Archive for the ‘Supermarket Anthropology’ Category

Can Do

In Canned Goods, Grocery Archaeology, Supermarket Anthropology, Wattie's on November 20, 2011 at 10.46

Again, this is part of a collection that was amassed by a marketing manager who worked at the Wattie’s company for a long period – more specifically the late 1950s  through to the mid-1970s and collected samples of many of the wares he handled during that period; a wonderful archive of product and design from one of New Zealand’s most iconic and enduring brands. We can conject that, since there were Thompson & Hills’s  “Oak”  brand and S. Kirkpatrick & Co.’s “K” brand being sold at auction simultaneously, that he was employed at least for a time at the Nelson Kirkpatrick factory which was purchased by Wattie’s – and who by that time also had Oak and were manufacturing that brand from the premises as well. The factory was demolished in the 1970s (some time after 1971; one of my Oak labels is dated 1971 on the back also) and one can presume he moved on or retired.

I am putting the story together slowly, as I uncover more dates and facts that fit. I’ve previously covered this story hereherehere  and here

I am conjecting that it dates from the mid 1960s due to the version of the logo used; and photos I have seen of store interiors with cans from the same set. I created it from a low res photo (above) on Trademe.

I am surprised that after chipping away at this project for a year I have four labels left to do  in the current bunch I planned to remake; diced fruit salad, tomatoes, prunes, and tomato sauce (there are heaps I haven’t posted yet). It seems to take forever to create the graphics, I think this one took 7-8 hours to achieve. worth it in the end as I now have quite a collection of long lost labels. What to do with them when I’m done? I was thinking of getting them printed and glueing them on to cans for a fun display.


Saucing Material

In Canned Goods, Canned vegetables, Culinary Anthropology, Grocery Archaeology, Kiwi Classics, Supermarket Anthropology, Wattie's on June 26, 2011 at 10.46

Here’s some recreations I’ve been working my way through lately.
The two Wattie’s labels probably date from the early to mid 1960s and were part of the group that came from the ex marketing manager’s collection mentioned in a previous post.


James Wattie and Harold Carr formed J. Wattie Canneries Ltd in 1934 and in 1935 started supplying pulped fruit for jam, and quickly turned canning of fruit.


It wasn’t until 1936 they moved into vegetables so we can conject this Frimley label dates from the second half of that decade when they have clearly acquired the Frimley plant which must have been close by – it was also based in Hastings. I am going to place it between 1936-1939.

Frimley goes back to the early 1900s producing a generous variety of canned vegetables, jams, pie fruits, dessert fruits, Baked Beans, and tomato ketchup; through the 1910s – when they added jelly crystals and fruit squashes to their range as well. By the WWII years spaghetti and packet tomato sauce was included in the range. In 1913 Frimley was purchased S. Kirkpatrick & Co. (Kirkpatrick and “K” brands) which was in turn became part of Wattie’s.  The brand appears it had been killed off by the end of the war, probably a victim of rationing which led to focus on certain brands – some survived, some didn’t. Fat was trimmed as far as brands that were a supefluous representation of market share and nothing more.


Frimley canned veges and ketchup advert, Marlborough Express, Volume XLV, Issue 254, 31 October 1911, Page 3

As no more than a trademark belonging to another larger and far more popular self-named concern, it had no doubt ceased to have any value as a stand-alone name.

I grabbed this Frimley label off the official Wattie’s site as a teeny .jpeg and was able to bring it back to life, although it did take the best part of a day. I will definitely get to a proper post on the Wattie’s company history – as one of New Zealand’s most successful and iconic brands.

Grocery Archaeology

In Desserts, Grocery Archaeology, Supermarket Anthropology, Wattie's on May 7, 2011 at 10.46

It’s come to a point of realization that I’m falling into a pattern. It’s taken six months of blogging with Longwhitekid that I now have seemed to have developed a clear direction – recovering and recreating graphics from long lost New Zealand grocery products. I’ve dubbed it “Supermarket Archaeology”. It wasn’t something I was really expecting to happen. I had a fairly clear modus operandi which was, initially as follows: strictly things I remembered personally, to “go with the flow” and avoid planning in advance, and most importantly – an accent on brevity so it didn’t quickly turn the project from “fun” into “commitment”. Oh well.

This week I’ve recreated a Wattie’s Junior Foods label. In fact I remember these, I and my sister were both fed them in infancy. In fact they were launched in 1958 in association with NZ Plunket.  There was a small range in brightly coloured labels, and I can recall one was a deep aqua…I guess I’ll just have to wait to find a colour magazine ad that showcases the lot one day if I am lucky – as Google is turning up nothing (as it does with so many of these products).

It took me weeks to find the right material to recreate the baby’s face. I knew I had a picture that was good kick-off material somewhere from a 1950s book of baby names but of course when I needed it, I couldn’t find it, anywhere. Most of the font was created by hand-kerning Milford and in some cases replacing entire letters (the Cs and Rs, and often the Ss are never right). They really didn’t have a great variety of fonts that they used for commercial design back then but – can I ever find a match out of 3000 I have at hand? Nope.

This was part of a collection that was originally snatched up by two or three people. It went on the market – in early 2008, just before I came on the Kiwiana scene – from an ex-marketing manager who had worked at Wattie’s through the 1950s to the 1970s. When one of the buyers decided to sell on some of their unwanted booty recently, the bidding was extremely fierce and a Wellington collector took out most of the good ones – he was prepared to pay any price it seems and pushed pretty much all of us aside for the prize pick. So I missed out on this particular item, as well as several others – assuming that nobody besides me would really be interested. So I guess my “Supermarket Archaeology” is also borne of necessity; not only a must-have I missed out on, but often couldn’t afford – the latter seems to be more often the case.

I still fail to understand how canned chocolate custard pudding can be in any way “nutritious” though. I guess it doesn’t actually claim it’s good for you…

from Trashed To Treasured

In Chicken Chips, ETA Foods, Grocery Archaeology, Snack Foods, Supermarket Anthropology on January 3, 2011 at 10.46

This is as good an example as I can show of how I go about recovering artwork for long-lost household product, when there isn’t a lot to work with. Last week I found this wonky photo – not even the original poster – with some of the old ETA products from my childhood; only a fragment of the chicken flavour chips package, and it was hidden behind the others.

I really loved this even back in the day as it was already retro-looking then, having not been revised for a very long time, or at least – very out of step with the current graphics trends of the 1980’s. I wasn’t able to find any references at all which I thought was amazing for such a popular product over the years. So with a lot of work with Adobe programs, and some imagination as well,  I was able to reconstruct the design.

ETA chicken chips bag reconstruction smaller WATERMARKED copy

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 this image. If you are interested in purchasing merch of this image you can head to my personal Redbubble store.

I’m not sure about the vignette that says “tasty” – I can’t at this point in time find out what the word was – so until the moment comes I just used creative license. So it’s not 100% accurate but I am pretty happy with the results!