Wednesday, 30 March 2022

New Zealand's first food influencer

Last year I read a SpinOff article naming Allyson Gofton as New Zealand's first food influencer (Ward, 2021). While laudible - Ms Gofton certainly has influenced the New Zealand palate since the 1990s - I felt this was a pretty near-sighted view.

What of Hudson & Halls in the 1970s and 80s (Herkt, 2018)? Of 'Galloping Gourmet' Graeme Kerr in the early 1960s (New Zealand on Screen, 2021)? And radio icon, Aunt Daisy in the 1930s (New Zealand History, 2021b; Te Ara, 2021)? What of the Edmonds Sure To Rise Cookery Book before World War One (New Zealand History, 2021a; T. J. Edmonds Ltd., 1914, first published 1908)?

OK, sure: of all those mentioned in the last paragraph, only the Edmond's cookbook can actually claim to be Kiwi by birth, but all these people had their food-fame grounding in Aotearoa. However, I am unsure that the Edmond's cookbook can really be awarded the accolade of an 'influencer'. Even though the book ended up being a staple publication. An institution (New Zealand History, 2021a).

But Aunt Daisy - aka Maud Basham - certainly influenced. The author of ten cookbooks, and a broadcasting career when women were more likely to be 'housewives', Aunt Daisy hosted a half hour radio show with advertisers only able to have product placement given airtime if she had personally used and actually endorsed the product (New Zealand History, 2021b; Te Ara, 2021). In addition to writing and radio, she was in films, was sent to the US as a post-WW2 ambassador, and had a broadcasting career spanning 33 years. She was an incredible influencer.

Her on screen performance can be seen below (Cultural Dementia, 2020):

In my family, my grandfather and father would frequently quote - and misquote - Aunt Daisy's famous radio greeting: "Good morning, good morning, good morning everybody!" (New Zealand History, 2021b; Te Ara, 2021) with the following line, "This morning the sun was shining right up my back passage". Gales of hilarity followed. Whether Aunt Daisy ever did say that is now lost to time, but it certainly amused my familial menfolk.

On her half-hour daily morning radio slot, Aunt Daisy would endorse those products she had tried and tested. It has been reported that it was not unusual for endorsed products to be sold out by the afternoons of the same day (New Zealand History, 2021b). I think this clearly demonstrates 'influence'.

As a result, Aunt Daisy was - to the best of my knowledge - the earliest New Zealand food influencer. And her sun shines on. Whether up the back passage ...or not.


Sam

References:

  • Cultural Dementia. (5 September 2020). ZB's Popular Aunt Daisy Returns from the US. 1946 [video]. https://youtu.be/lJDN_GHa8h8
  • Herkt, D. (20 October 2018). A Kiwi blind spot: New Zealand's intolerant love for Hudson and Halls. Stuff. https://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/books/107801767/why-were-hudson--halls-embraced-as-celebrities-before-it-was-legal-to-be-gay
  • New Zealand History. (2021a). Edmonds cookery book. https://nzhistory.govt.nz/media/photo/edmonds-cookbook
  • New Zealand History. (2021b). Maud Basham: Biography. https://nzhistory.govt.nz/people/maud-basham
  • New Zealand on Screen. (2021). Graham Kerr: Presenter, Celebrity Chef. https://www.nzonscreen.com/profile/graham-kerr/biography
  • Nga Taonga. (2021). Maud Basham. https://ngataonga.org.nz/set/item/590
  • T. J. Edmonds Ltd. (1914). The Sure to Rise Cookery Book (3rd ed.). Author.
  • Te Ara. (2021). Story: Basham, Maud Ruby. https://teara.govt.nz/en/biographies/4b11/basham-maud-ruby
  • Ward, T. (11 September 2021). Allyson Gofton was New Zealand’s first food influencer. SpinOff. https://thespinoff.co.nz/tv/11-09-2021/allyson-gofton-was-new-zealands-first-food-influencer/

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