MasterFoods spicing up life for 75 years

A 1966 advertisement for corn relish along with other Masterfood products of yesteryear. Pictures: Supplied
A 1966 advertisement for corn relish along with other Masterfood products of yesteryear. Pictures: Supplied

From "curry in a can" and kangaroo tail soup, to its famous range of herbs and spices in kitchens across Australia, iconic dinnertime brand MasterFoods turns 75 this year.

To celebrate, the homegrown Aussie brand has cracked open its archives to share forgotten family food treasures and amusing old adverts that reveal just how much Australian tastes have changed over the past 75 years.

Who doesn't remember growing up in kitchens with a MasterFoods branded spice rack in the kitchen, or some kind of fish paste on school lunch white-bread sandwiches.

An early version of the iconic herbs and spices. Picture: Supplied

An early version of the iconic herbs and spices. Picture: Supplied

In 1945 Henry Lewis set up the MasterFoods brand, importing foods such as mustards, smoked salmon, cheese and anchovies. With the influx of European migrants after the war, Lewis saw an opportunity to help them sell their traditional foods which they were making in small backyard factories.

In the early 1950s MasterFoods started manufacturing their own produce - the first food item was Bread and Butter Cucumbers.

Other popular 1950s delicacies soon followed, like Roll Mops (pickled herring), Mint Jelly, Sauerkraut and the hottest of Hot English Mustards (MasterFoods was the first to produce a prepared hot English mustard that actually kept its heat).

The kangaroo soup was served on Qantas flights. Picture: Supplied

The kangaroo soup was served on Qantas flights. Picture: Supplied

In the 1960s, the company's forward-thinking was on show with the release of its popular Kangaroo Tail Soup, which was served by Qantas Airways, while the 1970s saw increasing demand for convenient packet seasonings and herbs.

The 1980s saw the rise of MasterFoods' own cookbooks which could be found in kitchens across Australia, while in the 1990s, MasterFoods innovated the humble tomato sauce bottle by launching the world's first squeezy sauce bottle as well as the iconic single serve squeeze-on sauces now a staple at takeaway shops.

As we hit the new millennium, MasterFoods expanded its range to include more lifestyle-driven convenience products and continued to influence how we cook and what we eat at home.

Who couldn't be moved by their recent promotion "Let's Make Dinnertime Matter", where people were asked who they would most like to have dinner with, and parents were completely surprised when their children said mum and dad, said family.

Bill Heague, general manager of Mars Food Australia (Mars bought MasterFoods from the Lewis family in 1966) says the business has always recognised the physical and emotional benefits of shared dinners.

MasterFood's tomato sauce was the first to be sold in the squeezy bottle. Picture: Supplied

MasterFood's tomato sauce was the first to be sold in the squeezy bottle. Picture: Supplied

"As we mark the heritage of a taste-maker brand that, for the last 75 years, has set food trends, introduced Australians to bold, new international flavours, and remains committed to celebrating multiculturalism and connecting people through food ... we remain committed to making dinnertime not only more flavourful, but more meaningful," he said.

"MasterFoods is continuing to expand its range to suit Australians' changing wants and needs, so we're looking at how we can create more plant-based products, expand our herb range beyond just dried herbs and make healthy, tasty meals more convenient.

"We want Australians to try new things and go rogue in the kitchen, and we want to help families and friends discover the joy of cooking and sharing dinner. We're always evolving our brand to ensure that we are, and always have been, Australia's dinnertime brand."

This story MasterFoods lifts the lid on some forgotten family favourites first appeared on The Canberra Times.