1940s

1949 Frozen vegetables first processed in Australia

Amidst the food rationing of the war years, quick frozen vegetables become available in Australia.  In 1949 the first vegetables were specially grown and processed in NSW for sale under the Birds Eye brand.  Production later expanded to Tasmania.

1949 Peters Choc Wedge launched

One of the all-time favourites in the Peters range, Choc Wedge was a new variant of the vanilla icecream/chocolate coating combination that began with the Eskimo Pie. It had a distinctive wedge shape and came on a stick for convenience. More

1949 Jaffle craze hits Australia

Jaffle Brand jaffle ironThat Aussie icon, the jaffle iron, has a shorter history than you may think. It was invented in 1949 and was a coveted household item in the early 1950s. The original Jaffle brand jaffle iron was designed and patented by Dr Earnest Smithers of Bondi. So it’s all-Australian. He also invented the name – perhaps because it sounded a bit like waffle? More

1949 Aerophos Recipe Book

Aerophos Recipe BookIssued by the “manufacturers of AEROPHOS food phosphate raising ingredients”  the Aerophos Recipe Book was a fixture in many Australian kitchens during the 1950s. The introduction states that “Cooking is the most important part of running a home, and…the housewife has ample opportunity of making her cooking an expression of her own individuality.”

1949-74 Snowy Mountains Scheme

Snowy Mountains Scheme commemorative stampThe Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric  Scheme was an ambitious engineering project to turn back the waters of rivers that flowed east from the Snowy Mountains and channel them inland for electricity generation and irrigation. In the post-WWII period, it attracted migrant workers, who helped to change food culture in Australia. The Snowy Mountains Scheme commemorative stamp was issued on the 50th anniversary, in 1999.

1949 Jan gets Spotty’s dinner

Mum, Jan, Spotty and AuntAn unfortunate episode involving a high chair, a fox terrier called Spotty and a dish of cooked ox hearts. For the full story, read on…or see my memoir Me and My Big Mouth.

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1948 Sunbeam Mixmaster launched

Sunbeam Mixmaster 1954

Sunbeam can trace its Australian history back to 1902, when the American Chicago Flexible Shaft Company (later the Cooper Engineering Company) set up a business to make shearing equipment in Sydney. The company became Sunbeam in 1946 and the first Sunbeam appliance to be made in Australia was the Mixmaster. This American-designed product became famous in Australia and around the world. The Sunbeam Mixmaster was considered essential equipment for preparing that Australian classic, the pavlova. Sunbeam became Australian-owned in 1987.

1948 Australian Vegetarian Society re-founded

Although the first Australian Vegetarian Society was founded in 1886, there is little evidence of its activities between 1900 and 1948. In that year, the Society was revived after a conference held under the auspices of the World League for the Protection of Animals. Its first newsletter was published in July 1948 at a cost of 6d.

1948 first Holden car

First HoldenThe first Holden was unveiled by Prime Minister Ben Chifley at the GM-H factory at Fishermans Bend on 29 November 1948. Readily available, affordable cars would change life in Australia and have a big influence on the way we shopped, opening the way for supermarkets with large car parks to replace the local grocery store. >National Museum of Australia

1949 Dagwood Dog vs Pronto Pup

Dagwood DogIn a 1949 courtcase, a couple who claimed exclusive rights to sell ‘Pronto Pups’ sought to stop competitors from selling a similar product called the ‘Dagwood Dog’ at Sydney’s Royal Easter Show. The battered sausage on a stick was an American idea. Pronto Pups were introduced at the fairground in St Paul, Minnesota, in 1947, although ‘corny dogs’, which are essentially the same, are said to have originated at the Texas State Fair in 1938 (or maybe 1942, sources disagree). More

1947 Nescafe launched in Australia.

Nescafe launched in Australia with an affordable luxury promiseWhen Nescafe launched in Australia, it began the conversion of Australians from tea-drinkers to coffee drinkers. Coffee was associated with the new American-style glamour, tea with English conservatism and instant coffee made coffee drinking convenient.  A 2010  report  indicated that instant coffee still accounted  for about 80 per cent of all coffee consumed in the home.

1947 Royal wedding cake frenzy

royal-wedding-cakeAustralians love a good royal wedding. So when Princess Elizabeth married Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, Australian organisations were falling over each other to send gifts. Both the CWA and the Girl Guides zeroed in on the royal wedding cake. The Guides sent ingredients, the CWA a finished cake. Both were accepted, the finished products being among 11 or 12 cakes to make an appearance on the big day. More

1947 Wizz Fizz sherbet confection launched

Wizz FizzThis childhood favourite was originally a  paper sachet of sherbet with a liquorice straw. The Wizz Fizz is still made today by the Australian company that launched it in 1947, although the liquorice straw has been replaced by a plastic spoon.

1947 Golden Circle cannery opens

Golden Circle bookletBy the mid-1940s,  the pineapple industry was well established in Queensland. To provide marketing and financial stability, a cooperative was formed to finance the building of a cannery.  Golden Circle Cannery was opened at Northgate in 1947. The company was originally called Queensland Tropical Fruit Products, using “Golden Circle” as a brand name. More

1947 – Four ‘n Twenty Pie introduced

Four 'n Twenty Pie signThe iconic Four ‘n Twenty Pie was invented in Bendigo, Victoria by L.T. McClure who introduced them at the Royal Melbourne Agricultural Show. Owing to increased demand he opened a bakery in a pavilion of the showgrounds, later moving to bigger premises. Australians eat more meat pies per capita than anyone else – on average more than 12 meat pies per year. The Four ‘n Twenty pie factory is the largest in the world, baking 50,000 pies an hour.

1947 First Barossa Vintage Festival

Barossa Vintage Festival logoThe original Barossa Vintage Festival was a single event – a Thanksgiving Ball to celebrate the end of harvest and the end of WWII. It was conceived by Colin Gramp of Orlando Wines and Bill Seppelt of Seppelt Wines.   Australia’s longest-running wine festival, it is held every two years and now has a week-long calendar of events including  wine workshops, heritage events and, significantly, church services. The Barossa’s Lutheran leanings reflect its German heritage.

1947 Jan Trezise born on 12 March

The author of this timeline, once Jan Trezise and now Jan O’Connell, is a baby-boomer born in 1947 . Here’s the original birth notice, from The Argus, Thursday March 13, 1947. Thanks to the National Library of Australia’s Trove.

Jan Trezise birth notice

1947 Liquor Referendum NSW

In the  Liquor Referendum on 15 February, voters were given the options of 6 o’clock, 9 o’clock or 10 o’clock closing. Of a total of 1,697,230 votes cast, 1,050,260 opted to leave closing time at 6 o’clock.  In 1954, another referendum saw 10 o’clock closing approved by a narrow margin of 902,532 votes to 892,740.

1944 Meat rationing

meat rationing applied to sausages tooFrom January 1944, adults were allowed 2 1/4 lbs of meat per week. Meat rationing continued  until 1948. Newspapers and magazines such as the Australian Women’s Weekly published many ‘austerity’ and meat-free recipes to help cooks work within the wartime rationing regime.

1943 Splayd invented

SplaydThe Splayd is a combination of knife, fork and spoon. It was invented by William McArthur in Sydney, supposedly after seeing ladies struggle to eat at barbecues with standard cutlery, from plates on their laps. It was not mass marketed until 1962, when eating in front of the television had become commonplace. Splayds were popular as a wedding gift in the late 1960s and are still available in a range of sizes and finishes.

1943 Butter rationing introduced

Butter rationing in WWIIIn June 1943, butter was added to the list of rationed foods. The allowance for each adult was 1lb per fortnight. Butter rationing continued until 1950. Other foods, including eggs and milk, were rationed from time to time when shortages occurred.

c1943 The soldier’s friend F.R.E.D.

F.R.E.D. - Field Ration Eating DeviceIntroduced around 1943, the F.R.E.D., a combination can opener, bottle opener and spoon, was included in military ration packs. Officially a Field Rations Eating Device, it was familiarly known as the “F**king Ridiculous Eating Device”.  It may have been based on similar U.S. device called the P38, which lacked the refinements of spoon and bottle opener and was invented in 1942.  Soldiers in both forces formed a fierce attachment to these devices, which were just as useful for cleaning your fingernails as opening a can, and protested at their removal from active service when new packaging was introduced. More

1942 Women’s land army formed

Womens Land Army badgeWhen the Japanese entered World War II and young Australian men joined the armed services or war industries, there was a shortage of agricultural workers. In response, the Women’s Land Army was formed in July 1942. The ‘Land Girls’ carried out tasks including vegetable and fruit growing, pig and poultry raising, dairying and sheep and wool work. More

1942 Beer rationing

Beer rationing cartoon, The Bulletin, 1944

The Bulletin, 1944

Wartime beer rationing took the form of limits  imposed on production. In March 1942 breweries were required to cut their output by one third to conserve grain supplies.  Pubs were supplied with beer on a quota system and sometimes ran out altogether. In New South Wales, to help control consumption, pint glasses were eliminated from pubs. Later the same year, publicans were allowed to refuse to serve beer in schooners (16-oz glasses) except in the peak hours leading up to 6pm closing. More

1942 Tea and sugar rationed

World War II ration book

WWII Ration Book

To conserve food during WWII,  rationing regulations were gazetted in May 1942 and food rationing began in June. Tea was the first commodity to be rationed, the allowance being 1/2 lb per adult per five weeks. In July, sugar was rationed, with every adult allowed 2lb per fortnight. Australians were issued with identity cards and ration books.  Rationing of tea did not end until 1950.

1942 Call for Victory Gardens

Victory gardens posterDuring WWII, a combination of labour shortages, drought and the difficulty in importing goods led to the threat of food shortages. The ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign was launched by Prime Minister John Curtin in January 1942, with Australians encouraged to grow their own vegetables in Victory Gardens and raise chooks (or as they were officially referred to, ‘fowls’). Gardening groups and collectives were formed, with money made from the sale of the excess produce often going to support the war effort.

1942 Beefless days introduced

Beefless days announced in pressNewspapers throughout Australia announced on 16 January that “The eating of beef as well as selling or buying it on a beefless day is prohibited in a formal order issued tonight by the Minister for War Organisation of Industry (Mr J. J. Dedman) to give effect to the Government’s decision to fix two beefless days weekly”.  More

1941 Rise of the tuna casserole

Campbell's cook book - Tuna casserole recipes inside.Easy Ways to Good Meals: 99 Delicious Dishes Made With Campbell’s Soups popularised the tuna and noodle casserole made with a can of mushroom soup. The tuna casserole had various interpretations, and became a CWA (Country Women’s Association) classic in Australia. Convenience cookery relying on store-cupboard ingredients persisted for decades to come.

1941 The Oslo lunch

Poster promoting the Oslo lunch in UKThe Oslo lunch, invented by the Norwegian Professor Schiotz, had been associated with improved child health and weight gain in Norway and Britain. When the Oslo lunch was introduced in some Victorian schools, children who ate this combination of a cheese and salad sandwich on whole meal bread, accompanied by milk and fruit, were shown to be healthier after six months. More