1939 Wine and Food Society NSW

Victorian winemaker, David Sutherland Smith, of All Saints Vineyard, introduced the idea of Wine and Food Societies to Australia,  founding a group in Melbourne. The Wine and Food Society NSW was launched in the Rhine Castle Cellars on 9 March, 1939, with the inaugural dinner held at the University Club in Phillip Street on July 13 of that year.

1939 First Meadow Lea margarine released

Image: City of Sydney image library -  Meadow Lea margarine factoryMargarine was developed in the mid-1800s in France. Meadow Lea was one of the first margarines marketed in Australia.  The brand was founded by Oliver Triggs , a Melbourne grocer who moved to Sydney and began a manufacturing operation. Early margarines often contained beef fat and were viewed as a cheap butter substitute. Until the 1960s, to protect the dairy industry,  regulations in some states prevented the addition of yellow colour. More

1938 Nescafé instant coffee invented in Switzerland.

While not the first instant coffee to be marketed,  Nescafé was the first to be made by a spray drying process that maintained the flavour of the coffee. While earlier products were said to have a disagreeable, bitter taste, Nescafe was well accepted. Launched by Nestlé in Switzerland in 1938, it went on to become a world-wide brand.


1938 Harry’s Cafe de Wheels

Harry's Cafe de Wheels -1952

When a pie cost 11 pence

Harry ‘Tiger’ Edwards operated a pie cart at Woolloomooloo  just before WWII, taking advantage of custom from the navy dockyards.  He enlisted in 1938, was invalided out in 1942, then returned with his pie caravan in 1945. Famous for its pie and peas, Harry’s Cafe de Wheels was patronised by sailors and celebrities, prostitutes and late-night revellers. The original caravan is now in Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum. More

1938 First Blackmores health food store

Maurice Blackmore, founder of BlackmoresBlackmores, makers of a range of dietary supplements, used to claim that their founder, Maurice Blackmore, opened Australia’s first health food store in Brisbane in 1938. They have since amended that claim to “one of the first”. Blackmore developed a  system of healthcare based on naturopathic principles and established the first naturopathic colleges and associations in the country. More

1937 Earliest known Chocolate Crackles recipe

Chocolate Crackles recipeChocolate Crackles are small, chocolate-flavoured cakes made from Rice Bubbles, coconut and Copha. The earliest Chocolate Crackles recipe so far discovered was printed in an advertisement in the Australian Women’s Weekly on Saturday 18 December 1937. The advertisement was placed by Edible Oil Industries, a subsidiary of Unilever, who made Copha – a uniquely Australian ingredient made from solidified coconut oil.


1938 First Australian supermarket?

First Australian Supermarket - Farr's in NewcastleAlthough a number of grocery chains were already offering self-service, it seems that in 1938 Farr’s of Newcastle, New South Wales, may have become the first Australian supermarket. Or, at least, the first Australian store to advertise itself as a “super market”. Farr’s offered self-service and a range of departments including a deli counter, fruit and vegetables, fish, confectionery and bakery goods. Beginning in 1923 in Newcastle, Farr’s Market soon had branches throughout northern NSW and in 1925 opened a store in Bondi Junction, Sydney. However, only the Newcastle store was ever promoted as a supermarket.


1937 First frog farm at Euroa

American Bullfrog - frog farm stockIt was touted in American magazines as a money-making enterprise. Henry Jacka and Sydney Willson imported ‘breeding stock’ of bullfrogs from the American Frog Canning Company and established a frog farm in the Victorian country town of Euroa. However, the frogs apparently failed to breed and the enterprise failed.>‘Paradise’, Euroa by Bernadette Hince


1937 Houghton White Burgundy created

Jack Mann winemaker of Houghton White BurgundyWinemaker Jack Mann created Houghton White Burgundy (now Houghton Classic White).  The wine is still assembled from parcels of different grape varieties to produce a dry white wine. Components include Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc, Verdelho and Riesling, Semillon and Muscadelle. Jack Mann made the wine for 51 consecutive vintages, making it Australia’s oldest consecutive-vintage white. More

1937 Tasmania ends six o’clock closing

Tasmania, first state to end six o'clock closingTasmania was the first state to jettison the six o’clock closing legislation introduced during WWI. Ten years later, when the New South Wales government was holding a referendum on hotel closing times, the premier of Tasmania defended his state’s decision to move to 10 o’clock closing in an advertisement paid for by the Liquor Trades Council of NSW. He said that six o’clock closing had not provided any moral advantage, that the change provided people with the most freedom and that it benefited the State.


1936 Commonwealth Advisory Council on Nutrition

The Commonwealth Advisory Council on Nutrition was formed in 1936. In 1939 it became the Nutrition Committee of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), the Commonwealth Government’s peak body for medical research, which was established in 1926. At the same time, a Nutrition Unit was established in the then Commonwealth Department of Health. State and territory health departments set up similar nutrition committees to provide nutrition information and education programs.

1936 Seafood cocktail on the beach

It wouldn't be a seafood cocktail without prawnsIn 1936, The Mail, Adelaide, published a recipe for seafood cocktail as a suggestion for a beach party. It’s unclear when the first seafood cocktail was consumed in Australia, but according to legend its origins go back to the Californian goldfields in the mid-19th century. In the 1930s, the dish popped up on Australian menus and was associated with Hollywood glamour. More

1935 Pavlova dessert in Perth

Strawberry PavlovaThe dessert we know as Pavlova was inspired by Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova and both New Zealand and Australia claim to have invented it. However, new research has uncovered more than 150 similar, earlier recipes in Europe and America.  In 1935, Herbert Sachse at the Esplanade Hotel in Perth created the Australian version, which was virtually identical to an earlier New Zealand recipe. More

1935 Heinz starts manufacturing in Richmond

Heinz factory in RichmondProducts made by the US-owned Heinz company had been imported and sold in Australia since the late 19th century. The factory in Bendigo Street, Richmond, was opened in 1935. The first product produced in Australia was bottled horseradish. The first canned product was baked beans in tomato sauce, soon followed by canned spaghetti and a range of soups. More

1934 MILO introduced

Milo - Nestlé’s Tonic FoodFirst marketed as Nestlé’s Tonic Food, MILO powder was developed at Abbotsford in Sydney and launched at the Royal Easter Show. The chocolate and malt powder is mixed with hot or cold water and/or milk.  Although MILO was invented in Australia, it is sold around the world, including in Malaysia, Singapore, Columbia, Peru, the USA and Canada.

1933 Brahman cattle imported

Brahman bullAlthough other strains of Bos Indicus (Asian cattle) had been imported earlier, the breed now known as Brahman was first imported by a group of Queensland cattlemen in 1933. Brahman cattle were developed in the USA from Indian strains to produce a beef animal adapted to harsh tropical conditions.


1933 Australian Women’s Weekly founded

Australian Women's Weekly first editionOriginally conceived as a weekly newspaper for women, The Australian Women’s Weekly became the largest-selling magazine ever circulated in this country. Published by Frank Packer,  it was initially  printed as a black and white newspaper, and sold for 2d. In the early years it took a stand regarding the status of women in society, but by the mid-1930s was principally appealing to the traditional home-maker. The ‘Weekly’ became an important source of recipes and helped shape food trends in Australian homes. More

1933 Chocolate Ripple Cake

Brockhoff’s Chocolate Ripple biscuits were introduced in the early 1930s and the first recipes for Chocolate Ripple Cake appeared in 1933. The cake, made by sandwiching the biscuits together with cream and covering the whole thing with yet more cream, is still a popular party dessert. The biscuits are now made by Arnott’s. More

1932 Yo-Yo biscuits launched

Yo-Yo biscuitsYo-Yo biscuits, now made by Arnott’s, are a uniquely South Australian product. They were first produced by W. Menz and Co. and are famous for their honey flavour. Once included in the South Australian version of the Arnott Family Assortment, they were removed in 1997 in favour of national uniformity, causing local outrage.  They are still available as a stand-alone product, but only in S.A. More

1932 Australia’s first milk bar

Black and White Milk Bar advertisementThe Black and White 4d. Milk Bar, in Martin Place, Sydney was opened by Mick Adams in November 1932. He developed the concept after a trip to the USA. Adams had changed his name from Joachim Tavlaidis and was one of many Greek immigrants who operated milk bars, cafes and fish and chip shops in Australia in the early 20th century. Adams went on to open more milk bars in Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne & Wollongong.


1932 The Italian Society restaurant opens in Melbourne.

The Italian Society became The SocietyFounded by Guiseppe Codognotto to cater to Italian immigrants, the famous Bourke Street restaurant, The Italian Society, was run by the Codognotto family until 1984. During the war years, to avoid anti-Italian sentiment, the name was changed to simply The Society. After 1984 it went through several changes of ownership and name, but has now returned to its roots under the DiMattina Group.

1931 Smith’s Potato Chips arrive in Australia

Smith's Chips signSmith’s Chips  (then called Smith’s Crisps) were first sold in the UK by Mr. Frank Smith. The potato chips he and an associate, George Ensor, launched in Australia was made in gas-fired cooking pots, and packed by hand. The early product was sold in threepenny packets with a “twist of salt” sachet. More

1931 Sweetacres make Jaffas

3oz Jaffas packJaffas, with their chocolate core and orange-flavoured shell, were made by James Stedman-Henderson’s Sweets Ltd of Sydney under the brand Sweetacres. The brand was bought by Hoadley who were in turn taken over by Nestlé. They were a favourite in cinemas, where the sound of spilled Jaffas rattling down the wooden floors became a familiar accompaniment to Saturday matinees. More

1930 Freddo Frog introduced

Freddo Frog in 1930Freddo Frog was introduced by MacRobertson’s in 1930. The original plan was to launch a mouse-shaped chocolate bar, but a young employee, Harry Melbourne, suggested that a frog may be more likeable. The shape of the frog and its packaging have changed over the years,with Freddo Frog assuming a more cartoon-like character. The foil packaging has been replaced with a plastic wrapper. Cadbury now owns the brand, selling more than 90 million in Australia each year. More

1930 Fantales introduced

For decades, going to the movies involved either a pack of Jaffas or a a box of Fantales. The chocolate-covered caramels were introduced by Sweetacres in 1930. On their wrappers were, literally, fan tales – brief biographies of movie stars.  The tradition continues, with the stories updated every two years. More

1930? Queensland bans peanut butter

Not peanut butter, peanut pasteIt seems the dairy industry objected to the word “butter” being used for anything other than the dairy product. In response, legislation was passed requiring peanut butter to be called “Peanut Paste”. South Australia and Western Australia introduced a similar requirement, but in New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania “Peanut Butter” remained in use. More

1930 World’s first supermarket

King Kullen's first supermarketKing Kullen, the Price Wrecker, opened in 1930 in Long Island, New York. King Kullen is recognized by the Smithsonian Institute as America’s first supermarket although the business did not use that term. It offered mass merchandising, with a high-volume, low margin model. The founder, Michael Cullen, was a branch manager at Kroger Grocery & Bakery Co. in Illinois who, having his vision rejected by his employers, decided to go it alone. His venture was immensely successful. More

1930 Eat More Bread campaign

Eat More Bread cookbookThe ‘Eat More Bread’ campaign was a response to a surplus of wheat in Australia. A promotional booklet was distributed free by bakeries. It was designed to increase the consumption of home-grown foodstuffs and assist the local wheat industry. More

1930 First Coles cafeteria

Coles Cafeteria crockery

Coles Cafeteria, 1950s Source: Museum Victoria

For several generations of Australians, a visit to Coles Cafeteria was the highlight of a trip to the city. The first Coles Cafeteria was opened in Store No. 12 – the flagship store and company headquarters constructed in Melbourne’s Bourke Street. Coles claimed it was Australia’s first in-store cafeteria, although other retailers including Boans in Perth had earlier provided tea rooms.


1930s Procera becomes Australia’s first franchise

Procera logoThe Procera bread baking process involved enriching the flour with gluten, thus boosting its protein content, decreasing starch and improving its texture. It originated in New Zealand in the 1930s, with a baker called Henry Maltwood Williams. His process was patented worldwide and the patent-licensing approach was soon extended to the larger market of Australia. One baker in each market was granted the right to use the Procera name and the process in return for a royalty of 0.1 penny per loaf, in what became the first major franchising operation in Australia. More