In the wake of World War I, returning soldiers brought the so-called “Spanish” influenza to Australia. Around 40 per cent of Australians caught the virus. Many, confined to their homes, depended on charity kitchens to make food deliveries, while Spanish flu disrupted transport networks and caused food shortages in Western Australia and north Queensland. More
In 1918, beer prices became a trigger for what became known as the Darwin Rebellion. When an angry crowd marched on Government House it was the culmination of a series of beer strikes and protests against Administrator John Gilruth’s failure to give barmaids in the government-owned pubs time off to celebrate the end of World War I. The Darwin beer rebellion resulted in Gilruth’s removal from his position. More
During World War I, the antipathy towards all things German even extended to food. In South Australia, the popular doughnut-like bun called a Berliner was renamed as a Kitchener Bun. It is unique to South Australia, no doubt part of the State’s strong German heritage. More
The ‘Early Kooka’ range of gas stoves was developed by Metters, a company established by Frederick Metters in Adelaide in 1891. The company originally manufactured fuel stoves and advertised as ‘stove and range makers, ironfounders, engineers, coppersmiths, sheetmetal workers’. The ‘Early Kooka‘ range with its Kookaburra trademark, was released in 1917. More
The world’s first self-service grocery store, Piggly Wiggly, opened in Memphis Tennessee. Clarence Saunders, the founder of Piggly Wiggly, claimed to be the first to give shoppers “better value through high volume and low profit margin food retailing”. There are still more than 600 Piggly Wiggly stores operating in the United States.
The Copha trade mark was applied to a shortening made from coconut oil and was registered by Lever Brothers, the forerunner of Unilever. The oil was extracted from copra, imported from the Pacific islands. Sydney was an important hub for the copra trade, with much of the resulting oil used for soap manufacture. The brand is currently owned by Peerless Foods and is unique to Australia. Along with Kellogg’s Rice Bubbles, it is an essential ingredient of Chocolate Crackles, a popular treat for children’s parties. More
James L Kraft was an American cheese merchant who wanted to produce a cheese with better keeping qualities. His pasteurised, emulsified Kraft cheese was developed in 1915. The process was patented in 1916 and in 1917 the first batch of canned cheese was supplied to the US Armed forces. Kraft’s invention of a cheese that could be stored indefinitely was an advance in technology, but perhaps not in flavour.
Six o’clock closing was introduced for pubs in South Australia in 1915. The following year, Tasmania, New South Wales and Victoria followed suit. The temperance movement was successful in getting new laws passed that required pubs to close at six o’clock, arguing that a “well-ordered, self-disciplined and morally upright home front was a precondition for the successful prosecution of the war.” The result was a change in architecture that let publicans hose out tiled pubs after closing time. More
Alfred Earnest Haigh opened for business in Adelaide’s Beehive Building on 1 May 1915. Haigh’s Chocolates became an Adelaide icon, although it wasn’t until the 1950s that they approached the high quality of today’s product. Alfred’s grandson, John Haigh, introduced new methods after training at Lindt in Switzerland. More
Although the Fowlers Vacola name came later, Joseph Fowler began selling his home bottling kits in 1915. Initially, the kits were sold from a cart until the J. Fowler & Co. shop was established in 1920. Fowlers Vacola Manufacturing Co. Ltd. was registered in 1934 and the fruit and vegetable bottling kits became a feature of depression-era kitchens.
During and after WWI, soldier settler schemes were initiated to provide a livelihood for returning servicemen. Five years after the war ended, around nine million hectares had been allocated to returned servicemen, establishing 23,000 farms across Australia. Much of the land was marginal and the failure rate was high; in Victoria by 1939, 60 per cent had left their blocks. The schemes were revived after WWII, with a somewhat better success rate.
In 1913, the tango craze swept Europe, Britain and America. Australia was not far behind. In March 2014 the Paris Café in Melbourne began to hold tango suppers. These were so popular that tango dancing was added to the café’s afternoon tea assemblies. Tango teas and tango suppers aroused the ire of solid citizens who found the new dance suggestive and morally dangerous. More
After running what he claimed to be Australia’s first soda fountain at Sydney’s Imperial Skating Rink, Earnest Hillier opened his store in Pitt Street where he began manufacturing chocolate. The signature red chocolate box appeared in 1916. A second factory later opened in Melbourne and for many years the company operated a soda fountain at the Regent Theatre. More
The first issue of the Commonsense Cookery Book was produced by the NSW Public School Cookery Teachers Association in 1914 and published by Angus and Robertson. It has been through many editions since, constantly being revised to reflect changing tastes and traditions of cookery. A centenary edition was published in 2014. More
Although pumpkins (or their seeds) arrived in Australia with the First Fleet and scones had their origin in Scotland sometime in the 1500s, the first recipes for pumpkin scones appeared in the early 20th century. Almost certainly, home cooks were producing them before The Queenslander printed a recipe in 1913, as the Beenleigh Show had a special pumpkin scone category in 1914. More
In the late 19th and early 20th century, temperance advocates throughout Australia campaigned for a total ban on alcohol. The only place they met with some success was the new federal capital, Canberra. Prohibition in Canberra commenced in 1911 and the city was “dry” until 1928. But the laws only prevented the sale of liquor, not its transport and consumption. As a result, the hotels of nearby Queanbeyan did a thriving trade for the next 17 years. More
Bulla Dairy Foods was first established by Thomas Sloan as the Bulla Cream Company in Moonee Ponds, Melbourne. Thomas had invented a new method of thickening cream, pasteurising it by standing open cream cans in coppers fired by wood. Thomas Sloan was joined in the business by other family members. The company remains Australian-owned and is operated by three inter-related families. Bulla’s manufacturing operations in Colac began in 1921. In 2019 Bulla was the top-selling ice cream in Australian supermarkets, according to Roy Morgan research. More