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

1971 - 1990


Perfection Ice Cream Co. (Ltd) was registered in Christchurch on 17 September 1926, with premises and factory at 300-304 Manchester Street. Shares were owned by W.S. "Bill" Callick and D. Mitchell.

They may well have regretted choosing this address, as within a year, their neighbour, a Mr and Mrs Hawke, had taken them to court twice, the first time claiming "they had lost sleep and been caused annoyance by the noise and vibration of the machinery", the second time for a dispute over builder's access down an alleyway between their house and the factory. In the second case, Perfection's builder, a Mr Mulholland was the unfortunate target of Mrs Hawke's wrath, "airing her grievances by heaving bricks, threatening with garden forks and unburdening herself of offensive epithets".

The Court ruled against the Hawke's, and they were fined £2 and costs.

In December 1926, Perfection advertised themselves as "Sole Suppliers 'Eskimo Pies' ", so they must have held the manufacturing licence for Christchurch.

                Photo: Perfection Ice Cream Co.staff, ca. 1932.
                - Laurie Kench, via Owen Norton collection.

Perfection Ice Cream Company Ltd was registered as a private company in October 1927.

In 1929, Perfection was involved in a three-way merger, instigated by the Tai Tapu Dairy Co., and also involving the Christchurch wholesale ice cream manufacturing plant and factory of W. R. Cooke & Sons Ltd, a national chain of tea rooms. This followed a visit to the U.S.A. by Tai Tapu's Secretary, Mr Charles P Agar, who had decided that the company should enter the ice cream manufacturing business,. Tai Tapu first took over W.R. Cooke, and then the resulting company took over Perfection.

The new business retained the Perfection name, Agar became Chairman of Directors, and a £32,000 expansion and upgrade of the Perfection factory began.

At this time, Perfection had a manufacturing capacity of 1000 gallons per day, a fleet of seven delivery vehicles, and distributed as far afield as Cheviot, Timaru, Greymouth and Hokitika.

21 December 1929: The Perfection IceCream Company is buying its cream supplies direct from the farmers. These must survive a test of 40 per cent, butter fat, or prove at least equal in standard to the quality supplied for table consumption. With the other ingredients it is put through a pasteuriser and passes to a homogeniser or viscoliser, which, with a pressure of 25001b to the square inch, emulsifies the fat globules, making a smooth product. This is then pumped over a-direct expansion cooler, and its temperature reduced to a few degrees above freezing point. It gravitates then into glass-lined ageing vats, where it remains for 36 to 48 hoars for the ripening process. From there it gravitates into churns and finally into cans. An inspection of the new plant was made yesterday by Mr C. P. Agar (chairman) and other members of the Board of Directors.

                Photo: The Perfection Ice Cream Co. factory, 300 Manchester St., Christchurch, ca. 1932.
                - Laurie Kench, via Owen Norton collection.

                Perfection Ice Cream advertising sign, with cat, 1940s?
- Laurie Kench, via Owen Norton collection.

                Laurie Kench with Perfection Ice Cream truck, 1940s?
- Laurie Kench, via Owen Norton collection.

During WWII a 50 person capacity air raid trench was installed in the factory by Christchurch architecture firm Trengrove and Blunt.

                Photo: Filling Sixpenny Cartons at the Perfection Ice Cream Co. factory, October 1945.
                Caption: left - Hank, Phyllis Pullan; right - Laurie Kench, Maurie Marsh, Ray Sykes.
                - Laurie Kench, via Owen Norton collection.

                Cinema advertisement (glass slide) for Perfection Sixpenny Cartons, circa 1950.
                - David Peterson.

                Photo: The Perfection Ice Cream Co. factory, 1953.
                - Laurie Kench, via Owen Norton collection.

                Perfection Bomb stick novelty wrapper, 1950s?
                - Serendipity Antiques, Timaru.

                Perfection Ice Cream Co. Ltd letterhead, 1956.
                - Owen Norton collection.

The Chairman of Perfection Ice Cream Co., Charles Agar (an ex-Deputy Mayor of Christchurch, and ex-President of the Chamber of Commerce), was also Chairman of the business that had the local dealership for British Bedford trucks - hence Perfection's all-Bedford fleet:

Photo: Perfection Ice Cream delivery fleet, late 1950s.
- Laurie Kench, via Owen Norton collection.

                Cinema advertisement (glass slide) for Perfection Ice Cream, circa 1960.
                - Wil Wright, The Film Poster Gallery.

                 Sander's Milk Bar, Main North Road, Papanui, Christchurch, ca. 1960. David O'Malley.
                 - Kete Christchurch. Sanders Milk Bar.

                 Perfection Ice Cream Co. Joy Bar newspaper advertisement, 1961.
                 - Tip Top archives.

                 Perfection Ice Cream sign, ca. 1960. Firth Signs Ltd.
                 - Kirstine Thompson.

                 Ice cream truck, Perfection Ice Cream Co. Ltd, Christchurch, 1965
                 - Kete Christchurch.

Gaytime appears to have been a collaborative effort by several regional manufacturers to establish a national brand and presence in the stick novelty market.

Perfection Ice Cream in Christchurch, Frozen Products Ltd in Wellington and Eldora, Auckland all produced Gaytime, possibly others.

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

The Gaytime Goldmine stick novelty was launched in 1964, with a catchy radio jingle sung by New Zealand's "Queen of the Mods," 1960s popstar Dinah Lee.

It is possible that the product and Gaytime name were under licence from Streets Ice Cream in Australia, who at that time were selling a biscuit crumb-coated, vanilla-and-toffee ice cream stick novelty called Golden Gaytime. By 1965, both Perfection and Eldora had been taken over by Tip Top, who kept the Gaytime brand alive until 1972.

Perfection was taken over by General Foods (Tip Top) around 1965. Perfection branded ice cream continued to be sold until 1969.

- Special thanks to Owen Norton for permission to reproduce the photos in this article from his collection.

Thanks also to Wil Wright of The Film Poster Gallery and to David Peterson for permission to reproduce the glass slide cinema advertisements.

Other references and related sites:

Kete Christchurch:

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

BackBack to Ice Cream Brands from the Past.

The Joy Bar

New Zealand's iconic Joy Bar was invented in Christchurch in 1948 by the clever people at the Perfection Ice Cream Company.

The original Perfection Joy Bar was a long rectangular bar of ice-cream, covered in chocolate, with a raspberry flavoured sauce through the middle.

The bar was packaged in a rectangular waxed cardboard box, with a strip of cardboard down one side, which allowed you to pull the ice-cream up, and out of the package, bite by bite.

Perfection Ice Cream Co. Joy Bar, 1961.
 - Tip Top archives.

After coming up with what they felt was a winning new product, the story goes that the management group couldn't decide on a name.

General Manager Frank Wright, Factory Manager Dennis 'Baldy' Amos, Sales Manager Laurie Kench, and ex-GM Bill Callick were mulling over the problem, when Frank's 12-year-old daughter Joy came in. They asked her what they should call the product and she said "Joy Bar"!

And the rest is history ...

The product was a huge hit, and when Tip Top took over Perfection Ice Cream Co. in the late '60s, they kept it going.

Although discontinued for several years, Tip Top re-launched the Joy Bar in 2006, as part of their 70th anniversary celebrations, and they are still on the market today.

In about 1938 my parents purchased 304 Manchester Street, which contained a grocery and fruiterer shop. It ran along the full length of the north side of the Perfection Ice Cream factory, and had three garages that opened out on to the land behind PIC, which had access to Salisbury Street. Next to where Baldy Amos lived.

I know not how, but I seemed to have free range within the factory.

I can remember:-

* Frank Wright, William Callick, Gussie Smith, Jim Scull
* very early on, working in the afternoons and being paid 5 pound a week. I suspect directly from Bill Callick's pocket.
* as a high school boy working full time in the school holidays, and the girls (probably Avonside GHS students) closing and incorporating a wooden spoon in threepenny and sixpenny cartons of ice cream, which I then put into boxes, and then into the adjacent freezer
* helping Baldy Amos on the weekends checking that the trucks were freezing, and freezer temperatures
* helping Jim Scull fill jackets with cans of ice cream for dispatch via Midland or Newman's bus lines
* melting the 14lb bars of chocolate with cocoa butter to make the mix in which the chocolate bombs were dipped
* filling the holder with wooden sticks from an automatic filler machine and then putting these into the moulds already filled with ice-cream, and then putting these moulds into the brine tank, which moved them through a tunnel to then be removed, put into a drying/chilling tunnel, before being dipped into the chocolate, and then being chilled again.
* helping Bert Porter in the churn area, filling cans, and dismantling and cleaning the churns at the end of production
* the engine room
* the new offices with underfloor cork insulation and hot water heating, and Italian tile exterior
* the artesian well in the NE corner of the factory
* the trucks at night, all lined up in the driveway right through the factory and hitched up to the ammonia freezing system
* the laboratory next to the staff room
* Mum's hand beater being borrowed to make what I understood was the first ice cream cake made in NZ. Whipped cream with icing sugar and cochineal spread over the round cake and then decorated with rosette piping and 'Merry Xmas'. Kept frozen with dry ice overnight for transport to my Grandma's for Xmas Day.
* the construction of an air raid shelter in the land behind the factory during WWII (which after the war my father dismantled)
* as well as that, was the later installation of a massive International Harvester diesel generator that automatically started if the power cut
* a burglar who jumped down from the brick wall of the factory on to a small lawn by our back door.
* writing to Laurie Kench when he went overseas in WWII

- Graham Leeming.

Help Us Tell the Story

If you can fill in any gaps in our history of the Perfection Ice Cream Co., please drop us a line:

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