The New Zealand Apple Song

In 1940 New Zealand was drowning in apples. The war meant export orders could not be shipped, so there were a million cases of excess export apples to be eaten domestically.

The power of commercial radio was enlisted and this song, written by Ivan Perrin, was the winner in a nationwide contest to find a song to promote apples – an early example of the power of a catchy jingle:

Any time is apple time
Whether you’re 9 or 99
Here's a healthy golden rule
Take an apple each day to school
Munch it, crunch it
Call for more
Crunch it, munch it
Eat it right down 'til you reach the core
Any time is apple time
Whether it's wet or whether it’s fine
Don't neglect this daily rule
Take some apples with you to school.

A version of this song sung by the children of Lyall Bay School was played every morning on the commercial network radio stations during the "children's session," which young listeners would have heard before heading off to school – no doubt with several apples in their bag!

There was also a national Apple Pie baking contest – with the finals in Wellington judged by (who else?) beloved radio personality Aunt Daisy.

This particular version of "The New Zealand Apple Song" was recorded by Theo Walters' Personality Band, well-known entertainers  of the 1930s and 1940s who often appeared on the radio. It is thought the uncredited vocalist could be Jean McPherson, New Zealand's "Sweetheart of the Forces" during World War II.

Collection reference 29134
Year 1940
Credits Songwriter: Ivan Perrin; Performers: Theo Walters' Personality Band;
Macquarie 78rpm disc recording

Potatoes for Britain

Severe food shortages in post-war Great Britain sparked campaigns urging New Zealanders to do all they could to be self-sufficient in food, leaving vital overseas supplies for the hungry "Mother Country."

Almost everyone still had a home vegetable garden in 1940s New Zealand. This series of three radio commercials gives gardeners tips on the ways to maximise their seed potato supplies, to ensure a good crop.

Collection reference 39896
Year 1940s
Credits Broadcaster: National Commercial Broadcasting Service

Rubber Drive

This recording is an excerpt from an 8 minute-long wartime radio broadcast, which today would probably be called a "public service announcement" rather than commercial advertising. This was broadcast on the non-commercial YA stations as well as the commercial ZB network.

Nationwide "rubber drives" were held in 1942, as wartime shortages meant there was not enough rubber able to be produced to meet demand. New Zealanders were urged to hand over any unwanted rubber items – from shoes and gumboots, to tyres, hot water bottles and hoses. Children were enlisted to help in the war effort, with groups such as the Boy Scouts going door to door to collect rubber donations.

The patriotic tone of this recording urges listeners to play their part: "Give every ounce of rubber to democracy! Every ounce of rubber is a sacred trust!"

Listen to the full rubber drive programme here.

Collection reference 36438
Year 1942
Credits Broadcaster: 2YA Wellington, Commercial Broadcasting Service network; Script: Dorothy Haig

Presenting the Ultra Gentle Home Permanent

A promotional film set at "home," showing Betty using the Ultra Gentle Home Permanent system, with the help of her friend Pat.

The film evokes the idea, commonly expressed since the popularisation of makeup during the 1920s, that using consumer products to transform herself could be an act of liberation for the modern woman.

The viewer is taken step-by-step through the home perm process – "so simple and affordable."

Betty is transformed with a brand new look. The film includes before and after shots comparing her new shiny, waved hair to the flat, limp hair she started with: "How different Betty’s hair is now from how it was such a short time ago!"

The film was produced for Salmond & Spraggon Ltd. of Wellington.

Collection reference F52697
Year 1949
Credits Production Company: Neuline Films Ltd; Made: Spraggon Ltd 

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Lux Soap Flakes

This advertisement addresses women as wives and homemakers, in a fashion typical of this era: "Men, as a rule, are not too fussy about what they put on. But if there’s one thing that upsets their apple cart, it’s a tight-fitting pullover." Fortunately there is a way to make sure pullovers keep their fit in the wash – by using Lux soap flakes. "Keep your own woolies gay and fresh with that lovely-as-new look, that Lux look. And keep the menfolk’s pullovers dashing and well-fitting."

Lux manufacturer Lever Brothers Ltd reinforced the connection between woollen clothing and their product with promotions like the book of wartime knitting patterns pictured.

Collection reference 26338
Year 1948
Credits Advertiser: Lever Brothers Ltd; Broadcaster: National Commercial Broadcasting Service

Snowflakes Soap Flakes

This series of advertisements explains the benefits of hand-washing sheer silk or nylon stockings in Snowflakes, "the thinner, finer soap flakes."

Listeners are given tips on how to prevent runs and ladders caused by suspenders, and "brittle threads caused by perspiration."

Two women discuss the expense of buying sheer stockings – with the recommendation to give all stockings more than average care by washing them regularly with Snowflakes.

Snowflakes are also useful for hand-washing woollen clothing – "Don’t be afraid to wash your twin-set after it’s lost its first freshness."

Collection reference 31483
Year 1948
Credits Advertiser: McLeod Brothers Ltd, Dunedin

Lifebuoy Soap

Lifebuoy soap (Lever Bros Ltd) was once one of New Zealand's best-known consumer brandnames. The brand's prominance was bolstered by its long-running sponsorship of the popular radio music chart show, "The Lifebuoy Hit Parade," which ran from the 1940s to the 1960s (The name changed to that of its manufacturer, Lever Brothers, as the "Lever Hit Parade" in the late 1950s).

This commercial, which ran during the Hit Parade, plays strongly on the fear of social disaster and the horror of giving offence with dreaded "B.O." – or body odour – which could of course be alleviated with regular use of the sponsor's product. This fear also featured strongly in Lifebuoy's print advertising.

Collection reference 33508
Year 1947
Credits Advertiser: Lever Brothers Ltd; Broadcaster: National Commercial Broadcasting Network

Lifebuoy Hit Parade

This excerpt from the long-running music chart show "The Lifebuoy Hit Parade" hosted by Rex Walden, shows how sponsorship was used in popular radio programming from the early years of commercial radio in New Zealand.

The manfacturers of Lifebuoy soap, Lever Brothers Ltd, would continue to sponsor this programme for another two decades, later under the name "The Lever Hit Parade."

The popularity of hit music amongst New Zealand's youth meant the programme was an ideal way for advertisers to promote sales of shampoos, soaps and other personal hygiene products.

Collection reference 287145
Year 1946
Credits Advertiser: Lever Brothers Ltd; Broadcaster: National Commercial Broadcasting Network; Announcer: Rex Walden

Ingram's Shaving Cream

These three radio commercials for Ingram's Shaving Cream (Bristol Myers Ltd) are more ambitious productions than earlier announcer-presented radio commercials, featuring three voice actors. The actors aim to convince male listeners that their wives will appreciate the difference if they switch to Ingram's for "a face a smooth as a film star's."

Collection reference 31483
Year 1949
Credits Advertiser: Bristol Myers Ltd; Broadcaster: National Commercial Broadcasting Service

Dixon's Carpet Shampoo

Dixon's Carpet Shampoo "really does work wonders in brightening shabby rugs and upholstery."

The advertisement appeals to female homemakers: "you can work the transformation at home yourself without any fuss or bother." Instructions are given to "brush on and work up a lather, wipe off with a damp rag and leave to dry."

Not only does the product clean carpet, it can also be used to clean spots off dirty children’s clothes. The listener is invited to listen to Aunt Daisy’s radio programme to learn more uses for the product. The print advertising also mentions the tie-in with Aunt Daisy.

The advertiser here was the sponsor of a dramatised American radio serial "Forever Young." Before the introduction of television in the 1960s, radio "soap operas" were very popular entertainment, especially amongst female listeners during the "Women's Hour." Overseas, as well as New Zealand-produced dramas were broadcast here and all had loyal followers.

Collection reference 26338
Year 1943
Credits Advertiser: Sharland and Co. Ltd

Kiwi Concert Party Sketch

Note: contains coarse language.

Commercial radio advertising began in New Zealand in 1936 but this recording, made only five years later, shows it was already so well-recognised as part of everyday life, that it could form the basis for a humourous sketch.

The Kiwi Concert Party was an all-male entertainment troupe formed by men serving with the 2NZEF during World War II. They travelled with the forces through the Middle East, North Africa and Italy, performing variety shows in the vaudeville style – with a mixture of drama, comedy, novelty items and a range of music, from classical to jazz and Māori waiata.

In this recording, made at a soldier's concert in Egypt in 1941, four men present a mildly risqué sketch depicting several commercial radio stations broadcasting at once, and appearing to switch between Aunt Daisy's radio programme and various commercials mid-sentence, to humorous effect, with Aunt Daisy being the target of most of the jokes.

Well-known consumer brand names of the era are mentioned, including: Carter's Little Liver Pills, Velveeta cheese spread, Zambuck ointment, Rinso soap powder, Waitemata Beer and Nestle's milk.

The sketch ends by linking Aunt Daisy to an advertisement for worming tablets for female dogs. This military humour and coarse language was obviously considered too rough for radio audiences of 1941, and the original disc recording of the sketch bears a censor's label: "Do Not Play." (The national broadcaster probably didn't appreciate the soldiers poking fun at their star announcer either!)

Collection reference 13140
Year 1941
Credits Broadcaster: National Broadcasting Service Mobile Recording Unit