Weet-Bix

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Weet-Bix logo.

Weet-Bix is a high-fiber and low sugar breakfast cereal biscuit manufactured in Australia and New Zealand by the Sanitarium Health Food Company, and in South Africa by Bokomo.

History[edit]

Weet-Bix in a bowl.

Sanitarium's breakfast cereal, wheat biscuits, originated in the 1890s in a product made of wheat flakes called Granose, invented by the Kellogg brothers, who went on to invent Corn Flakes.[1]

Weet-Bix, the breakfast cereal, was developed by Bennison Osborne in New South Wales, Australia in the mid-1920s. Osborne set out to make a product more palatable than "Granose," a biscuit that was marketed by the Sanitarium Health Food Company at that time. He tried his new product on his nieces and nephews until he had it perfected,[2] and on August 19, 1926, he lodged an application for registration of the trademark Weetbix,[3] a name which he had devised.[4] Production began at 659 Parramatta Road, Leichhardt, under the management of Osborne[5] and with the financial backing of Arthur Shannon who created the company “Grain Products” to manufacture the cereal. Osborne's friend Malcolm Ian Macfarlane from New Zealand joined him to take on a marketing role. The product was so successful that in October 1928, Shannon sold the rights in the product to the Australasian Conference Association Limited (Sanitarium Health Food Company). Macfarlane suggested that they ship the product to New Zealand, where it proved so successful that it became difficult to adequately supply the market from Australia. Osborne and MacFarlane went to N.Z. and factories were established in Auckland and Christchurch.[6] However, once again, Shannon sold out to the Australasian Conference Association Limited.

Osborne and Macfarlane then exported the product to South Africa and with Shannon's financial backing, went to that country and a factory was installed in Cape Town, with Osborne managing sales.[7] This enterprise was also subsequently sold, this time to Bokomo.

While in South Africa, Osborne and Macfarlane sought to obtain more satisfactory financial backing to secure Osborne’s product. A syndicate was formed, Osborne refined the product and he and Macfarlane went to England to form the British & African Cereal Company, Ltd.,[8] which they registered in London in 1932, as a Private Company, with the proprietor shown as Weetabix Limited of Weetabix Mills, Burton Latimer, Kettering. All shares in the Company were specified to be under the control of the Directors, the first of whom were Bennison Osborne, Malcolm Ian Macfarlane, Alfred Richard Upton and Arthur Stanley Scrutton.[9] For the purpose of differentiating the product from that sold in Australia, N.Z. and South Africa, the product was named "Weetabix". Osborne and Macfarlane became the joint managing directors with Osborne controlling production and Macfarlane controlling marketing. Thirty-three potential sites for the factory were examined, with Burton Latimer in Northamptonshire eventually being chosen, due in part to the offer of a disused flour mill by a Mr. George, who requested shares in the Company and who was subsequently offered a seat on the existing Board of Directors. A fleet of cars was purchased, salesmen were employed throughout England, staff was increased[10] and the Company went from strength to strength.[11] In 1933, Macfarlane left the Company to pursue other business interests, leaving Osborne as the sole managing director.[12] George eventually became Chairman of the Board.[13] Osborne sold his shareholding to the directors in July, 1936, at which time the Company was renamed “Weetabix Limited.”[14] Osborne proceeded at that time to the United States, establishing a weetabix factory in Clinton, Massachusetts. However, the venture was unsuccessful. Osborne applied to join the British armed forces but was declined due to age. However, he was quickly accepted by the U.S., eventually assuming full charge of activities at the Army Air Base in Zephyrhills, Florida.[15] He returned to Australia in 1946. Weetabix eventually entered the U.S. market from Canada via Clinton, Massachusetts, the site of the original U.S. factory. Osborne died in 1980.

For original copies of the documentation noted above, please link to [4].

Brand popularity[edit]

Weet-Bix is seen in both Australia and New Zealand as an iconic national foodstuff. An online poll of 16,000 people in 2006 identified it as Australia's favourite trademark.[16] The product has been marketed in Australia and New Zealand since 1985 with the catchphrase "Aussie/Kiwi Kids are Weet-Bix kids". The campaign was created by Sydney freelance writers Ralph and Janet Hogan and music composer Pat Aulton for Grey Advertising, the advertising agency responsible at the time for the Sanitarium advertising account. Based on its success in Australia it was adapted six months later to appear in New Zealand as Kiwi Kids are Weet-Bix kids. Weet-Bix sponsors a number of Australian sports teams, including the national cricket and rugby union teams, members of whom have appeared in some television advertising campaigns.

See also[edit]

  • Weetabix - the UK variant that is now exported to around 80 countries.
  • Shredded Wheat - another wheat-based biscuit cereal.

References[edit]

For original copies of the documentation noted below, please link to [5].

  1. ^ "Inventor of the Week : W.K Kellogg". Retrieved 29 February 2012. 
  2. ^ Letter from Osborne's nephew
  3. ^ Trademark 45320
  4. ^ Osborne's Affidavit
  5. ^ Osborne's business card
  6. ^ Photograph of Christchurch factory
  7. ^ Osborne's South African Business card
  8. ^ [1] Company No. 00267687
  9. ^ [2] Company No. 00267687, Article 82, p. 31 or 34
  10. ^ Photograph of Weetabix staff circa 1933
  11. ^ Business References
  12. ^ British & African Cereal Company, Ltd.
  13. ^ British & African Cereal Company, Ltd., Letterhead
  14. ^ [3], Company No. 00267687
  15. ^ U.S. Army Air Force letter
  16. ^ "Weet-Bix Top Trademark", ABC News, September 26, 2006.

External links[edit]