Boiling fruit and sugar to make jam was originally a home-based activity using surplus summer fruit. Commercially-made jam, sold in cans and jars from 1880, gradually took over. The most popular flavours became berry fruit and plum.
Oak jam was founded by Thompson and Hills in Auckland in 1897. James Wattie began his successful food processing company in Hastings in 1934. By 1964, Wattie’s had absorbed Thompson and Hills and other jam-making companies. The Oak brand was retained by Wattie’s.
Marmite is a savoury yeast extract, formed as a by-product of beer brewing. Originally from England, it was distributed by Sanitarium in New Zealand, who later began making it under licence in Christchurch. In the 1930s the flavour was altered and sugar was added. After 1923 New Zealand Marmite competed with Vegemite, an Australian spread, for popularity. Families often had a strong preference for one or the other.
For breakfast in 1851 people might have been served mutton and bread. By 1890 porridge (cooked rolled oats), introduced by Scottish immigrants, was common. A milled, pre-cooked product called Creamoata, or ‘one minute porridge’, was introduced by Flemings of Gore in 1920 and became very popular. Images of ‘Sergeant Dan the Creamoata man’ were printed on the bottom of cereal bowls, and on spoons, to encourage children to eat up all their breakfast and see his picture. Flemings was bought by Goodman Fielder in 2006 and the factory was closed.
In 1987 Owen and Kay Pope started selling jam from their raspberry farm at a market stall in Nelson. They filled a niche for a high-quality product as good as home-made jam. Barker’s Fruit bought the business and in 2007 they moved production to their factory in Geraldine, where they processed 1,000 tonnes of locally-grown fruit per year.
American-styled pre-prepared breakfast cereals eaten with cold milk were quicker to make than porridge. By the 1920s cornflakes, puffed rice and wheat, and Weet-Bix were all available. Swiss muesli was popular from the 1970s.
American Edward Halsey began making breakfast foods for psychiatric patients in Christchurch in 1900. His Seventh Day Adventist beliefs supported the health benefits of a whole-food diet. Demand grew and his products were sold in the first health food shops in New Zealand. The original manufacturer of Weet-Bix was bought by Sanitarium in 1930. In the early 2000s Sanitarium had factories in Auckland and Christchurch. Its nationally owned businesses in Australia and New Zealand made over 150 products and employed around 1,700 people.
In 1998, to celebrate Hubbards’ tenth anniversary, all the staff were taken on a picnic – to Samoa.
Dick Hubbard began making breakfast cereals in 1988, with an initial staff of five. His independent company, founded on sustainable production principles, grew and in the early 2000s employed 150 staff at its factory in Māngere, Auckland.