longwhitekid

Archive for the ‘Wall’s ice cream’ Category

Here In Spirit

In All Blacks, Ballins drinks, board games, Cadbury's chocolate, Creepy, Hallenstein's, Halloween, Horror Bags, Jaybees, Milton Bradley, Rangitaiki Plains Dairy Co, Regina, Smiths crisps, Spooky, Sweetacres confectionery, Wall's ice cream, Weird, Weirdos, Whittaker's chocolate on November 1, 2015 at 10.46

Whittaker's Sharing is Scaring advert Halloween 2013 1

A Whittaker’s chocolate campaign advert for Halloween 2013. I’ll just say I don’t share my Whittaker’s. That’s when I can get it. There’s not a ghost of a chance you’d get any and you’d have a ghoul to even ask (sorry).

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So I’m back (in black) momentarily, but I swear this will be my last post until Yuletide. I ain’t hangin’ around like a proverbial ghost in a graveyard.

And this is only because I got a few comments and messages along the lines of “yippee, you’ve finally returned!’ , so I made a vague rumbling about a Halloween post I’d been considering. Who knows when I may get the chance again.

I was just at the supermarket and the checkout chick sassily enquired “so, have you been trick or treating tonight?”
“Which one?” I quipped. “I don’t multi-task, I’m a male.” She looked a little aghast as she totted up my purchases. “That’s 6.73”, she said, trying to bring things back in order. “Can I have a seven cent discount, in that case?” I suggested. Think about it.

Anyway, people like to say that in Australasia we don’t celebrate All Hallows’ Eve. Tosh, I say. In fact there’s a big party going on down the street right now. And by ‘big party’ I mean, a large speaker set up on someone’s balcony, blaring schlocky horror movie-style soundtrack music with evil Vincent Price cackles dubbed over it, kids in witches hats and onesies eating their bodyweight in sugar off a communal trestle table – while adults stand around with their arms folded, rolling their eyes as they hold lukewarm beers,  droning about who is responsible for school pick-ups the coming week, mortgage repayment difficulties, taking care of grass lawns in summer, and other dull stuff that isn’t part of my life -thankfully.

But definitely when I was a kid, October 31st or the nearest day was another convenient excuse for dress ups; and school would have us come in costume. I remember one year we were ordered to ‘frighten’ the other classes but I flatly refused. “Why not?” demanded the teacher. “Because I’m funny, not scary” I stated quite seriously. Even though I was dressed as a clown, of which the outfit I had padded with pillows to make myself look ‘fat.’ Well, I had my own way of doing things, even back then.  So it wasn’t as big a deal as Guy Fawkes night, but we still did pumpkins, candy, and scary movies.

That’s about it – enjoy some spooky snacks, creepy adverts and ghoulish games below.

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Monster Mix Confectionery Stickers possibly Allens & Regina - New Zealand 1970s edit copy

‘Monster Mix’ confectionery stickers, possibly by Allens & Regina (A&R) gum. They date from the 1970s but I don’t know any more regarding what kind of product it was, who the designer was (very cool work though), and whether Regina even produced them for sure. Image courtesy of Steve Williams collection.

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New costume suggested for the All Blacks by Ellam 1906 rugby-pioneersblogscom sml

The devil is in the details: A postcard published 1906 suggesting a new uniform for the All Blacks. Image courtesy of Rugby Pioneers 

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1969-Hey-Hey-Witch-Way (1) edit sml

‘Hey, Hey Witch Way?’ was first produced in 1969 by Whitman (not sure who was responsible domestically, John Sands I think). We actually owned this in the late 1970s; it was a cast off from some family friends in a huge pile of no longer wanted board games. As far as I recall, it wasn’t very exciting playing (especially in comparison to the ‘Haunted House’  game, on the market at the same time, further down this post) so didn’t get much of a work out.

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HORROR BAGS- SMITHS edit copy

‘Horror Bags’ were corn and potato snacks by Smiths; ‘Fangs’ were cheese and onion flavour; ‘Bones’ were salt and vinegar. I’m not sure how many different versions there were in this line, or even what decade they were being produced; the 1990s I suspect. I certainly don’t recall them.

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Girl from Waiwhetu Girls College Lower Hutt painting prop (witch's face) for play Ref EP fs 1959 fs 3810-1-F Alexander Turnbull Library redgreen copy

Student from Waiwhetu Girls College, Lower Hutt, painting a witch’s face on an actor for  a school  play, 1959. Alexander Turnbull Library collection, ref EP/1959/3810-1-F.

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Count Homogenized first episode of his own series 1982 copy

I loved this show ‘A Haunting We Will Go‘, which ran on the TVNZ channel in 1979.  Like every other kid my age the ‘vampire’ was my favourite character; Count Homogenized, played  brilliantly by Russell Smith. Does anyone remember anything else about it except this iconic character? Not really.  He was a neurotic, flapping, wheedling, snarky member of the damned who lived only on bottles of milk he stole from others. He was like Mr. Humphries (I don’t think there was much doubt the Count was a flamer) and the Milky Bar kid rolled into one, and topped off with a bad wig. You can see episodes here

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BALLINS SPIRIT PUNCH BOTTLE LABELLED 3 edit copy

Punch to make you palpitate by Ballin Brothers. Who knows what’s in this particular brew? These premixed cocktail drinks – the ‘Merry Widow’ brand was another one – were quite popular in the mid Twentieth Century. This flagon with its intact label probably dates from the 1950s. I previously wrote about the brand here

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Witch's ointment and oil - Red Cross-Red Kriss ointment Russell Knowles collection

‘Witch’s oil’ and ointment, manufactured by S.J. Evans in the 1900s and 1910s. It had disappeared by the 1920s. I assume it was a liniment for all kinds of aches and pains besides rheumatism. ‘Red Kriss’ ointment was formerly known as ‘Red Cross’ and likely changed in the early days of WWI conflict due to the connotation. It was made by Peter Dutton from 1892 onwards. Items from the Russell Knowles collection, author of photo unknown.

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Cadbury Monster Bar Wrappers 1970s - Steven Summers Collection single edit

Cadbury ‘Monster Bar’ wrapper, dating from the 1970s. There were at least four other  different designs in the series – a gorilla, dragon, T Rex, and a snowman (not sure how threatening the latter is, really). Image courtesy Steven Summers collection.

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Wall's Weirdos Ice Cream Promotional Cards - New Zealand mid 1970s copy

The ‘Weirdos’ line by Wall’s ice cream was launched around 1978 under the auspices of the Rangitaiki Plains Dairy Co (RPD). There was a series of posters and these nicely done promotional cards for at least five flavours which are now highly collectable. Image courtesy of Steve Williams collection.

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Old water powered gold mining stamper Collingwood headless horse for halloween edit sml - Copy

Just in time for Halloween, this image turned up yesterday, seemingly featuring a headless horse. Nobody seems to think this is a problem at the time – go figure. They were made of much stiffer stuff back then.
A water-powered gold mining stamper on Penny Weight Creek, Collingwood Taitapu Gold Estate, by my relatives the Tyrees (they were my great-aunt Irene Teward née
Norman’s uncles). Stampers apparently pulverized the quartz and mixed it with water into a paste – and the gold was extracted using mercury.

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The Haunted House Board Game aka Which Witch and Ghost Castle 1 copy

The ‘Haunted House’ board game, a three dimensional building with different rooms, was also known as ‘Which Witch’ and ‘Ghost Castle.’ I think it was made by Milton Bradley and first issued 1970. Just to confuse issues there was another board game at the time named ‘Haunted House’ as well as ‘Hey, Hey Witch Way?’ which I feature here. You don’t see these around too much at all now, so probably highly collectable. 

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The Haunted House Board Game aka Which Witch and Ghost Castle composite copy

Some more shots of the ‘Haunted House’ board game set-up with different ‘rooms.’ Back in the 1970s this was a real prize and if you owned it you were very lucky indeed. As far as I remember, yet another toy or game I was not allowed to have along with ‘Slime’ and ‘Mr. Potato Head.’ There’s some footage of it here.

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Wall's Weirdos - Weird Wolf Ice Block Poster 1970s - Steven Summers collection edit copy

Poster from the ‘Weirdos’ line by Wall’s ice cream, circa 1978 under the auspices of the Rangitaiki Plains Dairy Co (RPD). There was a series of posters for at least five flavours which are now highly collectable. Rangitaiki Plains Dairy Co also had the ‘Fiesta’, ‘La Grande’ and ‘Creemee’ brands. Image courtesy of Stephen Summers collection.

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Sweetacres Jaybees Jellybeans Monster Stickers - New Zealand 1970s edit

Stickers by Sweetacres for their ‘Jaybees’ line of jellybeans, 1970s. Now I do remember this monster character and the TV adverts. Not sure if they’re still on the market today, but I suspect they may be. Image courtesy of Steve Williams collection.

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Tim Burton called, and he wants his ghoul back Nelson Evening Mail, 3 August 1889

Tim Burton called, and he wants his ghoul back. I am pretty sure that the Hallensteins didn’t intend to be so totally creepy at the time. Or any other time. But them’s the breaks when you have a crappy printer. This advert  from the Nelson Evening Mail, 3rd of August, 1889. Image courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand.

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Wilford School pupils in costumes for a play  Ref EP fs 1957 fs 4894-F Alexander Turnbull Library edit copy

Not at all sinister, or anything: Pupils from Wilford School, Petone, Upper Hutt, in costumes for a play, 1957. Image courtesy of the Alexander Turnbull Library collection, ref EP/1957/4894-F.

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


A Frosty Phenomenon

In "K" Brand, Abel's Ltd., Batchelor's Surprise Peas, Birds Eye Frozen Foods, Birds Eye NZ Ltd, Butland Industries, Clarence Frank Birdseye, Continental Foods, Continental soups, Crest Fine Foods, Frying Saucers, Goldman Sachs/Postum Cereals, Handy Andy cleaner, Impulse deodorant, J. Wattie Foods Limited, J.R. Butland, Kirkpatrick, Knights Castille soap, Lever Bros (N.Z.) Ltd, Lever Products, Lifebuoy, Lucky Whip cream, Lux, Margarine Unie, Monkey Brand soap, Oak, Rosella Foods, S. Kirkpatrick & Company, Simplot, Solvol soap, Stockpot vegetables, Surprise, Thompson & Hill, Unilever, Van den Bergh Foods, Vim cleaner, Wall's ice cream, Wall's Ice Cream Ltd, Wattie Cannery Ltd, Wattie's, William Hesketh Lever on June 11, 2014 at 10.46

Crest Surprise dried  beans box recreation  copy

A recreation of  panels from a Surprise dried beans box, dated some time between 1970-76. I used a picture of a box sold on Trade Me in order to remake the graphics.

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Who remembers the Surprise brand? Everyone should. Especially the peas. I recall well how they were heavily advertised on television in the late 1970s and early 1980s – it was on relentless rotation!
However it may have been forgotten that Surprise were around long before that; as far back as the 1950s in New Zealand with pea and bean products – both dried and frozen.

Initially I wrote this article on the premise that the Surprise brand likely started out as a subsidiary of J.R. Butland’s Crest Fine Foods, later Butland Industries, given the logo is prominently displayed on the packaging. Crest was for some time the most successful (mainly canned) food business in New Zealand until usurped by the Wattie’s line (Butland had his initial success with the invention of Chesdale Cheese and was also behind the Goldpack fruit brand amongst others).

History is confusing around how the Crest brand passed from one owner to the next. My research shows that the brand changed hands in 1959 – but that Wattie’s kept producing the frozen stuff on behalf of Unilever until 1961 or so. Another record shows the Crest brand passing via S. Kirkpatrick & Company Ltd (the “K” Brand) to J. Wattie Foods Limited in 1960 (Wattie’s had also bought both “K” and Thompson & Hill’s OAK brands in this year).

shopper holding packets of surprise peas at Merrylands Shopping Centre, NSW  1966 editjpg

A shopper holding packets of surprise dried peas at Merrylands Shopping Centre, NSW, Australia. Taken in 1966 by Ern McQuillan, image courtesy of the National Library of Australia colelction, ref nlapic-vn4984301.

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I’d have to see more examples of packaging with notations on company details to develop a better tracking – but I would say that this was referring to the canned business, not the frozen and dried goods portion (Crest also included spices and sauce lines) – as by the early 1970s the Surprise brand, along with hugely popular Wall’s ice cream (covered here in September 2013) – is being marketed under the auspices of Birds Eye Frozen Foods NZ Ltd, a Unilever subsidiary. As the Crest brand died off for good around the mid-late 1970s that part was dropped by Unilever and the Surprise brand was slotted under Continental.

I assumed Surprise was by Crest – and that when Butland had supposedly sold the brand to Unilever (who then added some more product lines like packets of dried “Stockpot Vegetables” for various soups, amongst others) they acquired the Surprise line/ brand from Butland in the deal as well.

Just when I thought I had this all sorted – a Surprise sliced apples box appeared online for sale indicating it was manufactured by “Crest Foods Limited” alone. It’s similar to the box pictured here dated first half of the 1970s – except it seemed to have an imperial price written on it in pencil. Did Crest hold a license from Unilever for Surprise then conceded later? A quick check of records shows that the address for Crest on the box, at Jackson Street, Petone, Wellington – was the same address for Unilever’s Birds Eye.

Crest Surprise dried apples  box recreation  copy

 A recreation of  panels from a Surprise dried apples box, dated some time between 1970-76. I used a picture taken of items in a mock grocery store in an unknown museum collection to remake the artwork. It slightly differs from the earlier box at bottom.

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A potted Unilever history: William Hesketh Lever launched Sunlight Soap in England in 1885 and it was imported to Aotearoa until operations opened in Sydney in 1899 – at which point importation of the product into New Zealand switched to Australia. However it was not until quite late in the piece, 1919 in fact, that Lever products were produced domestically. In 1920 Lever merged with Dutch fats and oils business Margarine Unie modifying the company to an amalgamation of the two monikers – Unilever.

It’s the usual story with many Trans-Tasman companies – the development was quite separate as is the case with Unilever (until recently). Down under, Unilever spent a number of decades, well into the 1980s, still referring to themselves as Lever Products/Lever Bros (N.Z.) Ltd until they acquired the brands Oxo, Bushells, Faggs (coffee), and John West – and along with their Quality Packers business (including Choysa, Perfit, Red Rose and Q-P) all merged to form Unifoods NZ in 1988.

Over the years Unilever also produced Monkey Brand (household cleaning soap), and Lux was an enduring brand over the decades with soap powder, dish liquid and toilet soap lines. Other toilet soap brands were Lifebuoy, Castilever, Solvol and Knights Castille. Household cleaners Vim and Handy arrived in the 50s and 60s; Marge’s toothpaste and Impulse deodorant debuted in the 1980s. Soups included Continental , Country Style and Slim-a-Soup. There was instant Savoury Rice in beefy onion, Chinese style, and mild curry flavours. The Abel’s brand had vegetable oil, margarine, and copha – and Lucky Whip was a canned aerosol whipped cream. Frying Saucers, which I remember, were a frozen snack for deep-frying that resembled fishcakes but had mince meat inside. They were all the rage for a while when I was a child. Wall’s ice cream was at various times slotted in under the Birds Eye frozen foods subsidiary. The Surprise line was put under the Crest brand for some time. I am sure there were a number more brands that Unilever produced in New Zealand.

Crest Surprise quick-dried Sliced Beans box 12      copy

A Surprise dried beans box dated early-mid 1970s used to recreate my artwork for the box panels at top. Note the decimal price stamp shows it definitely dates after 1967.

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Clarence Frank Birdseye was a taxidermist turned inventor from Brooklyn who experimented with and developed a flash-freezing system for frozen foods in the 1920s after being inspired by Inuit Eskimo methods he observed on assignment in Newfoundland. Within a few short years, after having invested a few dollars in brine, ice and a fan – he had perfected the technique through trial and error (and one bankruptcy) and sold his General Seafood Corporation business for a fortune to Goldman Sachs/Postum Cereals (which later merged to become General Foods in America).

Again, the company histories separated out between the U.S. and the U.K. – having different owners in different global territories . The latter is how the brand came to Aotearoa via British Unilever – who bought rights from America to the ‘quick freezing’ patent and Birds Eye brand in the 1930s.

Home refrigeration started to popularise in the 1930s – and gave rise to the ice cream industry catering to this phenomenon – by packing their products for the first time in card quart and pint boxes to take home for post supper treats. Frozen vegetables were a new-fangled thing in New Zealand in the late 1940s but the above groundwork had already been laid for their immediate popularity.

Woman's Weekly  1964_Part1 CREST SURPRISE PEAS copy

Advert for Surprise peas by Crest, New Zealand Woman’s Weekly, 1964. I think this is the dried version.

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In 1947, Unilever of Britain contracted with Wattie’s to produce frozen peas, then a variety of vegetables and fruit under its Birds Eye brand – which I previously mentioned here in December 2011. Wattie’s then established a new plant at Gisborne in 1952 in order to continue accommodate this contract. Subsequently, as soon as their new processing facility opened Wattie’s followed with their own packaged peas and corn; this eventually became a huge range of frozen product that did their competition no harm in the marketplace for quite some time – for Birds Eye were around well into the 1980s before it fizzled out (the business was finally dismantled in 1984). However the brand had a longer and more popular life in Australia, where it continues to this day.

A 1956 still seems to show Birds Eye peas, raspberries and frozen fish (probably fingers, which launched in England that same year) amongst other items. According to Simplot, the current owners of the brand in Australasia – Birds Eye was not launched over the ditch until two years later in 1949 – although I think it’s clear by now that believing what a company writes on their own website about their own history is tantamount to listening to a claim from most politicians.

By the 1980s the Surprise brand had expanded to apples, peas, beans, butter beans, peas and carrots, minted peas, mixed vegetables, and chopped onions. I am sure there was more, this is just what I know of. The brand is still under Unilever and going Strong today, with four products – minted peas, garden peas and peas & corn (all in frozen and dried versions) and dried mixed vegetables ( a combo of pea, potatoes, beans and carrots). To my knowledge Wattie’s (now Heinz Wattie’s Ltd) continue their association with Unilever for production.

SURPRISE SLICED APPLES CREST FOODS LIMITED Jackson Street Petone looks to have imperial price 3 S 6 D edit copy

A Surprise dried apple box, likely dating between 1961-1966. I conject that by this time the ownership of the brand had transferred to Unilever, and product was being manufactured in their Wellington plant, hence the Jackson street, Petone address on the side.

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However right at the end of writing I ran across a U.K. radio advert archive which lists an ad for Surprise garden peas circa 1960 – suddenly making me wonder whether they were either exported to the U.K for sale by Unilever – or simply originally a Unilever brand all along . Something wasn’t right with my story.

Further to that, In an online discussion about the Surprise brand one person remembers “…Batchelor’s “Surprise” peas . My father devised the name and designed the packaging…” I’d love to follow up on this line of inquiry but the conversation was unfortunately archived. Some further digging into Unilever history in the U.K. revealed that in the early 1940s Van den Bergh Foods/Unilever had acquired a fifty year old British company named Batchelor’s which specialised in processing peas.

Then I ran across a 1966 promotional photo in the National Library of Australia archive of a woman holding a few packets of Surprise peas – almost the same package design I’ve featured in the 1964 advert here. However the brand name was different and after a lot of squinting I realised the product was under Rosella, not Birds Eye. Unilever were successful in a takeover of Rosella in 1963 and remained owners until 2002.

With Unilever’s Surprise line in New Zealand appearing under Crest just after the acquisition of that brand, then their Surprise line in Australia appearing under Rosella just after the acquisition of that brand, I started to see a pattern. I conject that Surprise was never a Crest brand and Unilever acquired the product and technique with their purchase of Batchelor’s in the U.K. They just threw it under whatever was the most popular brand in the marketplace at the time in a corresponding country – hence it’s move to Continental when Crest was given last rites in Aotearoa.

Surprise peas - IGA Shopping Game 1969 14th anniversary - 197 Four Square  copy

 L:  Surprise dried peas box from a 1977 Four Square stores brochure.  R: Surprise frozen and dried peas packets from an IGA stores shopping-themed board game issued as a promo for the 14th anniversary of the brand in New Zealand,  in 1969. 

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The conclusion is fairly clear that Surprise was never originally a Kiwi brand at all. The research still took me on an interesting journey, though. Although, – it seems that, despite my best efforts – this story is not quite wrapped up yet.

I’d date these particular boxes I’ve recreated at some time between 1970 and 1976 (closer to the former date) based on regular changes to the packaging, as well as being evidenced by the decimal price of 25 cents.

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Update June 2015: Katherine Milburn, one of the  Ephemera Librarians at the Hocken Library Collections archive, saw this article and was kind enough to contact me with some data on the frozen foods industry, as well as these scans of Surprise brand  bean boxes. They definitely date after 1972 as the printer’s mark is ‘Whitcoulls.’ This company wasn’t producing items of packaging until that year,  after a merger of huge printing and publishing businesses Whitcombe & Tombs  and  Coull Somerville Wilkie. However since I’ve established dates for the boxes in the main article as being in production as late as 1976 when they were still marking packaging of items with dual imperial and metrics for those slow on the uptake, that gives us a pretty good start date.

Surprise beans-Hocken Library Collection  (1) edit sml

Surprise beans-Hocken Library Collection  (2) edit sml

As for a cut-off date, well our only clue is the  complete absence of a barcode, so probably prior to around 1982. I also remember this Whitcoulls logo in use in the late 1970s to early 1980s.  So, two versions of a box for the same product. Obviously the yellow one is earlier at 32 cents. Plus the mustard theme just screams of the decade they call ‘the one that style forgot’ (I beg to differ on this point). So I’d say late 1970s for this one; the green version shows the price has now risen to 41 cents so a guess of the very early 1980s.

Surprise beans-Hocken Library Collection  (3) edit sml

Surprise beans-Hocken Library Collection  (4) edit sml

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

A Trail Goes Creamy and Cold

In Alpine Ice Cream, Apex Ice Cream Company Limited, Cornelius J Van Dongen, Eldora Ice Cream, Fonterra, Frozen Foods, G.E. Patton Ltd, Gager's Electric Belt, General Foods Corporation (NZ) Ltd, George Edward Patton, Hellaby's, Ice Cream, Lone Star Cafe, McAlpine, Newjoy Ice Cream Co, Perfection Ice Cream Co, Peter Pan Frozen Foods Ltd, Peter Pan ice cream, Prestcold refrigerators, Robinson Ice Cream, Sunshine Ice Cream, Supreme Ice Cream, Thomas Gager, Tip-Top, Wall's ice cream, Wall's Ice Cream Ltd on May 7, 2013 at 10.46

Apex Ice Cream Board recreation  copy

A recreation I’ve made of a rare metal and wood sandwich board, designed to advertise Apex outside on the footpath in front of a dairy.

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Apex is yet again a brand about which very little is known; it was Christchurch-based and lasted around forty years or so. I don’t even have a name for a founder or owner. However this almost complete lack of information  gives me a chance to delve into the lives of various names that were at some time associated with the brand and the property. a

Airds Dairy & Cake Shop Papanui shows Apex Ice cream and Ernest Adams Cakes edit

Airds Dairy and Cake Shop, showing Apex on sale as well as Ernest Adams cakes and Queen Anne chocolates, year unknown. Image courtesy of the Gordon Shields Collection via Kete Christchurch, File ref PHG25GS

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Apex Ice Cream Old Enamel  Sign 91 x 38 cm 1 edit  copy

Painted tin Apex advertising. The logo and slogan were fairly standard although the dimensions varied.

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Apex seems to have been established in 1933 at 25 Manchester St, Christchurch – but by whom I do not know. Records show the company was granted a building permit on 11th of  September that year. The builder was George Edward Patton (born 1885), whom by this time had already been in business locally for a decade; in 1923 he had founded G.E. Patton Ltd at 188 Barbadoes Street, Christchurch, not that far away (now renumbered to 194, it is next to  Henry’s beer wine and spirits). This building still stands although it looks somewhat different with a remodelled facade  and is quite dishevelled today.  a

25 Manchester Street, Christchurch Central, Christchurch 8011, New Zealand 1

Above and below: The first  Apex building built 1933 by Patton, at number 25 Manchester Street, on the corner of Dundas.

25 Manchester Street, Christchurch Central, Christchurch 8011, New Zealand 2

Patton were refrigeration specialists that went on to produce commercial fridge cabinets – the type for nicely displaying drinks, snacks and treats that need to be kept chilled – obviously ice cream being one product. We can surmise that Patton, through his commercial refrigeration work – had the equipment and know-how to easily set up such an operation with the machinery it needed. A photo of 1940 of the Barbadoes showroom shows their range is very well-established. They manufactured for McAlpine  (Prestcold refrigerators), amongst others and then eventually moved into purely design/wholesale products for huge businesses like Hellaby and Fonterra. They now have a number of branches all over  New Zealand as well as in Australia, Thailand and India and major international clients. a

DSC07603 Apex Ice Cream 1960s NZ edit

The original version of the sandwich board I’ve recreated at top. Image courtesy of  www.brentz.co.nz

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By 1936 Apex were offering family blocks as well as supplying bulk deliveries to dairies and parlours as exemplified in the couple of simple ads I have found in publications. This building still stands today on the intersection – now painted lurid orange and green and houses Printstop in two thirds and a cycle store in the remainder. a

G E Pattons 188 Barbadoes Street today edit

Above: The old G. E. Pattons showrooms, 188 Barbadoes Street, Christchurch, today. Below, the Pattons staff in the 1950s, courtesy of the Pattons website. 

Patten edit

It’s  possible Patton was from the Mount Somers area west of Christchurch as there is a mention in 1916 of someone by that name enlisting. He was part of the 13th C1 draft, and spent a spell serving in WWI. He married Ethel Laura Bundy (1894-1994) in Canterbury, year unknown. This may explain why there does not appear to be any marriage record – it’s indicated that they married between 1931-1945. It does not appear they  had any offspring or if so no records are publicly available due to privacy restrictions. That’s about all I know about him to date. He died in 1973, and was described as an engineer living in Opawa.a

APEX ICE CREAM STAMPS TO COLLECT Ellesmere Guardian, 1 October 1937, Page 1 edit colour copy

An advert for an incentive to buy Apex ice cream, Ellesmere Guardian, October 1937. Presumably a larger picture was made from individual stamps that were collected (probably not an image of an actual radio, but a picture of a radio star or show) and then once fully assembled you got your money. I doubt I’ll ever see one of these turn up – and if it did – the set wouldn’t be complete anyway.

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It may be worth noting that another major ice cream business of the time, Perfection, was further down the same street at numbers 300 and 304 over time, and in April 1940 Patton was also tasked with building at least one of those premises for them.a

Lone Star Cafe - 26 Manchester St courtesy Lone Star Cafe FB page

The second Apex building built 1940 by Van Dongen, Number 26 Manchester Street, directly opposite the 1933 premises on the intersection of Dundas. This became the first of a chain of 25 Lone Star Cafes. Image courtesy of  their Facebook page, and appears to have been taken in the early-mid 1980s.

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Previous occupants at 25 Manchester street, in whatever building had been there before – were both tailors (I am sure there were others). Thomas Gager is advertising an “Electric Belt” with supposed curative properties, in the late 1880s. As it turns out he fancied himself a bit of an inventor and there are a few references to his registering of patents. It seems he was in situ from at least 1882  until 1893 when there is a notice of his stock being bought for sale, after he went bankrupt – and he moved down the road to number 95. In the 1910s-1920s, Geoffrey Madden, another tailor and fitter,  is calling from the same address for men with unwanted war costumes to sell for fancy dress use.

Apex Ice Cream 25 Manchester Street - Opawa Public Library Carnival booklet 1930s edit orange

Apex advertisement from an Opawa Public Library Carnival booklet, circa 1936.

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On the 29th of May, 1940, permission was again granted to Apex Ice Cream Co. to build on the corner of Dundas and Manchester Streets, Christchurch, showing the construction was done this time by  a C. J. Van Dongen. Cornelius Jozepfus Van Dongen (b 1885) was presumably a Dutch immigrant given the provenance of his surname. He enlisted for  service  on the 5th of  August 1918, and was passed as fit on the 13th.  Details mention his profession as carpenter and residence in Tenysson Street, Sydenham,  at the time.  He was recorded as a “builder” by profession,  by the time he died in Christchurch, in 1966. The only other snippets I could dig up on his background was that he married to Ethel May Van Dongen (b 1886) who passed away in 1918. They had lived for some time in Hawkes Bay during the 1910s. They had a daughter Gladys Sybil Petronella born 1907 (later married a Francis Joseph Ashworth, 1928).  In 1923 he married a Sara Rubena Westwood Ritchie.

Apex Ice Cream tin sign from Australian site Roadside Relics edit  copy

Painted tin Apex advertising from outside of a building. Image courtesy of  Roadside Relics, Queensland. I had a question to the retailer about how this ended up in Australia – and apparently it was purchased  from the owners of  a pub named Pump in Maryborough in the 1980s-1990s, who were originally from Dunedin and had it decorated with a collection of signs they had brought with them. 

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Presumably this new Apex building was an additional premises, directly opposite 25 Manchester street on the intersection. This building was for many years, until recently, the original Lone Star Cafe  which eventually became a successful chain of twenty five venues. It was unfortunately destroyed in the 2010 earthquake and subsequently demolished. Apex Ice Cream Co. Ltd., was granted a Goods Service License under the Transport Act, 1949, Christchurch sometime between 1953-1962, showing that besides selling locally, they were by this time distributing far and wide.a

APEX ICE CREAM - CONTACT MAGAZINE Volume 3 No  2 Jan Feb 1943 Page 64 and 65 crop copy

Apex advert, from Contact: The National Magazine of the Royal New Zealand Air Force,Volume 3 No  2 Jan Feb 1943, Page 65. 

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 Over the last five years three or four hand-painted tin or wood Apex signs have come up for auction – all with similar layout and slogan – although varying dimensions. The only exception has been this red dairy footpath sign (that I recreated here with some modifications) which has been for sale from a Christchurch dealer for some time now. I’ve previously contacted him through both his website and Trade Me with personal sales inquiries for items and all times I have attempted my questions have remained unanswered  yet I noticed he’s very keen to provide answers when he auctions  five or ten dollar items so…winning sales technique there. Ergo I haven’t even bothered to contact again and find out anything about the provenance of this item. Given that apparently he is not interested in making any serious money – he certainly won’t be answering questions when none at all is on offer.

Lone Star Cafe - demolished

Number 26 Manchester Street, The original Lone Star Cafe, now a danger from earthquake damage, comes down.

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Data indicates that Apex was still running into the early 1970s at least (Christchurch Planning Tribunal/Environment Court case files are on record for 1971) – but it was eventually bought out by Tip-Top along with other companies like Supreme, New Joy, Robinson, Perfection, Eldora, Sunshine,  Peter Pan, Alpine, and Wall’s. By 1964, Tip-Top had finally achieved national distribution by gobbling up all the smaller (frozen) fish. Closed company files  indicate Apex may have changed hands in 1956, then again in 1964, which may be when Tip-Top stepped in and took over – since they were on a roll at the time buying out smaller brands in their bid to get to the top – they bought out Eldora in 1964 and Supreme in 1963. The final Closed Company Files for Apex were lodged sometime between 1964 and 1979. The only employee I’ve tracked down also commenced working for Apex in 1960 and finished up in 1964, so all the dates converge to some telling event. Unfortunately I was not able to talk to the person in question before publishing this article – but I am sure there is more to be added to this story in future. Perhaps someone trawling the web will come across this and be able to pass on some vital information that fills the gaps, like they did with the Peter Pan Frozen Foods saga.

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THOMAS GAGER TAILOR Star , Issue 5812, 29 December 1886, Page 2 edit

Above: Gager, had been just one resident business owner  in the days before Apex. From the Star, Page 2, 29 December 1896. He moved to 95 in 1893, but he was already hawking his own patented invention of electric accessories from his former address at 25 Manchester Street in the 1880s. Below, an ad from the Press, 15 November 1893, Page 7.

THOMAS GAGER'S ELECTRIC BELTS  Press, Volume L, Issue 8640, 15 November 1893, Page 7

 

Credits: Thanks to Dave Homewood, from Wings Over Cambridge,  check out their collection of great Contact magazine covers online here.  Also thanks to  Chris Newey from Foodworks online – the  New Zealand Food & Beverage Directory,  for some research pointers.

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

Addendum mid-Jan 2014: I’ve added this amazing, extremely rare image of an early piece of Apex advertising. This was sent to me by Nick Boblea, a hard-core veteran of enamel sign collecting. He has an amazing accumulation from what I’ve seen – and was kind enough to contact me after reading this article and offer a picture of this one. I’m guessing it dates from the earliest days of the brand.

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Addendum mid-March 2014: Reader Carolyn Catt kindly sent in this  image of  one of two Apex signs stashed in her garage, that she acquired twenty years ago in the Christchurch area.

Apex sign c Carolyn Catt copy smlveteran of enamel sign collecting. He has an amazing accumulation from what I’ve seen – and was kind enough to contact me after reading this article and offer a picture of this one. I’m guessing it dates from the earliest days of the brand.a

Reconstructing Wall’s

In Apefruits, Birds Eye Frozen Foods, Birds Eye NZ Ltd, Crazy Joe Cola iceblock, Frozen Foods, Ice Cream, Rangitaiki Plains Dairy Company, Sno Frute, Street's Ice Cream, Tip-Top, Unilever, Wall's ice cream, Wall's Ice Cream Ltd on September 9, 2012 at 10.46

Originally a British brand, Wall’s started in Acton in 1922 and the business was such a success that by 1959 production had doubled and a large factory rebuilt in Gloucester. I would conject that the brand came to New Zealand soon after that – probably in the very early 1960s under the auspices of Unilever. I really don’t have that much information on the history of the brand in Aotearoa. Kiwis hold these sort of  brands dear via fond memories of something they grew up with – yet the story didn’t really happen here; like many foreign concerns such as Cadbury’s that wheedled their way in to the marketplace via franchises or mergers – basically they just arrived and kicked some eggs out of the already-established nest, so to speak, to make space for themselves.

The first real records I have of specific products are Tahitian Delight (1961) and Sno Frute in flavours big orange, big pineapple, and big pink lemonade (probably late 1960s).
By the early 1970s the brand is being marketed under the auspices of Birds Eye Frozen Foods NZ Ltd, a Unilever subsidiary which was present in New Zealand from 1947 – having Wattie’s produce their frozen fruits and vegetables for them under the Birds Eye brand, which I previously mentioned here in December 2011.

By the early-mid 1970s I personally have memories of the Woppa in blackberry banana flavour (I have recreated all the flavours that I am aware of, but I’m sure there were more over time). I also remember having Tornadoes and boysenberry Splices – but I think most people will be familiar with the very popular “Crazy Joe” character which they used for a cola flavour popsicle (or “iceblocks” as they were commonly referred to in Aotearoa) – he was also used in Australia and the campaign was pretty much identical from what I have seen. A big thing at primary school in the mid to late 1970s was the Apefruits range, based on the sensational Planet of the Apes hit TV series and the ice novelties came in flavours like Orangutang, Chocanana, Jaffanana, and Gorillaberry with a matching sticker set to collect (now competitively pursued by collectors).

The brand pumped out novelty lines with no stopping through the 1970s and some of the names for products I have run across are Daisy, Spider, Sundowner, Fizzbang, Goblet, Weird Wolf, and Witchy Goo – specific years unknown.
Wall’s Ice Cream Ltd it was purchased and run by the Rangitaiki Plains Dairy Company circa mid 1970s , for a brief period of time.

By the very end of the 1970s, the business been snapped up by that great subsumer of all smaller ice cream brands, Tip-Top – and seem to continue through the eighties to the end of that decade with products like Star Trek in1982, The Goonies in1985 (both based on the hit movies of the moment), and an America’s Cup “KZ-7” novelty in 1987. Presumably by the end of the decade, the brand was dismantled.

I recreated the Woppa labels and the poster from different lots that have been sold on Trade Me over the years. In particular the wrappers were terrible quality and quite a feat, but not the hardest thing that I have done over the last couple of years by a long shot. The flavours of the Woppas sound absolutely mouth-watering and I could have one now!

It looks like the brand in Oz was eventually subsumed by Street’s Ice Cream (obvious from the logos I have seen). However Wall’s products, still based in the UK , continue to be made today – apparently still a market leader with some products. It is still owned by Unilever in Britain and is now truly a global brand, just no longer in Australasia.

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The Woppa poster is available from my online store along with lots of other things. Greeting cards are a great deal!

http://www.redbubble.com/people/darianzam/works/9331906-walls-woppa-poster

http://www.redbubble.com/people/darianzam/works/9332116-walls-woppa-card