That Aussie icon, the jaffle iron, has a shorter history than you may think. It was invented in 1949 and was a coveted household item in the early 1950s. The original Jaffle brand jaffle iron was designed and patented by Dr Earnest Smithers of Bondi. So it’s all-Australian. He also invented the name – perhaps because it sounded a bit like waffle? More
Issued by the “manufacturers of AEROPHOS food phosphate raising ingredients” the Aerophos Recipe Book was a fixture in many Australian kitchens during the 1950s. The introduction states that “Cooking is the most important part of running a home, and…the housewife has ample opportunity of making her cooking an expression of her own individuality.” More
The Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Scheme was an ambitious engineering project to turn back the waters of rivers that flowed east from the Snowy Mountains and channel them inland for electricity generation and irrigation. In the post-WWII period, it attracted migrant workers, who helped to change food culture in Australia. The Snowy Mountains Scheme commemorative stamp was issued on the 50th anniversary, in 1999. More
Sunbeam can trace its Australian history back to 1902, when the American Chicago Flexible Shaft Company (later the Cooper Engineering Company) set up a business to make shearing equipment in Sydney. The company became Sunbeam in 1946 and the first appliance they made in Australia was the Sunbeam Mixmaster. This American-designed product became famous in Australia and around the world. The Sunbeam Mixmaster was considered essential equipment for preparing that Australian classic, the pavlova. Sunbeam became Australian-owned in 1987. More
Although the first Australian Vegetarian Society was founded in 1886, there is little evidence of its activities between 1900 and 1948. In that year, the Society was revived after a conference held under the auspices of the World League for the Protection of Animals. Its first newsletter was published in July 1948 at a cost of 6d.
FruChocs, now made by Robern Menz, are unique to South Australia. Originally produced by W. Menz & Co., biscuit and confectionery manufacturers, they have a chocolate coating over a dried apricot and peach centre. Unsuccessful attempts have been made to launch the product nationally, but they remain a cherished treat in their home state. More
During World War II almost every aspect of Australian life was under the control of the Federal Government, including wages, employment, manufacturing and prices. After the war, it took some time to unravel the regulations. In August 1945 the State premiers agreed that price control should continue, temporarily under Commonwealth control. The price control referendum in May 1948 asked Australians to determine whether the Federal Government should continue to determine prices for rents, food and other commodities. It was defeated. More
The first Holden was unveiled by Prime Minister Ben Chifley at the GM-H factory at Fishermans Bend on 29 November 1948. Readily available, affordable cars would change life in Australia and have a big influence on the way we shopped, opening the way for supermarkets with large car parks to replace the local grocery store. >National Museum of Australia
In a 1949 courtcase, a couple who claimed exclusive rights to sell ‘Pronto Pups’ sought to stop competitors from selling a similar product called the ‘Dagwood Dog’ at Sydney’s Royal Easter Show. The battered sausage on a stick was an American idea. Pronto Pups were introduced at the fairground in St Paul, Minnesota, in 1947, although ‘corny dogs’, which are essentially the same, are said to have originated at the Texas State Fair in 1938 (or maybe 1942, sources disagree). More
When Nescafé launched in Australia, it began the conversion of Australians from tea-drinkers to coffee drinkers. Coffee was associated with the new American-style glamour, tea with English conservatism, and instant coffee made coffee drinking convenient. A 2010 report indicated that instant coffee still accounted for about 80 per cent of all coffee consumed in the home. More
Australians love a good royal wedding. So when Princess Elizabeth married Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, Australian organisations were falling over each other to send gifts. Both the CWA and the Girl Guides zeroed in on the royal wedding cake. The Guides sent ingredients, the CWA a finished cake. Both were accepted, the finished products being among 11 or 12 cakes to make an appearance on the big day. More
In 1947, Change Over, the magazine published by the Ministry of Post War Reconstruction, reported on a group of ex-R.A.A.F. servicemen who formed a co-operative to operate a food store based on “the latest American practices in food marketing”. The sign on Australian Food Stores building proclaimed it to be a “super market”. However it had very little self service and high staffing levels. The dream was to open 30 such stores around Australia, but by mid-1948 the venture had failed and was in the hands of liquidators. More
By the mid-1940s, the pineapple industry was well established in Queensland. To provide marketing and financial stability, a cooperative was formed to finance the building of a cannery. Golden Circle Cannery was opened at Northgate in 1947. The company was originally called Queensland Tropical Fruit Products, using “Golden Circle” as a brand name. More
The iconic Four ‘n Twenty Pie was invented in Bendigo, Victoria by L.T. McClure in 1947. He started selling them at the Royal Melbourne Agricultural Show in 1949. Owing to increased demand he opened a bakery in a pavilion of the showgrounds, later moving to bigger premises. Australians eat more meat pies per capita than anyone else – on average more than 12 meat pies per year. The Four ‘n Twenty pie factory is the largest in the world, baking 50,000 pies an hour. More
The original Barossa Vintage Festival was a single event – a Thanksgiving Ball to celebrate the end of harvest and the end of WWII. It was conceived by Bill Seppelt of Seppelt Wines and Colin Gramp of Orlando Wines. Australia’s longest-running wine festival, it is held every two years and now has a week-long calendar of events including wine workshops, heritage events and, significantly, church services. The Barossa’s Lutheran leanings reflect its German heritage. More
In the Liquor Referendum on 15 February, voters were given the options of 6 o’clock, 9 o’clock or 10 o’clock closing. Of a total of 1,697,230 votes cast, 1,050,260 opted to leave closing time at 6 o’clock. In 1954, another referendum saw 10 o’clock closing approved by a narrow margin of 902,532 votes to 892,740.
Amidst the food rationing of the war years, imported quick frozen vegetables became available in Australia. The first Australian plant to process frozen vegetables was established in Sydney in 1944 by Reginald Cahill, one of the proprietors of Cahills’ restaurants. He had government support and initially the vegetables were shipped to soldiers. By 1946 they were being exported and beginning to be available to the domestic market.
From January 1944, meat coupons for adults could purchase an average of 2¼ lbs (just over 1 kg) of meat per week, depending on the cut. Children received half the adult ration. Meat rationing continued until 1948. Newspapers and magazines such as the Australian Women’s Weekly published many ‘austerity’ and meat-free recipes to help cooks work within the wartime rationing regime. More
Splayds are a combination of knife, fork and spoon. They were invented by William McArthur in Sydney, supposedly after seeing ladies struggle to eat at barbecues with standard cutlery, from plates on their laps. They were not mass marketed until 1962, when eating in front of the television had become commonplace. Splayds were popular as a wedding gift in the late 1960s and are still available in a range of sizes and finishes. More
Introduced around 1943, the F.R.E.D., a combination can opener, bottle opener and spoon, was included in military ration packs. Officially a Field Rations Eating Device, it was familiarly known as the “F**king Ridiculous Eating Device”. It may have been based on similar U.S. device called the P38, which lacked the refinements of spoon and bottle opener and was invented in 1942. Soldiers in both forces formed a fierce attachment to these devices, which were just as useful for cleaning your fingernails as opening a can, and protested at their removal from active service when new packaging was introduced. More
When the Japanese entered World War II and young Australian men joined the armed services or war industries, there was a shortage of agricultural workers. In response, the Women’s Land Army (AWLA) was formed in July 1942. The ‘Land Girls’ carried out tasks including vegetable and fruit growing, pig and poultry raising, dairying and sheep and wool work. More
A 54-page booklet titled Instructions for American Servicemen in Australia was produced for American forces stationed here during World War II. As well as general information about the country and its customs, the booklet made comments on Australian food. It highlighted the amount of meat Aussies ate, the amount of tea we drank and warned visiting Americans about 6 o’clock closing. More
Wartime beer rationing took the form of limits imposed on production. In March 1942 breweries were required to cut their output by one third to conserve grain supplies. Pubs were supplied with beer on a quota system and sometimes ran out altogether. In New South Wales, to help control consumption, pint glasses were eliminated from pubs. Later the same year, publicans were allowed to refuse to serve beer in schooners (16-oz glasses) except in the peak hours leading up to 6pm closing. More
To conserve food during WWII, rationing regulations were gazetted in May 1942 and food rationing began in June. Tea was the first commodity to be rationed, the allowance being 1/2 lb (226g) per adult per five weeks. In July, sugar was rationed, with every adult allowed 2 lb (900g) per fortnight. Australians were issued with identity cards and ration books. Food rationing did not end until 1950, with tea the last item to be rationed. More
During WWII, a combination of labour shortages, drought and the difficulty in importing goods led to the threat of food shortages. The ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign was launched by Prime Minister John Curtin in January 1942, with Australians encouraged to grow their own vegetables in Victory Gardens and raise chooks (or as they were officially referred to, ‘fowls’). Gardening groups and collectives were formed, with money made from the sale of the excess produce often going to support the war effort.
In a first step towards World War II food rationing, newspapers throughout Australia announced on 16 January that “The eating of beef as well as selling or buying it on a beefless day is prohibited in a formal order issued tonight by the Minister for War Organisation of Industry (Mr J. J. Dedman) to give effect to the Government’s decision to fix two beefless days weekly”. More
The discount supermarket chain, Franklins, was founded in 1941 in Sydney and went through many changes of ownership over the next six decades. After 2001, the chain only existed in New South Wales. In 2010, all Franklins stores were sold to Metcash for A$215 million, to become part of the IGA chain. The last Franklins Supermarket closed in 2015. More
Easy Ways to Good Meals: 99 Delicious Dishes Made With Campbell’s Soups popularised the tuna and noodle casserole made with a can of mushroom soup. The tuna casserole had various interpretations, and became a CWA (Country Women’s Association) classic in Australia. Convenience cookery relying on store-cupboard ingredients persisted for decades to come. More
The Oslo lunch, invented by the Norwegian Professor Schiotz, had been associated with improved child health and weight gain in Norway and Britain. When the Oslo lunch was introduced in some Victorian schools, children who ate this combination of a cheese and salad sandwich on whole meal bread, accompanied by milk and fruit, were shown to be healthier after six months. More
In October 1940, a group of soldiers rioted in Brisbane as authorities began strict enforcement of the 8 o’clock closing law for pubs. The rioters exchanged blows with police, disrupted tramways, smashed pub windows and marched the streets, chanting “Roll out the barrel. We want beer.” The beer riot continued for five hours bringing central Brisbane to a standstill. Some suggested that the failure of the army to provide “wet” canteens had contributed to the problem. More