1944 Wild’s Ezy-Sauce trademarked

Why the pyramids and the camel? No-one knows.

Not being one to make my own pickles and sauces, I had never heard about Wild’s Ezy-Sauce. Not until it disappeared. And then only because distraught fans began searching Google for a replacement recipe, making it Australia’s second-highest trending recipe search in 2022. Wild’s Ezy-Sauce is not actually a sauce. It’s an ingredient used to make other sauces and pickles and is, apparently, much prized by country cooks – the ones who enter their sauces, chutneys and pickled vegetables in local agricultural shows.

The ingredients of Wild’s Ezy-Sauce are given as water, Food Acid (260), Ground Black Pepper, Clove Oil and Chilli. The food acid is acetic acid, a component of vinegar. In concentrated form, it is corrosive to skin and needs to be handled with care. There’s a warning on the label:

THIS PRODUCT CONTAINS A CONCENTRATED ACID SOLUTION. USE ONLY IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE DIRECTIONS ON THIS LABEL. NEVER INGEST CONTENTS IN ITS CONCENTRATED FORM DIRECTLY FROM THE BOTTLE. AVOID CONTACT WITH EYES OR SKIN. KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN.

Stories about its invention vary somewhat. The one offered on the product’s website is that Ezy-Sauce was invented by a Mr T A Wild in 1944 in his premises at the Shamrock Hotel, Ararat, Victoria. This conjures up the image of a genial host cooking up something in his hotel kitchen. It’s not the case.

Another story, told by an Ararat resident to ABC Wimmera, is that her father had a boot repair shop next to a chemist in the town. The chemist shop belonged to T A Wild and she claimed to remember the smell as he was brewing up a batch in the shed behind the shop. This may be closer to the truth, as Tom Arthur Wild was, in fact, an Ararat chemist. However, he died in 1935. And eight years earlier he had handed the pharmacy business over to his son. It’s clear that if Wild’s Ezy-Sauce was invented by T A Wild, it happened before 1927.

Ezy-Sauce seems to have been first advertised nationally in 1941. So what happened in 1944? That was the year the Bendigo Preserving Company Limited trademarked the rather baffling label depicting a desert scene complete with pyramids and a camel. (This source says that it was the English company Cerebos that applied for the trademark, but the image on the page indicates otherwise.) At some point, the trade mark and, presumably, the recipe were acquired by Cerebos, which opened a factory in Melbourne in 1953.

The ownership of Cerebos changed in the early 21st century, with the Australian operations acquired by the Japanese company Suntory in 2012. In 2018, most of the Cerebos brands were sold to Kraft Heinz. Production of Wild’s Ezy-Sauce continued until early 2022 when Kraft Heinz announced that “due to operational challenges” the product would be discontinued. This provoked outrage and despair from cooks who had long relied on the product as an essential ingredient in their preserves. It also led to the desperate search for a way to duplicate the Ezy-Sauce at home.

The outcry apparently caused Kraft Heinz to have a good hard think. In August 2022 they notified stores that the pickling liquid would be returning to the shelves in time for the summer bottling season. At the time of writing (14 January 1923) it’s still being listed as “out of stock”. As the tomatoes ripen, all those sauce makers must be getting very tense indeed.

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