A satirical verse published in The Worker detailed the menu of a banquet given by Lord Lamington, Governor of Queensland. The verse named a number of local politicians who dined royally on turtle soup, pigeons, turkey, truffles, and “livers of goose” (foie gras). More
In 1899, the Sanitarium Health Food Co. opened a shop in Maitland, New South Wales, selling goods produced in their factory in nearby Cooranbong. The company had its beginnings in Melbourne in 1898 but soon relocated to the site on the NSW central coast. Associated with the Seventh Day Adventist church, Sanitarium promoted vegetarian eating and the first health food store served lunches to the public. The company went on to operate many vegetarian cafés around Australia. More
While coffee seed arrived with the First Fleet, the sprouted plants soon withered in the Port Jackson climate. Experiments with growing coffee continued, however, and by the 1880s there were plantations in Queensland and Northern New South Wales. In 1899, 29 coffee growers met in Cairns to form the first Association. Coffee growing persisted into the 1920s, but declined owing to labour shortage, climate challenges and, during WWI, shipping problems. More
Granose flaked wheat biscuits were first made by Kellogg in the USA in the mid 1890s. In May 1899, the first Australian Granose biscuits were made at Cooranbong, NSW, by the Sanitarium Health Food Company, an arm of the Seventh Day Adventist church. The biscuits were unsweetened, but proved popular and were purchased by the Australian Government during WWI to help feed the troops.
Australia’s first commercially available peanut butter was made by the Sanitarium Health Food Company and introduced in 1898. It was among the world’s first commercial peanut butters. Cereal manufacturers, Kellogg’s, patented a peanut butter process in 1895 and it was being advertised under the Sanitas brand, also in 1898. From the 1930s, Sanitarium marketed their peanut butter under the brand name of ‘Betta’. More
The Coolgardie safe uses evaporation to keep the food inside cool, while protecting it from flies and scavengers. It was invented in the late 1890s on the Western Australian goldfields, an invention credited to a local contractor named Arthur Patrick McCormick. The Coolgardie safe was widely used in country areas well into the 20th century. (Image: Museum Victoria) More
While not an Australian dish, Melba toast belongs here thanks to its name. Invented by noted chef Escoffier at London’s Savoy Hotel, Melba toast may first have been called “Toast Marie” for the wife of the hotel’s manager, César Ritz. In 1897 (according to most sources) Australian opera singer Nellie Melba was feeling ill while staying at the hotel. The thin, dry toast suited her flagging appetite and was consequently renamed in her honour. More
Hugh Plaistowe was born in London where he worked in his father’s confectionery business. In 1895, in partnership with a Mr. J. Hobbs, he began making confectionery in Perth. The factory in West Perth began operations in 1915. Among their products was the famous Choo Choo Bar, now revived by Lagoon Confectioners. More
Partners H.R. McCracken (a commission agent) and T.J. Press (a grocer) converted their backyard jam and fruit preserving operation into a larger concern with the financial backing of Frederick John Cato (of grocery chain Moran & Cato). Beginning with a small factory in Flinders Street, Melbourne, Rosella Preserving Company opened its Richmond factory in 1905. Tomato sauce was first produced in 1899. The Adelaide Mail reported in 1931 that the company had more than 1000 employees. When Rosella was sold to Unilever in 1963 there were six factories. After changing hands twice more, the company was closed down in March 2013.
Think Leggo’s is Italian? Nope. Their heritage is Cornish. Henry Madren Leggo was the son of Cornish immigrants who arrived in Victoria’s goldfields during the gold rush. In 1894, he bought the Bendigo grocery distribution and manufacturing business where he’d worked since 1882. The company is now owned by American giant Simplot. More
The restaurant that was to evolve into Café Florentino opened its doors in Melbourne’s Little Collins Street in 1893. The propietor was Swiss-born Calixte Denat. The restaurant was relocated several times, before opening above Samuel Wynn’s wine store in Bourke Street in 1925. With its French cuisine and luxurious decor, Cafe Denat was, with Fasoli’s, one of the two leading restaurants in Melbourne in the early 20th century. More
The 1890s depression in Australia occurred after the land boom bubble of the 1880s burst. Overseas investment dried up, banks failed and unemployment soared. Relief societies were formed in many parts of the country to distribute aid to poverty-stricken families – generally of meat, bread and tea. Families in the poorer suburbs of major cities were desperate and many men took to the road to seek work. More
In 1893, health reformer Dr Philip Muskett bemoaned the amount of meat eaten by Australians. His book The Art of Living in Australia recommended a Mediterranean diet regime with more salads, wine instead of tea, more fish and a greater variety of vegetables. He subsequently published Book of Diet in 1898. More
Sargents Pies were first produced by George and Charlotte Sargent at their shop in Paddington. The small pies sold for a penny each. Although this business was eventually sold, in 1901 the couple and their son Harley opened two bakeries and refreshment rooms in the city. Sargents Pies (now distributed only in frozen form) account for about half of Sydney’s pie sales. More
Quong Tart was born in Canton, migrated to Australia at the age of nine and was raised by a Scots family in Braidwood, New South Wales. He made an early fortune on the goldfields and subsequently became a tea trader, opening a series of famous tea rooms in Sydney. Despite prevailing prejudice against the Chinese, Quong Tart became a leading businessman and figure of society and his tea rooms set new standards for quality and grandeur. More
Henry Jones had worked from the age of 12 for Hobart jam manufacturer George Peacock before starting H Jones & Company in 1891. Jam-making continued in the Hunter Street premises, which had been set up by Peacock in 1869. In 1895 the company purchased a building in Melbourne – the land mark Jam Factory. Incorporated as Henry Jones IXL (“I excel in everything I do”) in 1903, the company became a significant Australian food processor. More
The introduction of refrigerated railway cars made it viable to ship frozen meat, including frozen rabbit, to major cities and ports. Over the next three decades, rabbit trapping and freezing became a valuable industry. In Bungendore, NSW, a rabbit-freezing plant opened in 1906 and in the year ending July 31, 1909, handled more than 1.5 million rabbits. The plant employed 14 workers and over 250 trappers. The skins were also valued to make felt for the hat trade.
The quintessentially South Australian pie floater was reputedly invented by a Port Pirie baker known as Ern ‘Shorty’ Bradley. It consists of an upside-down pie in a bowl of pea soup, topped with tomato sauce. It is eaten with a spoon. Sometimes the tomato sauce is replaced with vinegar or Worcestershire sauce. More