The New Zealand Ice Cream Association
The New Zealand Ice Cream Association
1951 - 1970 Contents
1800 - 1910
1911 - 1930
1931 - 1950
1951 - 1970
1971 - 1990
1991 - 2010
2010 - now

Technology & Scale

The introduction of continuous production machinery and concurrent advances in refrigeration and refrigerated transport during the 1950s and 60s enabled ice cream to be manufactured more economically, and on a larger scale. The new technology also meant ice cream could be distributed greater distances, and at lower cost, to the point that nation-wide distribution was possible.

                 Tip Top Ice Cream staff loading freshly-filled cans into a blast freezer, 1950's.
                 - Sparrow Industrial Pictures Ltd, Auckland War Memorial Museum online collection.
                 Ref. PH-NEG-SP-2914[i].

                 Denne's Peter Pan Ice Cream refrigerated truck, early 1950's.
                 - Knowledge Bank.

1951 - Tip Top (Auckland) took over Peters Ice Cream (NZ) Ltd, one of its larger competitors.

In 1953 the NZ Ice Cream Manufacturers' Association could claim 49 ice cream manufacturing companies as members. However many of those were small businesses, located in towns and cities across the country. They supplied their local areas and produced their product by batch methods. Product ranges were narrow, and marketing budgets small.

As the larger manufacturers became more efficient, and more powerful, many small producers either went out of business, merged, or were taken over by the larger companies.

Many of these manufacturers were absorbed into one or other of the two Tip Top Ice Cream companies (later General Foods Corporation), which gradually expanded their operations during the 50s and 60s to become by far the country's largest ice cream manufacturer.

It wasn't just the provinces that Tip Top had in its sights - in 1952 Tip Top Ice Cream Company (Auckland) Ltd, under Bert Hayman, launched a new ice cream business in Melbourne, Australia, Toppa Ice Cream Ltd.

The Toppa brand was very successful, and the company grew to be a major player in the Victorian and Tasmanian markets, operating until 1972.

Read more about the Toppa story here.

Tip Top Ice Cream steel advertising sign, early 1950s? Featuring "Daisy" the cone.
- Steve Williams.

With its greater economies of scale, Tip Top was able to invest in the technology to produce more sophisticated water ice and ice cream stick novelties. Some of the earliest were the Topsy (chocolate-coated vanilla ice cream on a stick), and the TT2 (flavoured water ice on a stick).

1951 - the classic Kiwi stick ice cream, the Jelly Tip is born. Creamy Tip Top vanilla ice cream on a stick, tipped with a raspberry flavoured jelly, and coated with chocolate, selling for sixpence.

1954 - Tip Top launches the Strawberry Toppa - vanilla ice cream on a stick, coated with a shell of strawberry water ice.

Food or Dairy Product?

One of the bitterest and longest-running arguments with government, which directly affected matters of supply and profitability, was the relationship between ice cream manufacturers and the dairy industry.

In the '20s and '30s, the ice cream industry had unsuccessfully argued to be treated by government as part of the dairy industry, and for ice cream factories to be registered as dairy factories.

By the 1950s, however, this had all changed, in part due to the formation of the Milk Marketing Board, and government efforts to nationalise the town milk industry.

In 1944 the Milk Act was passed which provided for the ice cream industry to buy surplus butterfat from the milk treatment stations at annually negotiated prices. A levy was put in place, and tight price controls. When rationing and consumer price control restrictions were lifted after the war, the ice cream manufacturers found themselves the only ones that had to pay the export realisation price for butterfat while other food manufacturers paid the ordinary (effectively subsidised) wholesale price.

                 McNivens ice cream cone and wafer advertisement, 1946.
                 - The Frostee Digest, NZICA archives.

1953 - Ice cream manufacturers were furious at the ongoing impasse with the government over regulatory control of town milk pricing - this meant that ice cream companies were charged 8d more per pound of butterfat than cheese or butter producers.

The Minister replied that while ice cream is a food stuff, it cannot be regarded as basic or essential, therefore did not qualify for the 'subsidy' - although biscuits, confectionary and pastry goods all apparently did. This debate raged on for another decade, and it was 1987 before the industry was no longer required to pay export realisation prices for butterfat.

1953 - There are reports in the press that Cheltenham Co-Op Dairy Company of Fielding is planning to purchase an ice cream operation - the first time a manufacturing dairy co-operative had ventured into the ice cream business. The move (which does not appear to have come to anything) created great concern amongst established ice cream producers because of the dairy industry's inherent advantages of raw material cost, supply and scale, and its tax-free status.

"Take-home" vs. "Bulk"

- During this year ice cream production reached 4 million gallons, or 15.36 pints per head of population, a 10% increase on the previous year. 2.36 million gallons (58%) was sold as "bulk" ice cream, ie., in large containers for scooping.

Bulk ice cream was filled into 1 gallon or 2 1/2 gallon cans, or larger, for distribution to dairies and milk bars, either scooped into cones (a pint produced seven to eight four-penny ice cream cones), or served in cups or on dishes.

                                  NZICA bulk (scoop) ice cream poster and guide to usage, early 1950s.
                                  - Owen Norton collection.

However there was now one domestic refrigerator in every two homes in New Zealandand the spread of refrigerators brought about a big change in the proportion of ice cream sold as traditional "bulk" ice cream, to more and more "take-home" ice cream.

Take-home ice cream was packaged at the factory, most commonly in waxed cardboard pint and quart packs, but also in half-pints, and "sixpenny bricks", for home consumption.

                                                  NZICA take home ice cream stand-up display card,
                                                  early 1950s.
                                                  - Owen Norton collection.

                 Wholesale and retail pricing for bulk, take-home and novelties, by region, 1954.
                 - The Frostee Digest, NZICA archives.

                 Snowdrop Ice Cream Co., Ashburton, 1955, with proprietor Mr Ian Paterson. Note
                 NZICA take-home display card in window.

                 - The Frostee Digest, NZICA archives.

The National Film Unit made a short feature film on ice cream manufacture following an industry radio campaign based on the theme 'Take Home Ice Cream - Take Home Health.'

Another successful radio advertising campaign which ran from 1957 to 1960 was based on the slogan "Meal Time is Ice Cream Time".

Leaflets were distributed widely to back up the radio adverts, which were fronted by Aunt Daisy (above). The campaign promoted ice cream at breakfast, lunch and dinner time.

1954 - The Food Hygiene Regulations were amended to allow 'composite shops', ie., those selling vegetables and other un-packaged foods, to also sell bulk ice cream, scooped on the premises.

Snowflake Uranium Ice Cream                                                 Snowflake Uranium Ice Cream advertisement, Grey River Argus,
                                                 23 November 1955
- Te Ara – The Encyclopedia of New Zealand.

1955 - another, potentially not-so-healthy ice cream marketing exercise was run by Westland Snowflake Ice Cream Ltd, when it advertised Uranium Ice Cream.

Listen to Owen Norton, former owner and Director of Westland Snowflake, explain the background, talking to Bryan Crump on Radio NZ National programme - Kete West Coast.

Burrell's Ice Cream advertised on Frost Bros.dairy and grocery, on the corner of Rangitikei and Featherston Streets., Palmerston North, 1955 (detail). Photo by Bruce Watt.
- Manawatu Heritage.

Ice cream packaging, ca. 1960
                                   Supreme Ice Cream advertisement, 1950s, from a recipe book published
                                  by the Wakari Branch of the Dunedin Free Kindergarten.
- Babette Kreyenhop.

In an unusual display of commercial openness, the Peerless Ice Cream company of Wanganui included a copy of a typical commercial ice cream recipe from the 1950's in one of their advertisements:

                                                 Peerless Ice Cream advertisement, 1950s.
                                                 Wanganui Free Kindergarten Assn. Recipe Book, via Massey family.

Gelatine (made from beef skin) was one of the most common commercial stabilisers used, with benefits of slowing ice crystal growth during storage, and giving the ice cream a very smooth texture, and clean flavour release.

Glycerol Monostearate (GMS), a derivative of tallow, was the typical commercial emulsifier used, helping the integration of milkfat and protein during processing, and also contributing to a smoother, better-keeping product.

Ice cream packaging, ca. 1960                  Ice cream packaging, late 1950s, Sparrow Industrial Pictures Ltd.
                  Bulk can (scooping pack), top left.
                  Brands (clockwise from top): Rob Roy, Clarke's, Hostess, Bar-Lo-Bar (Barlows?),
                  New American, Aurora, Tui, Super Cold, Havmor, Tip Top.
- Auckland Museum.

From an advertisement for "The new Lily Ice Cream Tub", 1958. Manufactured in N.Z. by Carton Specialties, distributed by Frank M. Winstone Ltd. Branded tubs include Alpine, Byers, Dennes', McDonald's, CreamCraft, Super Cold, Wise's, Burrells, Peter Pan, Eldora, Frosty Jack, Meadow Gold and Tip Top.
- Frostee Digest.

1954 - Coker & Mills Ice Cream was established in a factory that was originally a malthouse for a brewery, in Dodson St, Blenheim.

By 1955, the ice cream unit used for the NZ consumers price index (CPI) basket of goods and services was changed to a pint block (568mls), which was valued at 20 pence ($3.65 in today's terms).

The Blue Moon Dairy and ice cream garden, Hastings, late 1950s.
- Chris Beall - Hawke's Bay Today.

                                                  Crystal Ice Cream (Dunedin) sign.
- dt.

Peter Pan ice cream delivery, Morere Hot Springs Tearooms, around 1960.
- transpress nz.

New Food Regulations

- Regulations were introduced for the Control of Over-Run in Ice Cream, over-run (increase in volume due to the addition of air during the whipping process) to not exceed 100%, measured by weight of solids per gallon.

August 1961 - A new ice cream standard was set - a return to a minimum butterfat content of 10%, and the use of any fat other than milk fat was prohibited.

Tip Top Corner

- The Wellington and Auckland Tip Top ice cream businesses merged to form a new company, General Foods Corporation (New Zealand), with Len Malaghan as Managing Director.

                                                           Tip Top Half-Gallon can lid, 1960s.
                                                           - jake1987.

In 1962, Tip Top Ice Cream Company built what was at the time the Southern Hemisphere's largest and most advanced ice cream factory, costing NZ$700,000.

                 Photo: Prime Minister Keith Holyoake (right) with iceblock
                 - Tip Top archives.

Prime Minister Keith Holyoake attended the opening ceremony. The Tip Top factory included staff houses and 20 acres of farm land overlooking Auckland’s Southern motorway.

Over time, the Tip Top factory became a New Zealand landmark, known to generations as ‘Tip Top Corner’.

1963 - The Simon family opened the Manda ice cream business, with a factory in Leet St., Invercargill.

1964 - Tip Top launched the Tip Top Trumpet, its version of the European cornetto-style, waffle-coned ice cream sundae with nuts and chocolate. The original Trumpet sold for 1 shilling (1/-), and came with an extensive advertising campaign, including one of our very early TV advertisements.

More about the very first Tip Top Trumpet.

                 Gaytime Ice Cream advertisement (manufactured by Perfection Ice Cream Co.)
                 From a New Zealand Opera Company programme, 1967
                 - Darian Zam.

1966 - Multinational Unilever, already well established in New Zealand with its Birds Eye Frozen Foods operation, purchased two ice cream factories from Fropax (N.Z.) Ltd (Vestey Group, vegetable and meat processors, Blue Star Line shipping) - the Frosty Jack factory in Palmerston North, and the Meadow Gold factory in Papatoetoe, Auckland.

The Wall's ice cream brand was launched, with national distribution of take-home ice cream, and a full range of stick and cone novelties (Woppa, Splice, Lickity Stix, Nutty Choca, Torpedo, Tornado).

                 Wall's bulk ice cream filling, Palmerston North, January 1968.
                  Elmar Studios.
                  - Manawatu Heritage - Ian Matheson City Archives

1968 - Tip Top opened its new South Island ice cream factory in Christchurch, on Blenheim Road.

Treats on Sticks

The marketing of novelties, along with take-home ice cream, required more imaginative presentation, shapes, flavours, packaging, labelling, and of course, names.

1957 - The annual conference of the NZICA notes "phenomenal growth in the ice lolly trade".

In the 60s, a profusion of stick novelties appeared, with product innovation and marketing efforts spurred on by the licensing of characters and imagery from popular cartoons, movies and television programmes.

                 Apex Ice Cream Co. (Christchurch) point-of-sale marketing material, 1960s
                 - Owen Norton collection, via Shona McCahon.

                 Seven-lane Gram stick novelty machine, Tip Top Mt Wellington factory, 1964.
                 Still from the documentary film, "All About Ice Cream", Robert Steele Productions.
                  - Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

                 Gram stick novelty machine, Wall's, Palmerston North, January 1968.
                  Elmar Studios.
                  - Manawatu Heritage - Ian Matheson City Archives

Newjoy Ice Cream menu board                                                          Wall's King Kong frozen stick novelty television
                                                          commercial, 1968
- The Film Archive.

Tip Top Moggy Man animated TV advertisement, 1970
- Archives NZ

Newjoy Ice Cream menu board                                                           Tip Top TT2 Moonraider poster, late 1960s
- Tip Top archives.

1971 - 1990

1931 - 1950

Sources, references and related sites:

Archives New Zealand:

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography:

Kete West Coast

Knowledge Bank - Hawke's Bay Digital Archives Trust

Longwhitekid - history of Peter Pan, Tip Top, Meadow Gold, Wall's, Hokey Pokey, and much more:

Massey family collection.

Nga Taonga Sound & Vision.

NZ Ice Cream Manufacturers Assn. archives, and "Frostee Digest" journals, 1943-1972.

Papers Past (National Library of New Zealand digitised newspapers database):

NZ Ice Cream Manufacturers Assn. archives, and "Frostee Digest" journals, 1943-1972.

New Zealand Ice Cream Manufacturers' Association (NZICA) Oral History Project; held at NZICA archives and Alexander Turnbull Library.
- Shona McCahon, Oral historian.

Tip Top Ice Cream Co. archives:

BackBack to The History of Ice Cream in New Zealand
            Brands from the Past

A large number of small, regional ice cream manufacturers were victims of takeovers and growing competition from larger companies in the '50s and '60s.

Ice cream brands that disappeared during this period include many magical names from the past:

Apex (Christchurch), Aurora (New Plymouth), Barlow's (Te Aroha), Bell's, Betta, Blue Moon (Hastings), Byers (Palmerston North), Clarke's (Petone), Coker & Mills (Blenheim), Cooke's (Auckland), Crystal (Dunedin), Eldora (Auckland), Frosty Jack (Wellington), Gates' (Wellington), Gaytime (Auckland), Glacier, Hart's (Auckland), Mays (Auckland), McDonald's (Hamilton, Palmerston North, Auckland), Meadow Gold (Auckland), Newells, Newjoy (Dunedin), Perfection (Christchurch), Peters (Auckland), Reale (Dunedin), Righton's (Whakatane), Robinson's (Auckland), Rosco (Hamilton), Royal (Dunedin), Snowdrop (Ashburton), Snowflake (Auckland), and Sunshine (Nelson).

See our full list of Ice Cream Brands From The Past:
More ...

       Hokey Pokey Ice Cream

Who invented Hokey Pokey ice cream? There are several stories, and a lot of speculation.

One story says that Hokey Pokey was first sold as a commercial ice cream flavour by the Meadow Gold Ice Cream Company of Papatoetoe in the 1940s. Except that we don't believe the company existed until the mid-'50s!

Another says that Tip Top Ice Cream Co. (Auckland) was the first to make it, around the same time, although again, the story is not well documented, and anyway, sugar rationing raises serious doubts that a product like this could have been launched during the war years.

A third story has Peter Pan Ice Cream in Waipukurau making the first Hokey Pokey ice cream in the mid '50s.

However by far the strongest claim for "invention" of the flavour is made by ice cream industry legend, Brian Simon.

In a 2010 interview with Radio NZ, he recalls making the first Hokey Pokey ice cream at Dunedin's Newjoy Ice Cream Co. in 1953, using broken Crunchie Bar pieces from the Cadbury Fry Hudson factory just down the street (Brian at 00:15:45):

This version also reinforces the historical claim that Dunedin is the "home" of Hokey Pokey.

Since 1868, Dunedin had been home to the very successful Hudson & Co. biscuit and confectionery company.

As early as 1892 a Christchurch confectioner, Edward Hill, was making a confectionery product called Hokey Pokey, as advertised in the South Canterbury Times and Timaru Herald, sold “one penny a lump”. Hill had spent eight years working on the steam pans at Hudsons in Dunedin before leaving to set up his own business, so it's possible that he learned how to make Hokey Pokey, or something like it, at Hudsons.

However, a New Zealand patent lodged in 1896 is the earliest definitive proof that we have of the name 'hokey pokey' being used in this country for the confectionery product that we also know as honeycomb toffee or cinder toffee.

On 14 March 1896 a handwritten application for the patent of a recipe, the invention for a confection to be known as Hokey Pokey, was lodged by William Hatton, a manufacturing confectioner from Caversham, Dunedin, at the New Zealand Patent Office.

He submitted his application under the Patents, Designs, and Trademarks Act 1889, along with a detailed recipe for producing “Hokey Pokey” from a mixture of sugar, glucose, water, and baking soda.

Whether Hudson & Co. already had Hokey Pokey in its product range, or whether at some point it acquired Hatton's business, or his skills, or just his recipe, we're not sure.

By 1930, Hudson became Cadbury Fry Hudson, and by 1953 the company was making Crunchie Bars in Dunedin, and that was when Newjoy started to put broken pieces of Hokey Pokey into ice cream.

Read more about Brian Simon and Newjoy ice cream ...

Read more about the Hokey Pokey legend at longwhitekid ...

Whoever invented it, the love affair has gone on for at least 50 years now.

Where else in the world would they give an ice cream flavour its own postage stamp?

As much a part of our summer as pohutukawa, jandals, and L&P, Hokey Pokey ice cream has become a Kiwi cultural icon.

Crunchy, gooey honey-comb toffee pieces in vanilla ice cream, a taste experience all of its own.

Much Moore Hokey Pokey Ice Cream, winner of the special "Best of Hokey Pokey" category at the 2012 NZ Ice Cream Awards.


Manda Vanilla ice cream 3 pint label.
 - Simon family collection.

1963 - ca. 1980

Brian Simon grew up in the ice cream business, working in his father's Newjoy Ice Cream factory in Dunedin, After his father sold up, he spent a few years farming, then, in 1963, he purchased an old laundry in Leet St. Invercargill ...
More ...

                             The first
     Tip Top Trumpet TV ad'

21 years before that famous "VW Beetle" ad, the first-ever Tip Top Trumpet TV advert starred another soon-to-be-famous Kiwi.

Read more about the first Trumpet ad' ...

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