At 9.15pm on 3 September, 1939, Prime Minister Menzies said in a radio address to the nation “It is my melancholy duty to inform you officially, that in consequence of a persistence by Germany in her invasion of Poland, Great Britain has declared war upon her and that, as a result, Australia is also at war”. World War II would affect every aspect of Australians’ lives, including how they worked, lived and ate. Production and supply was controlled by John Dedman. More
Victorian winemaker, David Sutherland Smith, of All Saints Vineyard, introduced the idea of Wine and Food Societies to Australia, founding a group in Melbourne. Following his example, 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. More
There is some dispute about the origins of Steak Diane but it was almost certainly introduced to Australia by Tony Clerici, maitre d’ at Romano’s restaurant in Sydney. Clerici claimed to have invented the dish at his Mayfair restaurant in 1938 and named it in honour of Lady Diana Cooper, formerly Lady Diana Manners, the society beauty of her time. He brought Steak Diane with him when he returned to Sydney in 1939. More
Margarine 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
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.
Blackmores, 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
Chocolate 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.
Although 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.
Winemaker 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
It 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
Tasmania 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.
Sunshine Powdered Milk became a staple during the war years. It was often used to make up bottles for babies and could even be whipped to make ‘cream’ as this 1960s television commercial shows. It was also a favoured ingredient of damper. Initially made by Universal Milk Products of Broken Hill, it became part of the Nestlé range. More
The Commonwealth Advisory Council on Nutrition was formed in 1936 after Australian delegates to the Assembly of the League of Nations had initiated an international inquiry into world-wide problems of nutrition. It was chaired by the Commonwealth Director-General of Health and consisted of a range of experts from the health, agricultural and research sectors. The Council undertook two studies. One looked at the household diets in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. The second surveyed the nutritional health of (white) children in inland areas. More
Harry ‘Tiger’ Edwards operated a pie cart in Sydney’s 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
The Wine and Food Society of Victoria was modelled on the London Wine and Food Society established by gourmet and historian Andre Simon. It was formed in September 1936, with a joining fee of one guinea (£1/1/- or $2.10) and an annual membership fee of two guineas. The first president was Francois de Castella. Functions were mostly for gentlemen only, with four grand banquets each year to which ladies were invited. Only in 1998 was the constitution changed to permit female membership. More
In 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
The 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
Products 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, Victoria, was opened in 1935, the first product produced in Australia being bottled horseradish. The first canned product was baked beans in tomato sauce, soon followed by canned spaghetti and a range of soups. More
First 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 it was invented in Australia, it is now sold around the world, including in Malaysia, Singapore, Columbia, Peru, the USA and Canada. A ready-to-drink version was introduced in 2015. More
Pearl meat is the adductor muscle of the pearl oyster and is a by-product of the pearl and pearl shell industries. It was traditionally eaten by Indigenous people and, of necessity, by the crews of pearling luggers. The dried meat was being exported from Thursday Island to Asia as early as 1934. More
Although 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.
Originally 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
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
Yo-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
The 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 and Wollongong.
Vita-Weat crispbreads were first produced by Peek Frean in the UK and were the foundation product when the biscuit company opened its Australian subsidiary in 1932. Arnott’s acquired Peek Frean’s Australian operation in 1975 and Vita-Weat became part of the Arnott’s range. More
Unlike many early margarines which were made from or included animal fats, Nuttelex has always been a purely vegetarian spread. It was created in Melbourne in 1932 by Hugh Halpin. The business was bought by Gordon McNally and Ted Mayes in 1941, with the backing of Unilever. The partnership dissolved in 1947 and the McNally family became sole owners of the Nuttelex brand. More
Founded 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 returned to its roots under the DiMattina Group. The restaurant closed in 2016.
In one of the most notorious incidents of the Great Depression, around 2000 of the unemployed staged a march from Port Adelaide to the city. The marchers were protesting at the removal of beef from their relief rations. The march descended into a riot, now known as the Beef Riot, with many marchers and police hospitalised. More
Smith’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 were 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
Jaffas, 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
Freddo 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
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
It 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
King 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
Personality Chocolates was a boutique chocolate maker with a factory in Bayswater Road, King’s Cross. The company began in 1930 and became known for quality chocolates in Sydney. The business apparently foundered in the 1970s and after the name was sold Personality Chocolates became essentially a retail operation. More
For several generations of Australians, a visit to Coles Cafeteria was the highlight of a trip to the city. Coles’ first 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.
The 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