The Wall Street crash of October 1929 heralded a worldwide depression that saw one in three Australian breadwinners unemployed. In what became known as the Great Depression, hunger was commonplace, people ate bread and dripping or bread with a little milk and sugar. Soup kitchens were set up to feed the starving and sustenance payments, “the susso”, were made in the form of foods such as bread and potatoes. More
The Blue Heaven milk shake is an all-Australian invention, but its origins are unknown. What we do know is that the artificial colour known as Brilliant Blue FCF (133) was first made in 1929 and subsequently approved for use in foods. Mixed with vanilla and raspberry flavours, and sugar, it became the basis of an Australian favourite. More
In 1929 the Australian government set up the Wine Overseas Marketing Board. It was financed by a levy on all grapes used for the manufacture of wine, brandy and spirit used for fortifying wine. In 1936 it became known as the Australian Wine Board. Between 1925 and 1939 Australia exported an average of 2.8 million gallons (12.6 million litres) of wine to Britain annually, which was about 20 percent of Britain’s total wine imports for that period. More
In an article in The Telegraph, Brisbane, in 1929, Margaret Cullen wrote about Robert Walsh’s Redcliffe garden where avocados were among the tropical and sub -tropical fruits being grown. She described the fruit, explained its history (omitting to say that the Aztec word for avocado, ahuacatl, also means “testicle”), and wrote that: ‘They are superb served as a salad (with or without other raw ingredients), with a mayonnaise dressing. Spread on toast or water biscuits and lightly peppered and salted they make a delicious “savoury.”’ Her article is likely the earliest mention of avocado on toast. More
Although people had been putting hundred and thousands (or nonpareils) on bread and butter for some time, the first known reference to this dish as Fairy Bread was in the Hobart Mercury in April 1929. Referring to a party for child inmates of the Consumptive Sanitorium, the article proclaimed that “The children will start their party with fairy bread and butter and 100’s and 1,000’s, and cakes, tarts, and home-made cakes…” More
In 1929, a number of Buderim ginger growers formed the first Ginger Growers’ Association with a view to developing the ginger industry in the area. Ginger had arrived with the First Fleet and Chinese settlers had also been growing it in Australia from the early 19th century. However, the formation of the Association marked the beginning of commercial cultivation and processing. More
In 1928, a 23-year-old entrepreneur named Oliver Kenneth McAnulty, opened a processed cheese factory in Brisbane. His Maxam Cheese operation raised the ire of the Kraft Walker company, who accused him of infringing their patent. A court battle ensued, with appeal and counter-appeal going all the way to the Privy Council in Britain. McAnulty won, and became a significant Australia cheese manufacturer and meat canner. He sold the business to Swift in 1947, who sold the brand to Arnott’s in 1967. More
In the town of Chillicothe in Missouri, the eponymous Chillicothe Baking Company was the first company to use a slicing machine to produce the successful Kleen Maid Sliced Bread. After ignoring this achievement for decades, Chillicothe has now reinvented itself as the “Home of Sliced Bread ”, holding an annual Bread Fest.
The first espresso machine in Australia, according to the Massoni family, was installed by Rinaldo Massoni at the Café Florentino in 1929. With a mixture of Italian family pride and good Aussie idiom, a Massoni descendent says: “The first commercial espresso machine was installed in the Café Florentino, Burke Street Melbourne by my grandfather Rinaldo Massoni in 1928. Patrons were delighted as this large machine hissed, plumed gushed streams of aromatic coffee, and promptly drank copious amounts of this delicious liquid. Any other claim in this regard is pure southern matter dropped from a north bound bull.” More
James Lambert of the Australian National Dictionary Centre has unearthed a reference to this popular fast food in the Melbourne Argus in 1928. On 13 October of that year, the paper proclaimed that “No Chinese meal is complete without some succulent dim sims (pork minced with water chestnuts and enclosed in paste), and such sweets as honeyed lychee nuts and honeyed ginger.” Lambert noted that many other sources have attributed the development of dim sims to William Wing Young in 1945. More
Rinaldo Massoni purchased Café Denat in Bourke Street, Melbourne and changed the name to Café Florentino. Now called Grossi Florentino, it is Melbourne’s oldest restaurant. Restaurant dynasties like the Massoni and Triaca families emerged in the 1920s. However, Italian culinary traditions had little immediate impact on the domestic cuisine of the Anglo middle-class family. More
MacPherson Robertson began making sweets in 1880 and by the late 1920s had 17 factories employing 2600 people. The Max-Mints Alphabet Book was an advertising pamphlet produced in 1927 and sent free of charge to any child who wrote to the company supplying their name and address. The mints were probably MacRobertson’s answer to Sweetacres’ Minties, which were launched in 1922. They look remarkably similar. More
The confectionery company Darrell Lea was founded in Sydney by an English immigrant, Harry Lea, in 1927, and named after his youngest son. Harry’s foundation product was Bulgarian Rock, a type of hard nougat. The company remained in family hands until 2012 when it was put into receivership and sold. The new owners closed the famous stores and the products are now only available in supermarkets and independent retailers. More
The inventor of Aeroplane Jelly was a tram driver. Bert Appleroth first made jelly crystals at home in his bathtub and began distributing them along his Sydney tram route. He subsequently formed a company called Traders Ltd with a partner, Albert Francis Lenertz and the brand was launched in 1927. More
In 1927, the Queensland Figaro and Punch published an article recommending brunch as a substitute for Sunday lunch. It seemed no-one much listened. Although brunch really caught on in the USA in the 1930s and was being served in at least one London café in 1933, it wasn’t until the 1950s that it became a fashionable way for the Australian social set to entertain friends at home. More
After the ceremony, the official party, including the Duke and Duchess of York, lunched on turtle soup, poached schnapper, fillets of beef, roast chicken and ham, straw potatoes, green peas, Canberra pudding, fruit ices, coffee and cheese. Provision had been made for the public, but the crowd was smaller than anticipated. As a result, more than 10,000 Sargents meat pies, as well as sausage rolls, prawns and fish were buried at the Queanbeyan tip. More
The Victorian Railways Refreshment Branch opened a stall selling freshly squeezed orange and lemon juice drinks at Melbourne’s Flinders Street Station in 1926. It was an initiative of the chairman of the Victorian Railways Commissioners, Harold Clapp. This was one of many innovations Clapp introduced to aid farmers and increase the railways’ freight business. He believed it was the Commonwealth’s first fresh juice bar. More
The Emily McPherson College, Melbourne, formerly the College of Domestic Economy, was named after the wife of its benefactor, Sir William McPherson, the then State Treasurer. It offered tertiary and non-tertiary training in Foods and Food Service, Dietetics, Nutrition and Food Science and Fashion Design and Production. It amalgamated with RMIT in 1979.
Gordon Edgell and Sons of Bathurst launched their canned asparagus in 1927 after 18 years of experimentation in growing the crop in the local area. In 1943 Edgell expanded to include a new cannery at Cowra and the one millionth can of vegetables rolled off the line just one year later. The brand is now owned by Simplot. More
During the early to mid-20th century, steak and eggs was considered by many to be Australia’s national dish. In 1926, an unknown bard composed a poem celebrating the combination. It was published in the Perth Truth. Rump steak and eggs wasn’t a new dish. It was mentioned as a breakfast dish in Australian, English and American newspapers in the mid-19th century. However, by the time of World War II it was strongly identified with Australia. More
The Melbourne entrepreneur, Fred Walker, had been experimenting with the processing of cheese. Learning about the process that had been developed and patented by J L Kraft, he travelled to the USA and obtained the Australian rights for Kraft Cheddar processed cheese. In 1926, the Kraft Walker Cheese Company was formed in Melbourne- the parent company for Kraft Foods Ltd. More
It started as a marketing idea. The original recipe for the Empire Christmas Pudding was published in an advertisement developed by London ad agency H. P. Benson in 1925 and financed by the Australian Dried Fruits Board. It promoted dried fruits from Australia and, in following years, produce from other outposts of Empire. At the time, a post-WWI passion for Empire had inspired the 1924-5 Wembley Empire Exhibition which had royal patronage.
The Cherry Ripe bar was introduced in 1924 by MacRobertson Chocolates (later to be taken over by Cadbury in 1967) and is uniquely Australian. It’s a combination of cherries, coconut and dark chocolate and is Australia’s oldest chocolate bar. In 2013 Roy Morgan Research found it to be our most popular chocolate bar. More
Although today’s Kirks soft drinks proudly boast “Since 1865” there is no evidence for that date of origin. The two companies that eventually merged to form Helidon Gardner Pty Ltd, trading as Kirks, were Owen Gardner & Sons (founded 1850) and the Helidon Spa Water Company (founded in 1880). However, the Kirks brand did not emerge until Thomas Kirkpatrick created a ginger ale recipe for Owen Gardner & Sons in 1924. More
In 2016, the revised edition of the Macquarie Dictionary included the term “double cut roll” for the first time. But this uniquely South Australian lunchtime treat had been around for more than nine decades by then. Double cut rolls actually have three horizontal cuts and two layers of filling, and are sometimes also sliced vertically, creating four sandwiches in one. More
The Chairman of the Victorian Railways Commissioners, Harold Clapp, wanted to see primary producers succeed, so the railways would succeed and the State succeed. He vigorously promoted sales of fruit, opening a fruit kiosk at Flinders Street Station and stalls at other stations. His campaign initially addressed a glut of oranges in northern Victoria growing areas. More
XXXX Bitter Ale was released by the Castlemaine Brewery in Brisbane in October 1924. The beer was promoted using a character known as Mr Fourex. This beer and Carbine Stout were the sole products of the brewery until the introduction of XXXX Draught in 1971. It seems the company applied for the XXXX trademark in 1894, even though the extra X wasn’t added to XXX Sparkling Ale until 1916. More
Seventh Day Adventist Dr John Harvey Kellogg filed a patent for flaked cereal process in 1895 when he and his brother Will (W.K.)invented it as an adjunct to the strict vegetarian diet at their Michigan health facility. Sugar was added to the corn flakes when they were first mass-marketed in 1906. In 1924, the first Australian Kellogg’s plant was set up at Chippendale, Sydney, moving to the current site of Botany in 1928.
The Green and Gold Cookery Book was one of the earliest ‘charity’ cookbooks and was compiled as a fundraising initiative of King’s College (now Pembroke School) in Adelaide. These cookbooks tended to be a ‘who’s who’ of local society, as local matrons contributed recipes. The Green and Gold Cookery Book has had close to 40 editions and sold more than 500,000 copies. More
The first commercially available, Australian-made domestic refrigerator to operate without ice was produced by Edward Hallstrom in 1923. It used kerosene as a power source and was promoted as ideal for outback stations where ice was not available. According to Museum Victoria, Hallstrom introduced the ‘Silent Night’ which ran on electricity or gas in 1935. However, I have heard from Hallstrom’s great grandson, who says the Silent Night was, in fact, introduced in 1928. More
As part of a campaign to promote fruit sales, Victorian Railways Commissioner Harold Clapp had a bakery built to produce raisin bread. The intention was to assist fruit growers and increase the railways’ freight business. Although raisin bread wasn’t completely new, few bakers were producing it in Victoria at that time. Raisin bread was promoted on railway posters. More
The Bowker family moved to Laura, 240km north of Adelaide, in 1870 and in 1880 began selling the milk and cream from their dairy. In 1923 the family opened Laura Ice Works, where they manufactured ice, offered coolrooms to store agricultural produce and began making Laura Ice Cream. The brand Golden North was adopted in 1948. Golden North ice cream is still made in Laura. More
As other Australian states had done in the previous decade, Queensland introduced earlier closing times for pubs, but chose slightly more civilised eight o’clock closing, rather than six o’clock. Western Australia had a nine o’clock closing time. Queensland hotel trading hours were extended to 10pm in December 1941. More
Brisbane Cash and Carry (BCC) was among the first Australian self service grocery stores, opened by Claud Archibald Fraser in 1923. The Brisbane Courier reported that “The system cash and carry naturally suggests the paying of cash over the counter, and eliminates the necessity of book debts and bookkeeping in the store, which means a saving to the consumer, and the policy of each customer serving herself, and so eliminating the necessity of sales men effects further saving”. More
Vegemite was developed by food technologist Cyril P. Callister for the Australian company Fred Walker & Co. in 1922 and, after a public competition to create a name, was first sold in 1923. Its competition was the imported Marmite, and initial sales were slow. Promotion of the health benefits of Vitamin B saw sales grow in the 1930s and the “Happy Little Vegemites” song in the 1950s cemented the brand as an Australian icon.
Frog Cakes are small cakes made from two layers of sponge with a jam filling, topped by a dome of mock cream and covered in fondant icing. Two fondant “eyes” are piped on top and the dome is slashed through to form a “mouth”. Frog Cakes, produced by Balfours Bakeries, were officially recognised as a South Australian icon in 2001. More
A company called Grain Products Limited added small amounts of sugar and malt to flaked cereal biscuits and launched Weet-Bix in competition to the popular Granose. The company and the brand were acquired by Sanitarium in 1928. Weet-Bix has been the best selling breakfast cereal in Australia for more than 35 years. A detailed history of its development , written by a descendent of one of the founders, is here. More
Australia had been the first export market for the British chocolate giant, Cadbury. In 1922, a consortium of the British firms Cadbury, Fry and Pascall opened a factory at Claremont on the Derwent River in Hobart to manufacture cocoa, chocolate and other confectionery. More
Although giving away samples had been common at the various Royal and country shows for some time, it appears that showbags (or as they were then called, sample bags) first appeared in the early 1920s. A humorous piece in The Sun, Sydney, in 1922 described one as “…a paper bag with a spinning top, a cake of nougat, a jelly crystal, a calendar and a monkey on a stick, for sixpence.” More
The Eskimo Pie – a foil-wrapped ice cream bar covered in chocolate – was invented by Christian Kent Nelson in Iowa USA in 1920. He franchised the product and by January 1922 Eskimo Pies were being manufactured and sold in Australia. What would become Peters Eskimo Pie was launched in Queensland in 1923 and Peters eventually owned the brand name Australia-wide. More
In 1921, in Sydney, a group of businessmen, reportedly Americans, formed a company “To acquire by agreement from Mint Products Company, New York, the right to use the name Life Saver, together with the formulae for the manufacture of sweets, etc.” Life Savers were launched in the eastern states the following year with dramatic newspaper advertisements. Eventually acquired by a consortium dominated by MacRobertson’s of Melbourne, the Australian licence for the brand was sold to Nestlé in 1985. It reverted to Australian ownership in 2018. More
Writing in The Argus in 1922, Mr F Lewis of the Fisheries Department sought to persuade Victorians to eat gummy shark. He advised readers that the shark, only marketed in any quantity over the last year or so, was a ‘clean feeding’ fish that would make a”cheap and wholesome food to reduce the cost of living”. However, because of prejudice against eating shark, he advised it would be best sold under the English name of flake. More
Some accounts would have it that the Violet Crumble dates back to 1913, while the manufacturers say 1923. The true date probably lies somewhere in between. A box of Violet Crumbles was advertised in 1921. The trademark was registered in 1923. Legend has it that Abel Hoadley named it after his wife’s favourite flower, the violet. However, Abel retired in 1913 and died in 1918 – probably before Violet Crumbles hit the market. More
The Group Settlement Scheme in the south-west of Western Australia was a government venture designed to establish a dairy industry. Settlers were recruited from elsewhere in Australia and from Britain, given land and subsidised for stock and expenses. Many holdings were uneconomic and settlers endured great hardship. After two Royal Commissions, the schemes were abandoned in the early 1930s. More
The Anzac Biscuit may have originated in Dunedin, New Zealand. In Australia, the biscuits were baked by volunteers and packed in Billy Tea cans to be sent to soldiers during WWI. The traditional recipe includes oats, golden syrup and (usually) coconut, but no eggs, which were scarce in wartime and would affect the keeping qualities.