The New Zealand Ice Cream Association
The New Zealand Ice Cream Association
1971 - 1990 Contents
1800 - 1910
1911 - 1930
1931 - 1950
1951 - 1970
1971 - 1990
1991 - 2010
2011 - now

The Dairy Industry Awakes

The '70s saw the emergence of a new player in the ice cream industry, a progressive co-operative dairy company swimming against the tide of dairy industry politics. It was the first dairy company foray into ice cream since the early 1950s, and once again it rang alarm bells amongst the ice cream manufacturers.

                                                  Creemee ice cream and Fiesta ice cream advertisement, 1972.
                                                  - Rod Dennis.

1972 - Fiesta and Creemee ice cream operations (Auckland) were purchased by Rangitaiki Plains Dairy Co. (RPD).

At the time, RPD was the country's third largest dairy company. The move was made in the interests of diversification, and vertical integration - a desire to add value to their dairy products. RPD also developed a range of frozen cheesecakes, using ice cream-related technology, and several other consumer products.

At the time there were also rumours that the huge multinational Nestle might enter the New Zealand ice cream market, and some felt it was time that the New Zealand dairy industry strengthened its position by investing in consumer brands.

Around 1974, RPD also purchased a Petone-based manufacturer, La Grande ice cream, and a fourth ice cream business, Olympia, a specialist Italian ice cream manufacturer in Melbourne, Australia.

1975 - The Wall's ice cream brand and two factories (Palmerston North and Papatoetoe) were purchased from multinational Unilever by Rangitaiki Plains Dairy Co. The Fiesta, Creemee and La Grande brands were, over time, discontinued and absorbed into the Wall's operation.

At this point, the dairy industry, in the form of RPD, had control of the country's second-largest ice cream business, with a full product range and national distribution.

Stick novelty ranges from this period include Apefruit, Crazy Joe, and Weirdos.

                                                  Wall's stick novelty production, late 1970s.
                                                  - Rod Dennis.

The mainstream dairy industry (ie., the NZ Dairy Board, the legislated whole-industry marketing arm, and NZCDC, the largest co-operative) was never comfortable with RPD striking out on its own, and when the company over-extended itself, there was no support on offer.

Around 1980, RPD sold the Wall's brand and ice cream business to Tip Top Ice Cream Co., and the dairy industry was no longer in the ice cream business.

Tip Top continued to market Wall's as a secondary brand for a few years, at least until 1988, and then allowed it to lapse.

The Rebirth of New American

- Murray Taylor and Russell Bond (both ex-Tip Top employees, technical and marketing respectively) went into business together and purchased a small ice cream factory behind a milk bar at 205 Broadway (cnr Teed St), Newmarket in Auckland.

This was the original New American Milk Bar and ice cream operation that had been set up during WWII to serve the thousands of American GI's stationed in Auckland.

Taylor Bond Ltd set about re-launching the brand as a serious contender in both bulk and take-home markets.

After 12 months they had out-grown the factory and moved to a larger one in Khyber Pass, Newmarket, and began to make novelties as well.

By 1984 the New American brand had grown to be a clear second in the market.

A new parent company, United Dairy Foods (UDF) was formed, with a significant shareholding from NZ Co-operative Dairy Co. (NZCDC), the country's largest dairy company.

United Dairy Foods built a brand new, state-of-the-art, export-certified ice cream factory at 50 Luke St., Otahuhu.

Timeline: the '70s and '80s

                 Photo: Greenlane Mik Bar, Auckland. Although taken in the early 1970s, the Tip Top
                 signage probably dates from the 1950s.
                 - Akaroa Collect.

                General Foods Corp. (N.Z.) Ltd. Wairoa Branch, 1970s
                - Tip Top archives.

1976 - New Zealand consumption of ice cream is reported to be 18 litres per capita.

1977 - Closure of the Peter Pan factory in Waipukurau and withdrawal of the company and the Denne family from the ice cream industry after 48 years. At one time, Peter Pan was said to be the third-largest ice cream manufacturer inNew Zealand.
More about Peter Pan at longwhitekid ...

                                                  Tip Top R2D2 novelty wrapper.
                                                  - Steve Williams.

1978 - Tip Top R2D2; New Zealand’s biggest ice cream block-buster, from Star Wars’ heyday.

1979 - Brian and Jeanette Simon, the original founders of Manda Ice Cream, launched a cold store business that soon became Deep South Ice Cream, at 122 Rockdale Road, Invercargill.

May 1979 - Without warning, Prime Minister (and Finance Minister) Rob Muldoon slapped a 20% sales tax on ice cream, the only foodstuff to be treated this way at the time. The industry felt singled out, as foods classified as" basic" were exempt, and as the tax coincided with price increases in sugar and butter.

The tax remained in place until 1986, when GST was introduced.

1984 - New American Ice Cream launches the legendary Goody Goody Gum Drops ice cream flavour. Other favourite New American flavours from this period included Chocolate Mud and Fish & Chips.

1984 - Cheesemaker Ross McCallum established Kapiti Cheeses (later Kapiti Fine Foods) at the Lindale tourist complex, Paraparaumu, and began producing premium gourmet ice cream.

                                                  Tip Top Trumpet poster, ca., 1991.
                                                  - Grocer's Review.

1985 - Supermodel Rachel Hunter appeared for the first time on television at 16 years of age in an advertisement for Tip Top Trumpet. The "You can't beat a Trumpet" TVC became a Kiwi classic and was recycled by Tip Top several times over the following decades.
Read more about the history of Trumpet TV ad's ...

1985 - the first New Zealand Natural Ice Cream premium ice cream parlour opens at Bondi Beach, Sydney.

New Zealand Natural began as a small ice cream business in Christchurch, New Zealand in 1984 that specialised in ice cream with no artificial colours or flavours. Entrepreneur Rael Polivnick met the owner on a flight and seeing the potential, purchased the rights to open a shop in Australia.

New Zealand Natural, now 100% owned by New Zealand-based Emerald Foods, has a network of over 700 branded outlets in 22 countries.

1985 - 1986 - With the imminent arrival of Closer Economic Relations (CER) with Australia, the NZICA Technical committee became actively involved in the harmonising of NZ and Australian food regulations and standards, in particular to protect the New Zealand industry from the importation of Australian ice cream manufactured to standards that allowed higher overrun (more air) and lower milk solids.

1989 - Tip Top's Johnsonville (Wellington) factory is closed down.

                                                                   New American Donald Duck wrapper, 1989.
                                                                    - Steve Williams.

1989 - Extruded ice cream novelty technology arrived, allowing new shapes on sticks - one of the first was Donald Duck, produced by New American Ice Cream.

                                     Cadbury Ice Cream Moro TV advert, 1990.
                                     - DragoonClawNZ1 channel, YouTube.

1990 - Cadbury Ice Cream Moro was launched, produced by New American Ice Cream. This was New Zealand's first branded confectionery bar to be reproduced in ice cream form.

1991 - 2010

1951 - 1970

Special thanks to Rod Dennis and Peter McCracken for their personal recollections of the RPD / Wall's era, and permission to reproduce the images above. Thanks also to Tanya Reid for her memories of New American.

Sources, references and related sites:

Archives New Zealand:

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography:

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

New Zealand Natural Premium Ice Cream

NZ Ice Cream Manufacturers Assn. archives.

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

The Wall's brand goes back to 1922, when Thomas Wall Ltd, a meat producer who had just been taken over by Lever Brothers Ltd, opened an ice cream factory in Acton, London.

The Wall's ice cream brand grew to be one of the largest in the UK, and with the expansion of the multinational Unilever empire, was taken to many countries around the world, including New Zealand.

Unilever already had significant investment in NZ with its Birds Eye frozen foods business when it purchased two ice cream factories from Fropax (N.Z.) Ltd (Vestey Group, vegetable and meat processors, Blue Star Line shipping), in 1966 - the Frosty Jack factory in Palmerston North, and the Meadow Gold factory in Papatoetoe, Auckland.

The Wall's 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) through Birds Eye Frozen Foods NZ Ltd.

Wall's Woppa poster, 1970s
- longwhitekid.

In 1975 the brand and both factories were purchased by Rangitaiki Plains Dairy Co., already owners of La Grande, Creemee and Fiesta ice cream operations. The Palmerston North plant was closed and Wall's production was carried out in the Penrose and Papatoetoe factories.

Wall's range, late 1970s
- Rod Dennis.

Stick novelty ranges from this period include Apefruit, Crazy Joe, Weirdos.

Wall's Crazy Joe Cherry Cola sticker, ca. 1980
- Steve Williams.

Wall's Weirdo poster, ca. 1979
- Chris Newey.

Around 1980, RPD sold the Wall's brand and ice cream business to Tip Top Ice Cream Co. Tip Top continued to market Wall's as a secondary brand until at least 1988, before retiring it.

Unilever continued its presence in the New Zealand ice cream market with it's Streets brand, imported from Australia.

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