Archive for the ‘Woolworths’ 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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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. 


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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. 


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. 


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.


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

Happy Returns

In Birthday, Cadbury Schweppes Hudson Ltd, Cake decorations, Cakes, Caxton Printing Works Ltd, Celebration, Children's parties, Cookie Bear, Elsa Ruth Nast, Krinkle crepe paper, McKenzies stores, N.Z. Co-Op Rennet Co Ltd, Party, Party favours, Peter McIntyre Jr., Peter McIntyre Sr., Renco Birthday junket, Renco junket, Woolworth's stores, Woolworths on April 6, 2014 at 10.46

1 Krinkle Crepe Paper Wrapper 1 - Caxton Printing - 1970s - front copy

Who knows how long this Krinkle packaging design was around? Not as long as it looks I think; I guess it was issued in the early 1960s. It remained in use until well into the 1970s when they finally realised that nobody was dressing like Pollyanna any more. Note the price sticker from Woolworths stores proving it’s post 1967 for sure, but would have been purchased some time after 1972.


2 Krinkle Crepe Paper Wrapper 2 - Caxton Printing - 1970s - front edit copy

The “updated” version of the packaging design, probably mid-late 1970s, didn’t look much more modern. Note the price sticker from McKenzie’s department stores. The chain was sold to L D Nathan & Co, Ltd, who subsumed it into the Woolworths brand, around 1979 so it dates from that year or earlier.


This recent acquisition of Krinkle crepe paper wrappers is something I’ve been aiming to get hold of for ages. I’ve always liked them because the graphics were so old-fashioned; and even when they updated the classic version sometime in the 1970s – the replacement still looked twenty years out of date! However it brings back real childhood memories for me in the way that Jay Tee patty pans and associated ephemera do; you knew when the Krinkle came out of the cupboard that something good was in the offing – whether that was a school fete, Halloween, Christmas celebrations or most of all – a birthday party. 2b Boy blowing out candles on birthday cake 1964 Swainson-Woods Collection edit copy

A boy blowing out candles on a birthday cake, by Bernard Woods Studio, October 1964. Swainson-Woods Collection, image courtesy of Puke Ariki and District Libraries collection.


2c Happy Birthday by Elsa Ruth Nast 0 Little Golden Books 1973 (5)

A plate from “Happy Birthday” by Elsa Ruth Nast, Little Golden Books, published 1973.


I closely associate Krinkle with one of my favourite books as a toddler – “Happy Birthday” by Elsa Ruth Nast – published as part of the Little Golden Books series in 1973 (yet, again, looking twenty years out of date at the time. This antipodean “backdraught” issue has been an ongoing theme of my postings). 3a Happy Birthday by Elsa Ruth Nast 0 Little Golden Books 1973 edit copy

The original cover design from “Happy Birthday” by Elsa Ruth Nast, Little Golden Books, published 1973.


3b1 Essential birthday cuisine Auckland War Memorial Museum edit copy

Essential Kiwi children’s birthday “cuisine”, from a display at the Auckland War Memorial Museum. Image courtesy of and © Robyn Gallagher on Flickr


I was obsessed with the invitations, the candy baskets, and the pieces of coloured pink and green paper ruled so you could cut it up and follow the instructions to make the decorations straight out of the book. I don’t know if I actually ever cut my copy up, though. I think I loved it too much to do that! 3b Happy Birthday by Elsa Ruth Nast Little Golden Books 1973 edit (26)

A plate from “Happy Birthday” by Elsa Ruth Nast, Little Golden Books, published 1973.


3c Woman's Weekly Feb 12 1962 - BIRTHDAY RENCO edit copy

Birthday Renco advert from the New Zealand Woman’s Weekly, February 1962.


Krinkle was made by Caxton, a major printing company founded by Peter McIntyre Sr. – an extraordinary commercial artist who did some spectacularly beautiful and elaborate images for a number of clients himself such as Tiger Tea. His son, Peter McIntyre , Jr. was also exceptionally talented; being the internationally renowned war and landscape artist who produced a number of best-selling coffee table books many would be familiar with. 3c1 Happy Birthday by Elsa Ruth Nast 0 Little Golden Books 1973 crop

Loose endpaper illustration from “Happy Birthday” by Elsa Ruth Nast, Little Golden Books, published 1973.


  4 Cookie Bear Birthday Card 1975 - Cadbury Schweppes Hudson - Owain Morris edit

 Cookie Bear birthday card, for Hudson’s biscuits, issued for 1975 by Cadbury Schweppes Hudson. Image courtesy of Owain Morris collection.


So yes, Krinkle makes this post a good excuse for a general birthday theme. Paper hats, crackers, streamers, blowouts and balloons abounded. Brands of cake candles were Kiddies, Dawn and Elfin (there were others that were popular – I can’t remember the names). Crepe paper brands were Fashion by Harley, Dennison, Pierrot, and Sylkette. There were a few more over the years. I actually had quite a large collection of cake toppers and decorations at one point, as well as party decorations, toys and favours- a lot of them still looked really old-fashioned at that time and I’d go to cake shops and buy them just to put on the shelf. 6a Happy Birthday by Elsa Ruth Nast - Little Golden Books 1973 candy baskets 1 further edit copy

Above and below: Party candy cups  from “Happy Birthday” by Elsa Ruth Nast, Little Golden Books, published 1973.


  6b Happy Birthday by Elsa Ruth Nast - Little Golden Books 1973 candy baskets 3 copy

Apart from all kinds of favours and games, the food was the main feature and included classic children’s party fare like little boys with Kiwi gravy (also known as saveloys with tomato sauce), chocolate crackles, sausage rolls, iced cupcakes or cream fairy cakes, asparagus spears rolled into buttered white bread.

6c1 Happy Birthday by Elsa Ruth Nast - Little Golden Books 1973 make candy baskets write invites copy

A plate from “Happy Birthday” by Elsa Ruth Nast, Little Golden Books, published 1973, showing how to make invitations and candy cups.


  6c2 Happy Birthday by Elsa Ruth Nast - Little Golden Books 1973 paper chains

A plate from “Happy Birthday” by Elsa Ruth Nast, Little Golden Books, published 1973, showing how to make party decorations.


Lamingtons, potato chippies with sour cream & chive or seafood flavour dip, fairy bread sprinkled with hundreds and thousands, cubes of cheese and pineapple threaded onto toothpicks and stuck in cabbages decorated with edible faces, all washed down with Leed, Fanta and other drinks from the Coca Cola Co, or perhaps Jucy raspberry, pineapple and creaming soda. 6c3 Happy Birthday by Elsa Ruth Nast - Little Golden Books 1973 invites copy

Invitation designs  from “Happy Birthday” by Elsa Ruth Nast, Little Golden Books, published 1973.


6c41 Renco birthday edit 1 copy

Birthday Renco boxes, and bottles still labelled and with original contents. They probably date from the late 1950s-early 1960s.


The quite un-celebratory sounding but brightly packaged Birthday Renco, which I’ve featured some images of here, was a little before my time. It was made by the N.Z. Co-Op Rennet Co Ltd., known more commonly for their junket – and they also made cheese under brands like Pixie. Nevertheless this product was around for four decades in six flavours – orange, lemon, vanilla, raspberry, passionfruit, and greengage. It was launched in the 1930s and around until the 1960s that I know of. 6c41a McKenzies Stores - party decorations - Evening Post10 June 1937 Page 6 edit more copy

 Advert for party novelties range from McKenzies Stores, Evening Post, June 1937. 


7 darian third birthday 1974 copy

Me with my Jack In The Box cake for my third birthday.


Personally, birthdays were a bittersweet time for me – I had a couple of duds .On my seventh birthday, I was allowed a rare treat – a “bought lunch” at school. We were usually allowed this once a year (or maybe twice if there was some kind of cataclysmic family event). 8 Darian 5th birthday 1976 under deck 42 Seymour Road Sunnyvale edit (1)

My fifth birthday party with my sister’s panda cake in the foreground. I remember helping to make the streamers and hats out of Krinkle crepe paper and milk bottle caps with my Mum.


8a betty-crocker-castle-cake The Betty Crocker's Boys and Girls Cookbook

A castle cake from “The Betty Crocker’s Cookbook For Boys and Girls”, published around 1965. This is remarkably similar to the one I got for my fourth birthday.


I dropped the boiling hot Big Ben pie on my leg causing a nasty burn that blew up into a huge blister, and spent my birthday party in agony, and too miserable to enjoy the number of Lego sets I received as gifts. While I sulked, all the other guests enjoyed my treasure chest cake. 9 Woman's Weekly Jan 1 1962 - BIRTHDAY RENCO edit copy

Birthday Renco advert from the New Zealand Woman’s Weekly, January 1962.


10 Renco birthday four closeups copy

Birthday Renco boxes, and bottles still labelled and with original contents. They probably date from the late 1950s-early 1960s.


So as a consequence they haven’t ever really held a special place going forth; more than anything else it was always more about the cake for me. And my mum was a great theme cake maker. You never said “this year, I want…” – she decided what cake she was making for you and that was that. The first one I remember she made me, was a Jack In The Box cake pebbled with lollies; the Jack made completely from icing.

11 Happy Birthday by Elsa Ruth Nast 0 Little Golden Books 1973 (23)

A plate from “Happy Birthday” by Elsa Ruth Nast, Little Golden Books, published 1973.


12 Woolworths NZ Ltd 1960's-1970's Bon Bons Christmas Cracker Box edit copy

Box for self line party crackers from Woolworths stores, I’m estimating these date from the early 1970s.


There was a semi-circular rainbow iced in seven different colours, and then the above-mentioned chocolate treasure chest, open and filled with candy. It was downhill from there. 13 Boy's birthday party, 1964 edi lighter copy

A boy’s birthday party, by Bernard Woods Studio, October 1964. Swainson-Woods Collection, image courtesy of Puke Ariki and District Libraries collection.


14 birthday cake plastic toppers crop

These candle holders were fairly common – you’ll notice them in use on my sister’s panda cake in the image of my fifth birthday party above.


For my fourth I memorably got a grand castle cake – with green coconut grass, marshmallow brickwork, and the towers topped with iced waffle cones. My sister went missing during the party and was finally found upstairs on a stepladder in the kitchen where she had eaten most of the turrets off it. I was devastated and inconsolable! She essentially upstaged me on my special day (this sibling rivalry on her behalf was to be, like so many have probably experienced, an ongoing theme). So for the next birthday I got a cake and my sister got one as well – a panda which was bigger than mine – so she wouldn’t get jealous and ruin my cake again. So effectively she managed to turn my special day into hers. It was a sign of things to come. These days I prefer to completely ignore my birthday – it’s just easier!
a 15 Krinkle Crepe Paper Wrapper 1 - Caxton Printing - 1970s - both backs copy

The back of both Krinkle crepe paper wrappers: Late 1970s design on the left, early 1960s design on the right. Note the large range of forty different colours with evocative names, which was later much reduced.

1970s birthday party Image courtesy of Stuart Broughton (

 Snapshot of a typical 1970s birthday party. Image  courtesy of Stuart Broughton.


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

Product Puzzle: UNA and the Grocers United Stores

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

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


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

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

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

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

Intelligent and painstaking: Ellesmere Guardian, July 1940.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!



Research Sucks: Woolworths and the Advent of American Style

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


Advertisement for Wellington Woolworths Stores, 1934.

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



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

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

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

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

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

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



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



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

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

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

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

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

No, really, I am done now!



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

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


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


Snap ‘Em Mall

In Food Fair, Lynn Mall, Rendell's, Wattie's, Woolworths on February 20, 2011 at 10.46

I happened upon this extraordinary set of photographs on Flickr this week.

They are so for two reasons: Firstly because if you are searching for this genre there is certainly enough of it; although almost without exception, all of the material is American.

Secondly, I remember it well. How often can you say that? “I remember it, because I was there”.

New Lynn was near enough to the family home , but still far away enough that it was still a bit of an “outing” for special requirements. Seeing photos of it – boom! – instantly transported me right back to shopping with Mum alone in too tight toddler shoes; and then later when my sister was added, her and I chasing each other around amongst the huge plant pots in the ubiquitous “modern age finish” of the bleak, pebble encrusted courtyards. And amongst the shelves and aisles of Woolworths to keep ourselves entertained, probably knocking things to the ground with our antics, to disapproving result.

The photographer has enjoyed the medium as a hobby for over 55 years without any formal training. ” These are Images of Woolworths Stores in New Zealand I worked at, or visited.The Lynnmall photos were taken night before official opening in 1963.This was a big event in Auckland, as it was the first regional shopping centre in New Zealand (this was six years after the first one in Australia opened at Chermside in Brisbane). I worked on setting up the store here, then three months later came back from a stint with Woolworths in Australia to manage the Food Fair in Lynnmall. there are probably thousands of occasions where people have captured similar moments around the world. The photos, most likely, get looked at, put in albums or boxes and stored away. If only they would dig them out and add them to a service like Flickr –  just brightening one person’s day would be worth the effort “.

Well, to me this series is an incredible documentation, especially for more personal reasons than others. Brighten my day it did. It’s the kind of stuff I often think “I wish someone had taken photos of something like that – but they never do…” and then, what do you know. Thank god for people with cameras at the ready.

I love to zoom in and look at the designs of the packaging, most now long gone. Here is a digital recreation of a can label I was able to make from the almost indecipherable image of the Wattie’s product stacked on the shelves in the store over to the left in the photo above. I also recreated the POS cardboard display. I’m not sure about some details such as the medallions on the can, but I was able to work with details from another 1950’s can label and photos I’ve collected.

ACheck out the full set here. Thanks to Degilbo for use of the images.

watties lynmall POS mint cropped 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.