What are New Zealand’s longest running food brands

Publish Date
Friday, 19 April 2024, 3:08PM
Rachel Hunter in the Tip Top Trumpet icecream advertisement from the 1980s.

Rachel Hunter in the Tip Top Trumpet icecream advertisement from the 1980s.

Is a barbecue even a barbecue if there’s no Wattie’s Tomato Sauce? And who hasn’t pried apart a Shrewsbury biscuit to get at that prized strawberry filling or dunked a Gingernut in a cup of tea?

With so many of these pantry staples part of Kiwi kitchens, it’s easy to forget many of them are older than us.

New Zealand boasts several longstanding food brands that have been cherished by locals for generations. Some of the longest-running and most iconic food brands in New Zealand are embedded into our Kiwi consciousness – with many of the decades-old advertising jingles still known by heart today. Here we take a look at some of our longest-running food brands for a bite of nostalgia.

The Edmonds Cookery Book is a New Zealand cookbook essential.

Edmonds: 1879

Can you believe that Edmonds has been around since the late 1800s? A good majority of Kiwi households still have a copy of the iconic Edmonds Cookery Book, launched in 1930, and up to its 69th edition now, on their shelves today – and most certainly we all would’ve partaken of some of its goodies at a bake sale over the years.

It all started, though, with baking powder. In response to the poor quality of rising agents at the time, Thomas John Edmonds created a powder that was “sure to rise” – a phrase he uttered to a questioning customer in 1879 and what is to this day the brand’s trademark.

Today the Edmonds range of products has grown to include not only baking ingredients but flour, cake mixes and pastry and the Edmonds brand still typifies Kiwi home-style cooking and baking.

Sanitarium: 1901

Okay, yes, Sanitarium was originally founded in Australia, but it has an equally significant presence in New Zealand. In 1901 Sanitarium started making health foods in Christchurch and today it’s the nation’s largest health food company and 100 per cent New Zealand-owned.

There’s bound to be a Sanitarium product in most Kiwi kitchens (although some favourites have been discontinued recently). From its breakfast cereals, like Weet-Bix which has been around now for more than 90 years - sing it with me “Kiwi kids are Weet-Bix kids” - to Marmite and peanut butter (Sanitarium were the first to introduce New Zealand to peanut butter in 1901), breakfast just wouldn’t be the same without Sanitarium.

The wrapper of the original Jelly Tip, a piece of 1950s Kiwiana.

Tip Top: 1936

Tip Top is synonymous with ice cream in New Zealand. Established in 1936, Tip Top is known for its classic hokey pokey, chocolate and other ice cream flavours - and caused an uproar when it cancelled beloved Goody Goody Gumdrops tubs (don’t worry it’s back now but just in a new container).

The Topsy was its very first novelty ice cream on a stick and the magical Jelly Tip was born soon after in 1951. The Trumpet’s been around since the 1960s but is perhaps most well known for launching the career of the then 15-year-old Rachel Hunter, in her first modelling job in 1985. And who could forget The Popsicle Band, launched in the 70s, this was “the most refreshing band in the land” - they even recorded their own song, Straight Up in 2000.

Griffins Gingernuts are a Kiwi favourite. Photo / Lynda Forrest


Griffins: 1864

Griffins has been around since the late 1800s, created by flour and cocoa miller John Griffin. By the 1950s the brand was so beloved that when a fire destroyed the Griffins factory, the public banded together to help fund a new plant. And thank goodness because otherwise, we wouldn’t have Gingernuts, Milk Arrowroot, Super Wine, Vanilla Win and Round Wine biscuits to dunk in our tea. In the 90s some children’s favourites joined the line-up: namely, Chocolate Chippies, Shrewsburys, ToffeePops and Squiggles. And remember the Cookie Bear? His red and white polka-dotted bow tie and cheery demeanour were loved by kids, and big kids, across the nation.

Wattie’s: 1930s

Wattie’s, now owned by the Kraft Heinz group, is famous for its canned foods, sauces and frozen vegetables. The company has been operating in New Zealand since the 1930s and has given us Wattie’s Spaghetti and Baked Beans – always a tin in the pantry – and New Zealand’s favourite tomato sauce. From tinned corn to hash browns, Wattie’s is as Kiwi as it comes.

Whittaker’s: 1896

This family-owned chocolate manufacturer feels like a relatively modern addition to our chocolate scene but in fact has been producing chocolate bars and confectionery since 1896.

In the 1950s Maurice Whittaker created the original Peanut Slab, with the recipe still the same today. In the 1990s the classic 250g blocks were released.

These days Whittaker’s is celebrated for its delicious fun and innovative flavours, such as Jelly Tip and L&P - and commitment to quality. Quality so good that Nigella Lawson even put her weight behind it in a now-famed advertising campaign … hello, chocolate lovers.

All of these brands have become an integral part of New Zealand’s culinary landscape, offering familiar tastes and memories to generations of Kiwis.

This article was first published by the NZ Herald by Nikki Birrell and is republished here with permission.

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