The New Zealand Ice Cream Manufacturers Association
The New Zealand Ice Cream Manufacturers Association

1971 - 1990

A Trans-Tasman Tangle

The histories of the Australian and New Zealand ice cream industries are inextricably intertwined.

The balance of power between the two countries' ice cream and dairy industries has ebbed and flowed over the years, entrepreneurs have come and gone, and periodic intrusions by multinationals and international investment companies have only added to the complexity of the story.

Digging into the history of three brands, in particular, illustrates the trans-Tasman tangle of ownership and branding - Peters, Tip Top, and New American.

                                                                         - Peters Ice Cream.

1907 - An American, Fred Peters, started the Peters' American Delicacy Company, making ice cream bricks from a backyard shed in Manly, Sydney, Australia.

1927 - Peters' American Delicacy Company took over Arctic Ice Creams Ltd, Brisbane and set up a new company, Peters-Arctic Delicacy Co Ltd.

1929 - Peters purchased the Western Ice Company in Perth, Western Australia and established another new company, Peters' American Delicacy Company (W.A.), located at Roe & Milligan St's, Perth. The parent company put up about half of the funds and the other half was raised from the public. Peters also set up businesses in Rockhampton, Newcastle, and Townsville.

Each of these subsidiary companies developed independently of the original Peters company; although all selling the Peters brand:

                 Peters Ice Cream advertisement, 1929
                 - Trove.

Reports of Peters' successful expansion appeared in New Zealand newspapers:

Never before in the history of Australia has any company flotation been attended by the extraordinary results of the offer to the public of £200,000 £1 shares on account of Peters American Delicacy (Victoria), Limited, being formed to manufacture and market "Peters Ice Cream" in Victoria. The company is an off-shoot of a Sydney company, whose shares stand at a premium of over 200 per cent. There was an unprecedented rush for shares, giving rise to excited scenes reminiscent of the days of the gold and silver ''booms."
- NZ Herald, 17 July 1929.

1930 - Peters Ice Cream (NZ) Ltd was established in NZ.
Auckland Star, 8 December 1930:
"Peters Ice Cream Co. (N.Z) Ltd. Capital: £200, in 200 shares of £1 each. Subscribers: Auckland - F. H. Whitham, 199 shares; W. A. Berry, one share. Objects: Deal in ice cream, etc., and incidental."

Within a year, the capital had been increased to £10,000, in new shares. The name of the new business suggests that Peters Australia had some involvement. They may have made some initial investment in the company, or may have licenced it to use the Peters brand, and perhaps provided some technical input, requiring payment of royalties back to Australia.

1936 - Tip Top Ice Cream Company Ltd was established in Wellington, NZ, by Len Malaghan and Bert Hayman.

                       Peters Ice Cream (NZ) Ltd refrigerated ice cream delivery truck, 1937.

1938 - Tip Top Ice Cream Company (Auckland) Ltd was established in Auckland, NZ. Bert Hayman ran this business independently of the Wellington company.

1942 - the New American Milk Bar was established in Newmarket, Auckland, corner of Teed St and Broadway. A small ice cream factory was set up behind the Milk Bar - the plant is said to have been supplied by US Armed Forces for the provision of decent quality ice cream to American GI's based in Auckland.

The Peters Ice Cream (NZ) factory was at that time located just a few doors away, at number 10 Teed St, Newmarket.

1948 - Peters' Perth business became Peters Ice Cream (WA) Ltd, holding rights to the Peters brand for the State of Western Australia.

1950 - Toppa Ice Cream Ltd was registered in Melbourne, Australia, with major shareholder Tip Top Ice Cream Co (Auckland) Ltd. Chairman was Mr A.E. (Bert) Hayman. The company was later re-named Toppa Holdings Ltd.

1952 - Peters Ice Cream Co. (NZ) Ltd was purchased by Tip Top Ice Cream Co (Auckland) Ltd. Both Tip Top companies were very successful and expanded aggressively through the 50s and 60s. The Auckland operation in particular absorbed many smaller competitors.

                 Toppa refrigerated delivery truck, 1955. Built by McAlpine Refrigeration, Auckland.
 - The Frostee Digest, NZICMA archives.

1960 - Tip Top Ice Cream Co (Auckland) Ltd and Tip Top Ice Cream Company Ltd merged to form a new company, General Foods Corporation (New Zealand).

1962 - Peters (WA) purchased Brownes Dairy Ltd. The merged company became Peters & Browne's.

1967 - Toppa Holdings Ltd (Melbourne) was taken over by British Tobacco Co. (Australia) Ltd.

1968 - Watties, the major food processing company in New Zealand, acquired total control of General Foods Corporation (NZ) Ltd, including Tip Top.

1969 - Peters NSW was swallowed back up by the original parent company, now called Petersville Australia Ltd, and based in Melbourne.

1972 - The Toppa ice cream business was sold by British Tobacco to Brisbane-based QUF (previously Queensland United Foods, the company that back in 1927 was named Peters-Arctic Delicacy Co. Ltd!!).

1977 - Two ex-Tip Top employees, Murray Taylor and Russell Bond, purchased what was now New American Ice Cream, the factory still on the site of the original Milk Bar. After 12 months they moved into a larger factory in Khyber Pass, Newmarket.

1980 - QUF and Petersville Australia merged their ice cream divisions into a joint venture, Peters Ice Cream, which held the rights to the Peters brand for all of Australia except WA.

1986 - New American Ice Cream became a subsidiary of United Dairy Foods Ltd, with a major share held by NZ Co-operative Dairy Company Ltd (NZCDC), New Zealand's largest dairy company at the time.

UDF built a large, state-of-the-art ice cream factory in Otahuhu, and also operated factories in Tokomaru and Invercargill, with contract manufacturing in Christchurch.

1987 - The Wattie's group of companies (including Tip Top) was sold to Goodman Fielder, forming Goodman Fielder Wattie.

1988 - Peters Ice Cream was taken over by Adelaide Steamship Company (AdSteam).

1991 - Peters Ice Cream was purchased by Pacific Dunlop.

1992 - Goodman Fielder sold the Wattie's group (including Tip Top) to Heinz.

1995 - Peters Ice Cream was purchased by Nestle.

1996 - Heinz (Tip Top) purchased most of the assets of New American Ice Cream Ltd.

April 1997 - Peters & Browne's purchased Tip Top from Heinz.

Peters & Browne's now owned all three brands - Tip Top, Peters (in WA, and in NZ if they wanted to use it), and New American. The business began rationalising production across its Auckland, Perth and Christchurch plants, for supply of the Australian and NZ markets, and for export.

It was probably the need for products that could be sold in both markets that led to the hybrid Peters New American brand ice cream around this time:

                                                     Peters New American Slime Time 2 litre label, late 1990s.
                                                     - Steve Williams.

1999 - Kiwi Co-operative Dairies (New Zealand's second-largest dairy company) took a 51.6% shareholding in Peters & Browne's. Kiwi now controlled the Tip Top and New American brands (in NZ & Australia), and Peters brand (in WA & NZ). The Tip Top ice cream business became part of Kiwi’s Mainland group of companies.

June 2001 - The 'mega-merger' of Kiwi, NZ Co-op Dairy Co. and the NZ Dairy Board formed a huge new dairy company, Fonterra. Fonterra inherited the ice cream businesses and brands; Tip Top, New Americanand Peters (WA and NZ).

The New American brand was gradually phased out over the next few years.

2009 - Fonterra sold the Peters WA ice cream business to Nestle.

Nestle, through Peters Ice Cream, now controlled the Peters brand for the whole of Australia.

Fonterra retained the Tip Top ice cream business within its Fonterra Brands division.

2012 - Nestle sold Peters Ice Cream to Pacific Equity Partners.

2014 - Peters Ice Cream was purchased by Europe-based R&R Ice Cream.

Acknowledgements, references and related sites:

Street, Edwin (Ted) (1891–1975), by Stephen Garton, Australian Dictionary of Biography

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

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

Paul Marra.

Trove - digitised newpapers (Australia)

BackBack to Ice Cream Brands from the Past.


It seems to be a forgotten part of New Zealand's ice cream history, the 1950 launch of Tip Top ice cream into Australia.

The only problem was that the Tip Top brand was not available, registered to George Weston, a major Australian miller and bread baker.

"Toppa" ice cream was very successful however, becoming one of the three main ice cream players in the State of Victoria.

Toppa Ice Cream Ltd, which was registered in Melbourne yesterday, will issue 440,000 ordinary 5/- shares to the public. The new company is sponsored by the Tip Top Ice Cream Co (Auckland) Ltd., claimed to be the largest of its kind in New Zealand. The New Zealand company is to subscribe £30 000 in 120,000 ordinary 5/- shares. Vendor's consideration is £10,000.
- Sydney Morning Herald, December 2, 1950

By 1952 Tip Top Auckland had only a one-third shareholding, and business was going well - in 1953 Toppa purchased Polar Products Ltd of Geelong.

Toppy Toppa, 1952. He/she bears a very close family resemblance to "Daisy", used in Tip Top's New Zealand advertising around the same time.
- Symbols of Australia by Mimmo Cozzolino and Fysh Rutherford.

Toppa Ice Cream Pty Ltd operated a factory at 155 Capel St, North Melbourne.

Toppa ice cream carton, 1950s.
- Ephemera Society of Australia Inc.

1960 - Toppa took over Lifeguard Milk.

The company was responsible for introducing favourites such as Toppa Woppa, Toppa Trumpet, and X29 stick novelties.

Toppa ice cream TV commercial, 1961.
- conniptions886, YouTube.

1962 - Toppa Holdings purchased Noon Pies Pty Ltd.

By 1964 Toppa Holdings was reporting record profits for the eightth successive year, and the Toppa brand was licenced to Tasmanian Ice Cream Co. Pty Ltd.

Toppa ice cream sign, 1960s.

1964 - Toppa moved to a new factory in Bell St., Preston

1967 - Toppa Holdings was taken over by British Tobacco Co. (Australia) Ltd

1972 - the Toppa brand and ice cream business was sold to Brisbane-based QUF, which in 1980 merged with Petersville to form Peters Ice Cream.

Toppa ice cream has survived in various forms over the years, apparently a secondary brand for Peters Ice Cream, and can still be seen in some Australian supermarkets:

Help Us Tell the Story

                         - Ephemera Society of Australia Inc.

If you can fill in any gaps in our history of Toppa Ice Cream, please drop us a line:


Edwin (Ted) Street (1891-1975) began making ice cream from his grocer's shop in Corrimal, New South Wales, Australia. Streets Ice Cream Ltd was registered in 1934. In 1939 Streets set up a distribution depot at Bexley in Sydney, and in 1946 the company established a factory at Turella, Sydney.

The same year, Streets brought out their first popular stick ice-cream, 'The Heart'.

The famous 'Paddle Pop' was launched in 1953, a chocolate-flavoured milk ice on a stick costing 3d, developed by Ted's nephew Ron.

Early Streets Paddle Pop poster.
- The Daily Telegraph.

1953 was also the year that the business was listed as a public company, with Ted Street as managing director. The business boomed, and provided great competition to the rival Peters brand.

In 1960 Street sold the business to Unilever Australia Pty Ltd for nearly £4 million.

Instead of launching their own international Wall's ice cream brand in Australia, Unilever retained the popular Streets brand, modifying the logo to follow the Wall's "look":

In multinational Unilever's hands Streets became a market leader in the 1960s, pioneering such household names as Gaytime (1959), Splice (1962), Cornetto (1966), Blue Ribbon (1968) and Magnum (1992).

Unilever had launched its Wall's ice cream brand in New Zealand in 1967, but sold the brand and business to Rangitaiki Plains Dairy Company in 1975. RPD in turn sold the ice cream business and Wall's brand rights to Wattie's Group (which included Tip Top Ice Cream) possibly in 1980. Tip Top allowed the Wall's brand to lapse.

Somewhere around the time of the demise of the Wall's brand (mid- to late-1980s?), Unilever began importing Streets ice cream and novelties into New Zealand from Australia.

Over the past 30 years, Streets products have become household names on this side of the Tasman as well - Magnum, Paddle Pop, Blue Ribbon, Cornetto, Calippo, Bubble’o’Bill and Fruttare.

All Streets products are imported, none are manufactured in New Zealand.

Copyright © The New Zealand Ice Cream Manufacturers Association (Inc.)
PO Box 9364, Wellington,
Telephone +64 4 385 1410.
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