As eggs became demonised as high-cholesterol food, The Victorian Egg Board enlisted the services of artist, author and television chef Peter Russell-Clarke to promote their product. He published an Egg Cook Book in 1979 and it is claimed that sales of eggs rose 5% in three years.
The Breville Kitchen Wizz food processor was an affordable Australian version of the European MagiMix. It was one of the time-saving appliances, designed to make life easier for working women, who wanted to impress at dinner parties but no longer wanted to make pastry by hand or spend tedious hours pushing ingredients through sieves.
The first supermarket to adopt barcode scanning in Australia was SIMS supermarket in Melbourne’s western suburbs. Manufacturers and retailers formed the Australian Product Numbering Association in 1978 and, by 1986, 90 per cent of grocery items sold in Australia carried barcodes.
The first Ali Baba kebab restaurant opened in 1979 outside the Woden Plaza in Canberra’s inner south. It was founded by Lebanese brothers Mick and Karl Marjan. They opened two more restaurants in Canberra during the 1980s – at Belconnen and in the city – and in 1989 began a franchising operation offering take-away kebabs. By 2007 it was Australia’s largest kebab and wrap chain.
As with Greek families who developed oyster bar and cafe empires in the early 20th century, the Ali Baba story has a strong family element. Karl Marjan was a chef and businessman who arrived in Canberra in the late 1970s and, with his brother Mick, set up his Ali Baba dine-in and take-away restaurant. When the brothers began to expand their kebab operation, many of the original franchisees were family members who emigrated from Lebanon to join the business.
In a 2012 interview with The Canberra Times, Karl Marjan said that most of the franchise in Canberra was owned by family, uncles, cousins.” ”In Lebanon there is a real passion for cooking,” Mr Marjan said. ”Our grandfather had a restaurant. We have a passion for food.
In 2007 Ali Baba K’Babs & Wraps acquired its largest competitor in Queensland, Uncle Tony’s Kebabs, which expanded the brand’s presence in the sunshine state and made it the largest kebab and wrap chain in Australia.
In 2011, in response to concerns about high-fat fast foods, Ali Baba announced a ‘new look’ menu that focused on fresh ingredients and included additional salad plates. Their offerings include the weirdly multicultural offering of the Beef Mexicana Kebowl, which includes “beef, sour cream, avocado, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, onion, Ali Baba’s Signature Chilli Sauce with Persian rice“. Central America meets Middle East.
Because Ali Baba outlets are largely located in shopping centres, and operate on shopping centre hours, they sit somewhat outside the kebab culture of late-night drunken noshing. It’s the ‘safe’ kebab offering.
In 2017, the company was claiming that it had almost 60 outlets nationally and was serving over 4 million customers each year. It is still 100% Australian owned.
American nutritionist Nathan Pritikin’s book, The Pritikin Program For Diet And Exercise, spent a year on the New York Times’ bestseller list. The program required that you cut out salt, sugar, fat, caffeine and alcohol and limit the amount of red meat in your diet. As a result, it promised, you would live to play tennis with your grandchildren. As one dieter commented “You may not live longer on the Pritikin Program, but it certainly feels like longer.”
In 1978, Australia’s first McDonald’s Drive-Thru opened in Warrawong, New South Wales. This was just three years after their first American drive-thru, which opened in Arizona in 1975. It’s suggested that the Sierra Vista drive-thru was set up to cater to customers from the nearby military base who weren’t permitted to get out of their cars while wearing fatigues.
REV milk was low fat and high calcium and aimed at young adults. In 1988, Lite White milk was launched in New South Wales and distributed to 85% of the state. Lite White was a success, with a growth of 150% in its second year. The milk was initially aimed at health-conscious 18-39 year-olds. By 1989 reduced and low fat milk held 12.5% of total milk sales.
The Decor Insulated Wine Carrier with wine chiller was the essential accoutrement for visits to BYO restaurants. It was designed by Richard Carlson to hold two bottles of wine or four drink cans and had a removable chiller pack to keep the drinks cold. Manufactured by Decor, an Australian homewares company, it was awarded an Australian Design Award in 1979 and the Prince Philip Prize in 1980.
The Champagne Diet, published in Australian Vogue, made much of the fact that champagne was the least fattening of all drinks, with just 35 calories a glass, compared to 170 calories for a gin and tonic. The stringent diet regime, clearly a nutritionist’s nightmare, allowed for four glasses of champagne a day, plus a couple of brandies. And not much else: an egg, a small serve of seafood, a few crispbreads and salad. Still, who needs food if you have champagne? More
By 1978, 70% of households in Sydney and 64% in Melbourne had colour TV sets, one of the fastest change-overs to colour in the world. The Melbourne Cup was first televised to a national audience – a great opportunity for the consumption of chicken and champagne Australia-wide.
Sarah Stegley and Marieke Brugman owned and operated the Howqua Dale Gourmet Retreat, at Mansfield in central Victoria for 30 years as a gourmet retreat and cooking school. Howquadale was one of the first places to offer a pre-packaged weekend getaway based around food. More
Iain Hewittson and Sigmund Jorgenson started the influential Clichy restaurant in unfashionable Collingwood. The fixed price menu experimented with nouvelle cuisine, described as “original food in the French manner’. The wine list featured the wines of Victoria – a first for Melbourne.
The first 7-Eleven opened in the Melbourne suburb of Oakleigh on 24 August and within a year there were several 7-Eleven stores trading beyond the 7am to 11pm suggested by the name. Along with 7-Eleven stores came the dreaded Slurpee, a brand owned by 7-Eleven and one that has spawned a whole culture of its own.
By 1977, Coles, Woolworths, Safeway and Franklins – the ‘big four’ – had a 47 per cent share of the total grocery market.
The best thing since sliced bread was sliced cheese. Kraft Singles, individually wrapped slices of processed cheddar were launched in Australia in 1976. Various varieties are now available. An attempt was made in the 1990s to combine two leading Kraft products in the form of Vegemite Singles. The Vegemite-flavoured cheese slices did not prove popular and were taken off the market.
By 1976, a million people were leaving the country annually to travel overseas. They now travelled by air, not by sea, and returned with food preferences influenced by Europe or places along the hippy trail from Kathmandu to London. The increase in overseas travel continued. There were 1.3 million departures in 1983 and 3.4 million per year by 2003.
The first Thai restaurant in Australia was the ‘Siam’ in Sydney, opened in 1976. The Patee Thai restaurant claims to be the longest established Thai Restaurant in Melbourne and opened in Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, in 1983. By 1989, Thai cuisine had even penetrated the Italian stronghold of Carlton, when Lemongrass opened in Lyon Street. By the end of the 1980s, Thai cuisine began to rival Chinese as a casual dining choice. More
One of the few politicians to publish a cookbook , the Premier of South Australia favoured an eclectic and informal style of cooking, rather than the stuffy, formal French approach. Don Dunstan’s Cookbook included Indian and Malay dishes, as well as French, Italian, Greek and Swedish ones. He saw this multicultural mix as a distinctly Australian cooking style.
Gilbert Lau was part-owner of the Empress of China restaurant in Little Bourke Street, Melbourne, one of the first upmarket Chinese restaurants in the city. He left to open the Flower Drum, which became renowned as one of Melbourne’s finest restaurants and was eventually recognised as one of the world’s top restaurants by Restaurant magazine in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005. Lau sold the Flower Drum Restaurant in 2003. More
The famous “you oughta be congratulated” advertising campaign started to assure mums that Meadow Lea Margarine would not only help their families to avoid the evils of butter, but actually tasted good. Created by Alan Morris and Alan Johnson – the “Mo” and “Jo” of Mojo Advertising – it became one of the most famous campaigns of its time.
With a campaign featuring Gina Lollobrigida, Leggo’s changed its heritage from Cornish (Leggo is a Cornish name) to Italian. Abandoning recipes for cottage pie and Chilli Con Carne, future advertising focused on Italian dishes. Tomato paste formed the basis for many of these recipes. The first Leggo’s Italian-style sauces were launched in 1975. More
On 1 March 1975 television officially moved to colour. Colour TV had been around for a while overseas and there had been experimental telecasts in Australia. Australia had one of the fastest change-overs to colour television in the world. Advertisers were quick to capitalise on the potential to show their products in appetising colour.
A replacement for the old-fashioned jaffle iron, the Breville Snack’n’Sandwich maker sold 400,000 and was snapped up by 10 per cent of Australian households in its first year on the market. It allowed toasted sandwiches to be made quickly and with no mess. The appliance was popular overseas and was eventually named as one of British TV personality Stephen Fry’s 100 best gadgets.
After a long dry(ish) spell during the depression years of the 1930s, beer consumption grew rapidly during the wartime years. Throughout the ‘50s and ‘60s, Aussies drank even more. In 1974-5 per capita beer consumption reached its peak of 140.3 litres a year for every person over 15. By 2013/14, this figure had fallen to 92.37 litres, a 60-year low. More
On June 26, at 8:01 a.m, Sharon Buchanan, a check-out operator at Marsh’s supermarket in Troy, Ohio scanned the first product with a bar code: a pack of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit chewing gum. The pack is now preserved at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington. Bar code scanning took some time to reach Australia.>
Pink Lady® is a trade-marked name for an apple variety known as Cripps Pink. The apple was developed by horticulturalist John Cripps, by crossing the Golden Delicious apple with the Australian variety Lady Williams. Although the variety emerged in 1974, the Pink Lady trademark was not registered until 1989. More
The Bankcard brand was shared by Australian financial institutions and was the first generally available credit card. At launch, banks mailed Bankcards to all their eligible customers causing an outcry about security. Bankcard dominated the credit card market for around ten years, although it could only be used in Australia and New Zealand. With the introduction of the internationally accepted Visa and Mastercard, Bankcard began to decline. It was discontinued in 2006.
By the early ’70s supermarkets had 50% share of the grocery market, a substantial increase since 1968-69, when a third of the groceries in Australia were sold in supermarkets. Five years later, this had increased to half. In 1973, Woolworths had 20% of the Australian grocery market, followed by Coles with 14%. The Davids group, which included Supa Valu and Foodland, had 5%, Franklins had 4%, and the Western Australian group FAL 1%. The remaining 55% was shared by other retailers.
Free school milk continued long beyond my primary school days, until a report to the government in 1973 deemed it poor value for money. While it came too late for me, I regard the abolition of school milk as one of the finer achievements of the Whitlam government, up there with free university education and bringing the troops home from Vietnam.
The ceiling upstairs at Shakahari was silver insulation foil. There was brown rice a-plenty. The food was wholemeal, unrefined and usually an extremely good chew. The influences, as the name suggests, were initially Indian but the cuisine evolved into an east-west fusion. Shakahari had its devotees and was a cool place to go to feel the love.
Introduced in the book Dr Atkins Diet Revolution, the Atkins diet promised people they could lose weight while eating as much meat, cheese, cream, eggs and other low-carbohydrate foods as they liked. The Atkins diet was endorsed by celebrities and departed from traditional nutritional advice to reduce fat. It changed the way many people ate, by rejecting even “complex carbohydrate” foods such as bread, pasta and rice.
The National Library of Australia has this publication dated at 1972, although other sources are less certain of the date. This book, distributed in Australia by the Banana Growers Association, is a collector’s item. It’s best known for the infamous Banana Candle recipe – essentially a banana inserted vertically in a pineapple ring, drizzled with mayonnaise and topped with a slice of cherry (see below). More
The first Australian McDonald’s opened in the Sydney suburb of Yagoona 16 years after the company was founded in the USA. It was followed by several other Sydney stores and, in 1973, by one in Springvale Road in Melbourne. The original Yagoona store closed in 1994. The Springvale Road building was demolished in 2016, to be replaced by an updated McDonalds.
The first Australian Pizza Hut opened in Belfield, Sydney in April 1970. The building (shown here) is now a Korean restaurant and the red roof has been painted green. The brand has grown to have over 355 stores in Australia and New Zealand. Pizza Hut is the world’s largest pizza restaurant company with more than 13,000 restaurants in over 97 countries.
The permaculture philosophy of farming and sustainable living was developed by Bill Mollison and David Holgrem in Tasmania. It grew out of an increasing interest in biodynamic and organic farming during the 1960s and 1970s. Their first book, Permaculture One, was published in 1978.