he died, and they decided to leave. Whatever the story was, his mother was free to marry a Reverend John Crump seven years later. A devout Christian, J. H. Barker was seriously involved in the Baptist church throughout his life, particularly in Mount Eden, Auckland where he was an elder, and at various times a chair, treasurer, as well as president of the City Baptist Auxiliary.

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Promotional Snap set featuring many popular products sold through Four Square stores; circa late 1950s-early 1960s. a

That was much later on in his life though; originally he settled in Nelson (where he was the facilitator of the PSA or “Pleasant Sunday Afternoon’ movement which had begun in Britain, was active in the Mutual Improvement Society, and on occasion stood in for his local pastor at the pulpit, was a member of council for the NZ Accountant’s and Auditor’s Association, secretary of the Chamber of Commerce, and secretary of the Foreign and British Bible Society).

Promotional Snap set featuring many popular products sold through Four Square stores; circa late 1950s-early 1960s. a

More specifically he had spent time in Richmond to the south-west of the town where he was at one time or another secretary of the Richmond Lawn Tennis Club and also the Workingmen’s Club (I think at this point we can already establish that he was quite the busybody do-gooder). In 1896 he sold up and moved to a more central location in Bronte Street, Nelson.

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In-store Disney promotion – Hutt News, December 1934. a

In an article entitled “Farewell to Mr. and Mrs. Barker” in the Nelson Evening Mail of 14th March, 1901, an interesting mention is made – of Barker’s “severing his connection with S. Kirkpatrick and Co., Ltd” in order to move. This was a popular foodstuffs company primarily famous for their jam, in particular the “K” brand, but ranged across a wide array of products from jelly crystals, canned meat and spices to coffee, poultry tonic, vinegar, honey and baking powder.

Triangle brand products – Evening Post, December 1933 . a

This is a very interesting detail to discover because Kirkpatrick play an intrinsic part in the corporate history of the canned food industry in New Zealand – passing through a number of owners and lasting into 1971 when it was finally dismantled by Wattie’s upon their acquisition of the brand and Nelson factory. In what capacity he worked for the firm is unknown (presumably accounting); but whatever it was he had achieved in just a few short years it was important enough for Mr. Kirkpatrick , the CEO himself, to attend in person and present Barker with a gold Albert fob chain for his services.

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An unusual Four Square promotional chair which was auctioned recently. Photos © and courtesy of Trademe menber cache10 (Phil). a

He moved with his wife Mattie and eight offspring to Wellington in 1902 (where he was president of the city’s Sunday School Union, president of the Sunday School Teacher’s Association, vice-president of the YMCA Cricket Club, vice-president of the Gregg Shorthand Association, and prone to giving rousing public speeches on the gospel everywhere he could, it seems).

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Four Square’s self line of preserving jar skins probably date from the 1950s or early 1960s. From my personal collection. a

In 1907 we find him managing director of Messrs. Yerox, Barker and Finlay, Ltd., a company primarily moving cash registers and typewriters. In 1908 he moved to directing the interests of the National Cash Register Co in New Zealand at 17-19 Cuba Street – and in 1911 he gained inches of press when he invented an automated telegram sorting and stamping machine, which was subsequently installed in Wellington’s General Post Office. Following that the family relocated to Auckland in 1912 (where he had a spell as a director on the board of the Auckland YMCA, and led Baptist services at various church venues).

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Rare canisters issued for the Southland Four Square Co-op’s general area centennial of 1956 crop up at auction very occasionally to be bid on competitively. a

Presumably he eventually became somehow involved in the grocery industry to bring him into the relative picture; A newspaper article of 1924, in which he is called to give testimony in a case to do with milling industry price fixing, defines him as the Auckland secretary of the New Zealand Master Baker’s association, as well as the editor of their magazine “Baker’s Review” since 1920 (he remained secretary until 1930 when he stood down voluntarily).

George Allen and staff in the Dominion Road Four Square store, Auckland, late 1940s. Photo © and courtesy of the estate of George Allen. a

Clearly from the court report he was a significant player in the supply and demand of flour and other goods for some years. Quite frankly I was surprised to find a dearth of biographical information on a major player in New Zealand industry; One of his children grew up to become well-known newspaper editor and politician Sir Harry Heaton Barker – and much more is written of his long term mayor son. Certainly at this point with his various experiences in foodstuffs, accounting, sales, administration and a clear talent for creative invention – he had everything he needed to take things to a spectacular new level.

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Advertisement showing the custard powder and tea from their self line, Auckland Star, 11 April, 1935. a

Barker, as well as also being secretary, accountant and auditor of the NZ Master Grocer’s Association – ran the Auckland branch of the food co-op from its inception until 1934 when he became director of Foodstuffs (NZ) Ltd – a position he remained in until 1947 when he passed away. In 1932 he was made a life member of the New Zealand Master Grocer’s Federation, of which he had been secretary since 1923.

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Four Square brochure of 1977 showing product specials to celebrate the 21st anniversary of Four Square in Otago/Southland. Image courtesy of the Foodstuffs (NZ) Archive. a

He also launched an industry magazine, “Grocers’ Review” in the early 1920s – which later seems to have joined forces with the milling industry and amalgamated his previous work there to become “New Zealand Grocer’s and Baker’s Review“. Sources seem to indicate that this version wrapped up in 1939; what I have seen from the Foodstuffs Ltd archive (I was lucky enough to get an insider peek at their collection courtesy of a food technician friend who is part of the team, and loves retro stuff herself) show two images of a “New Zealand Grocergram” magazine so presumably that became it’s moniker. Last reference to it in public collections is in 1974 -1975 however AdMedia ran an article in 2003 that it was being revamped. Current status is unknown, with the website down – but presumably it is still running – if so making it one of the longest running periodicals in the history of the country.

Waxed cardboard pot for Four Square’s self line of honey from the Christchurch Co-op, circa mid 1970s. a

By the mid 1930s Four Square had under its own line tea, honey, culinary essences, Worcester and tomato sauces, cornflour, macaroni and vermicelli, custard powder, malt extract, butter, coffee essence, spices, salt and pepper, canned fruit, and raisins. There was also jellies, candles, soap and toilet paper under the “Triangle” brand. Later boxed chocolates, vinegar, and cordials were added (1940s) as well as mixed dried fruit, preserving equipment,  and “Rawakelle“; their brand of tea that was in the 1950s and 1960s quite popular with the public.

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Front of cardboard box for Four Square’s self line of dried cake fruit from the Foodstuffs archive collection, probably early 1960s. a

Starting with baking powder – and then a few years following custard powder – “Pam’s” was launched by Four Square Stores in 1937 to offer lower price, quality goods that competed even more vigorously with opposing chain’s lower price bracket products. Although there were several “self” lines from other stores at the time, “Pam’s”  has stood alone, lasted into the present day as a “private” brand, probably the only surviving one. I previously documented my recreation of the first Pam’s marketing campaign/product label when I wrote about agency Dormer-Beck, who were behind it, here.

Advertisement announcing merger of 4 Triangle and AG Stores under the Four Square brand, making a total of 266 stores. Evening Post, December 1933. the co-ops changed their names to Foodstuffs two years later in 1935. a

Mr. Four Square” , who has also come to be known as “Cheeky Charlie“, was a welcoming storeman figure with a big thumbs up – yet to many he always had a slightly imposing, sinister air about him (he looks like the type of guy that if you were left alone in the store room with him he might try to cop a feel). The mascot was developed sometime in the 1950s for print advertising initially – although the exact date and who the specific the creator of the character was, is unclear – one source quotes the Foodstuffs advertising department as responsible. Another states it was a son of J.H. Barker’s who came up with the concept around 1951.

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A corruption of monopoly with products instead of property, Milton Bradley-produced “Checkout” in 1959. They also did a version for the Acme chain of stores in the USA. a

He is often mistakenly attributed to renowned Kiwi pop artist Dick Frizzell who was a commercial artist in the 1960s and 1970s, but this is incorrect. Frizzell was, however, involved with the iconic Ches and Dale characters, and the fact that he has used Charlie in some of his most famous art works only adds to the confusion.

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Promotional Happy Families set featuring many popular products sold through Four Square stores, New World and CPS stores (Central Provision Stores, Australia); circa 1980. a

Another well-known contemporary artist Mike Weston, who coincidentally partners with Frizzell’s son Otis to produce humorous Kiwiana-inspired works under the moniker Weston-Frizzell, seems to recall hearing that Charlie was “allegedly a knock off of a Santa Monica supermarket character from the fifties called “Freddy Fireside” – of the Fireside Market. Although I’m still looking for evidence” . I myself was also unable to find any information to even hint at this.Today when people think of the brand they definitely think of Charlie beaming at them from shop windows and hoardings so, although a rather overused word -he has definitely become a New Zealand icon (with a few modernised features). Extremely collectable now, original Mr. Four Square cut-out signage old or newish – sells for competitive prices well into the hundreds and sometimes even the thousands.

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Interior of the Dominion Road Four Square store, Auckland, late 1940s. Photo © and courtesy of the estate of George Allen. a

Quite a few different items have been issued to promote the business over the years. Snap and Happy Family card sets were produced featuring their most popular product lines in the late 1950s-early 1960s, and another Happy Families set of 52 cards in around 1980 from which many of my age group will remember all the products – I featured some of them here, here, and here.

Four Square’s warehouse opens  in Southland, 1956.  Image courtesy of the Foodstuffs (NZ) Archive.

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Other fun items to rope in the punters and strengthen allegiance to the business were a puzzle (late 1940s), a board game with Milton Bradley – “Checkout”, around 1959. a highly desirable colouring book “Fine Things of the Future” (1954), calendars (1950s-1960s), a stamp collecting book. Recipe/household hint books such as “Homeways” was published in the late 1960s, and “Take A Tip” of the early 1970s. A cast metal can opener was issued as a complimentary gift to customers.  Very rarely the hard-to-get canisters issued for the Southland Co-op’s general area centennial of 1956 crop up at auction to be bid on feverishly; and not so long ago even a very unusual Four Square chair.

Foodstuff’s former cut-price – now “private” – brand Pam’s started in 1937 with one product; baking powder. Photo courtesy of and © Eriq Quaadgrass, eRIQ on Flickr. a

Icon Products, who partner with Four Square as well as several other brands , currently hold a license for the Cheeky Charlie character, producing aprons, shirts, tea towels and carry bags – which have been marketed through another Foodstuffs enterprise – New World supermarkets – established at the end of 1963 (the same year that Woolworths rolled out their first dedicated food store Food Fair, a New Zealand first at New Lynn).

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This classic version cut-out Cheeky Charlie signage just sold recently for around the $1000 mark or a little over. a

Although significantly less than in their heyday – today Four Square stores in New Zealand remain as 300 plus independent operators as well as a few still dotted about Australia. It is one of very few companies that has ever reversed the usual trans-Tasman power play of brands being foisted on the comparatively tiny country and marketplace of Aotearoa. Even Ozzie brands like the re-tooled IGA still can’t usurp the sheer power in numbers, well – yet, anyway.

A modern store in Waitarere using the classic Four Square colour scheme to the maximum effect; with the newest version of Cheeky Charlie, said to have been “made over” by Dick Frizzell at Foodstuff’s request recently. Photo courtesy of and © Kiwi Frenzy on Flickr. a

Foodstuffs (NZ) Ltd is still comprised of three co-ops and has grown to include a slew of chain brands in its portfolio including aforementioned New World, Pak ‘N’ Save (established 1985), Write Price, On The Spot, Shop Rite, Raeward Fresh, Liquorland and Henry’s, Budget, Pam’s, and of course Four Square (and that’s just the food and drink enterprises) making it the largest retail organisation in New Zealand to date.

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Contemporary Four Square store and staff. Photo courtesy of and © the Foodstuffs (NZ) Archive. a

You have to wonder if Barker, whilst scribbling on his calendar absent-mindedly that day, ever in his wildest dreams could have comprehended he was launching an empire worth more than four billion dollars per annum.

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Neither the classic or contemporary version of Mr. Four Square -this was the in-between version with a few new touches in the 1990s-2000s. Photo of Cheeky Charlie on left courtesy of and © emilyandadam on Flickr. Image of modern Four Square logo graphics on right courtesy of and © the Foodstuffs (NZ) Archive. a

The Four Square Contest Poster is available from my online store here , as well as greeting cards for a nominal price.

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

Self-Sourcing Pudding: Sutherland’s Success

In Custard, Desserts, Fuller Fulton Stores, Jellies, Jelly Crystals, Poplar Stores, Self Help Stores, Sutherland Trust on May 27, 2012 at 10.46

A reproduction I have created of a custard powder can label.  This was in use between 1938-1943 that I know of.

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I’m just going to keep this story of Self Help brief , so I can do a longer, detailed one later in the year with more images. I’m going to focus on the Self Help brand of custard and jelly; I have recreated the box design of their 1936 jelly crystals from a newspaper ad, and also the label from the late 1930s-early 1940s custard powder tin.

This custard container came up on Trademe as part of a larger lot a few months ago and someone else got it. They probably only wanted the variety of Edmonds tins with it, and had no interest in this one or even knew what it was – however I’ve been able to reconstruct the design from the picture. I’ve never seen another one before since.

Evening Post , March 1942 

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I do own a couple of 1930s Self Help cook books which are fairly hard to get hold of. They are quite recent purchases of mine – and as such I haven’t really gone through them yet to see what’s in there regarding ads and stuff; Apart from that examples of the early packaging are amazingly far and few between, for what was once one of New Zealand’s biggest and longest running chain food Stores – and spanning nearly half a century. Occasionally a 1949 board game called “Rugger”, which they issued for the All Blacks tour of South Africa,  pops up for auction – but they didn’t have a wide variety of promotional items to the extent of Four Square stores.

A reproduction I have created of a 1938 jelly crystal box. I have based the colours on the custard can label. The packaging was different in 1935, and had changed again in 1936. 

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Self Help was started in 1922 and by the early 1940s there were around 200 stores dotted about the country; but yet again it’s another brand that is unbelievably almost forgotten today. Apart from their own brand stores they had many more that didn’t go under the Self Help name such as Poplar Stores and Fuller-Fulton’s which I covered here mid- last year :

https://longwhitekid.wordpress.com/2011/07/25/fuller-surprises/

Self Help custard and De-Luxe fruit extract. De-Luxe was another Self Help brand of the 1930s-1940s which also included jelly crystals, culinary essences, coffee, biscuits, coffee essence, and chocolate bars. Evening Post, January 1941. 

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The business was founded by Ben Sutherland who attempted to create a food co-op for the workers at New Zealand Railways where he worked. After decades with the organisation he was near retirement and his concept was a bit of a gamble to say the least. He found there was little support for his idea and scant interest in the shares that were being offered.

Nine flavours of jelly crystals, Evening Post, January 1938. 

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Apparently in some sort of conflict with Railways management of over this issue, he ended up leaving not long after – and branched out on his own. In just over a year later he had seven stores and more on the way. The philosophy of the Self Help stores was to sell goods to the public for as little profit as possible, which sounds pretty ridiculous now in a world of corporate fat cats that only care for high margins. As a result the brand was embraced immediately, outside of his former organisation, and became hugely successful.

 Self Help store on the west side of Main Street, Upper Hutt, circa 1950. Courtesy of  Upper Hutt  City Library collection ref P2-162-274

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Eventually Self Help was one of the biggest chain stores in New Zealand, just behind Foodstuffs (NZ) Ltd’s Four Square stores. Not long after Woolworths launched their first dedicated food store at New Lynn’s Lynnmall in 1963 and were in the process of taking over the country, they purchased the Self Help chain in 1971 and quickly phased it out – replacing all the stores with their own brand.

Five flavours of Self Help  Custard , Evening Post, September 1937.

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The legacy lives on today in the Sutherland Trust which has distributed the equivalent of around sixty five million dollars to various charities. Although their endeavours quickly made the Sutherland family wealthy themselves – it’s a rare “feelgood story” of people that just wanted to help others have a better quality life. And it was successful in all respects and continues to be so. Thankfully every once in a while even today there are still people that have that idea in mind; instead of corporate profit margins- a better world for all.

Addendum mid-June 2012: I acquired two Self Help custard ads in the meantime, which I am adding here below. The colour ad dates from 1939, and clearly shows the packaging I recreated above, in use. The second one dates from 1932 and shows an older version of the can.


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Fuller Surprises

In Cuba Street Wellington, Delicatessen, Fuller Fulton Stores, Fuller Lipton Stores, Poplar Stores, Self Help Stores, Woolworths on July 25, 2011 at 10.46

From the 1920s onwards a revolutionary new way of shopping was introduced – the “self service”. Traditionally orders would be placed by you at the grocer’s counter and employees would weigh and pack for you, as you pointed to the shelves behind them to indicate what you wanted from the available stock. It was also fairly traditional to bring your own containers to refill. Throw-away packaging simply didn’t exist in the way it did later on.

It was a radical idea that took quick hold and grew phenomenally, in tandem with social and economic factors such as the end of rationing, a post-war yearning for freedom and leisure, and subsequently a market flooded with new product to fulfil demands for convenience. In the mid to late 1920s there were few chains – such as 4 Square, AG Stores, and Self-Help. It’s possible, and certainly true in the instance of Self-Help at this time, that you selected your own goods- but still took them to the counter to be packaged, in somewhat of a transitional compromise of tradition.

Fuller-Lipton’s Ltd. was situated at 101 Cuba Street, Wellington – half-way along the eastern side of Cuba Mall. By 1934 the company appears in publications heavily promoting their wares. If you look around in newspaper archives you can find plentiful adverts for their various products, which are pretty over the top; often with comical cartoons illustrating the butter, smallgoods, candy and other products.

It wasn’t long before the name has switched from Fuller-Lipton’s to Fuller-Fulton’s; I am not sure what the desire behind the name change was, but I know how it came about – it was a public competition to rename the store in 1935. It was likely a publicity gimmick to promote the business, much in the way that MGM held a competition to name a new starlet ( the winning moniker was Joan Crawford).

It also seems like Fuller-Fulton’s may have got themselves in a spot of bother over it:

Nevertheless, the name became synonymous with exotic treats – It was one of the largest delicatessens in Wellington and had a reputation amongst European migrants as being the place to go to buy all sorts of interesting foodstuffs at a time when the selection was fairly conservative and bland.
“The thing I particularly remember was the distinctive smell of all the cured hams and salamis and such-like, wafting through the door”, remembers one Wellington regular.
Says Eric Kearney: “I was transferred there in the late 1940’s and remained until 1960. It was a most interesting grocery. The influx of European immigrants searching for foods they were familiar with, together with a wonderful manager, Norm Saunders, meant the importation of many of these foods. The enterprising immigrants who made bread, cheese, and wurst etc., meant that here was an outlet (for their home-made product).” Says another who worked through the late 1970s and early 1980s: “I learned so much about other countries without leaving cuba street; it was a wonderful community ”
It certainly doesn’t make a big deal of a fanciful gourmet aspect in the ads, heavy on the butter, eggs bacon and chocolate, really quite standard fare (or seems very much so to us now) – so it’s interesting to get an insider’s perspective.

He also states that Self-Help (then Co-op, now Sutherland Trust) acquired Fuller-Fulton’s. I am sure there was a small chain of stores by the late 1930s, certainly more than one as far as I recall from ads I’ve seen. Self-Help  most likely acquired it by the end of the 1940s – they had at least 200 stores by the end of WWII themselves, so a company to be reckoned with. Yet I haven’t actually seen any evidence to back up this claim thus far; and there’s no mention of it that I’ve seen in the company history of the Self-Help organisation.


In the mid fifties Fuller-Fulton’s converted to a supermarket but still retained the service delicatessen, and then a few years later doubled it’s floor when a bank vacated the building.

Eric Kearney later mentioned to me that Self-Help purchased the store when it was Fuller Lipton’s and held the competition for the name change, so 1935.  He says:  “Self-Help owned many stores under other names. such as Poplar Stores  just up the road from us, but Fuller-Fulton’s had a reputation par excellence”.  As Self-Help were acquired by Woolworths in 1971 and phased out pretty quickly as far as I know, Self-Help obviously jettisoned Fuller-Fulton’s or part thereof at some point as Fuller-Fulton’s survived, or at least the main store did – surprisingly late in the game – with one person remembering working there as late as 1986. He says: “After the sale by National Distributors and the Self-Help Trust, the premises became a shoe store”. So it still doesn’t supply an answer. Anyway, I wonder what happened after that, between that late sixties and the late eighties? There’s a few unanswered questions, no photos as yet, and no doubt some more to this story. so until then, I’ll leave you with this retrospectively completely inappropriate poultry ad from 1934!

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