In 1936 Albert Hayman and Len Malaghan opened their first Ice Cream parlour in Manners Street, Wellington, New Zealand.
According to Tip Top the story the name Tip Top is not known for sure, but it is believed that Hayman and Malaghan were discussing business over a meal whilst travelling in a train dining car one evening and overheard a fellow diner commenting that his meal was ‘tip top’. They immediately decided that they would like to hear people say that about their ice cream, and so the name for their newly founded ice cream business was born.
In 1936 a second milk bar was opened in Wellington, and another one in Dunedin. The same year, Tip Top Ice Cream Company was registered as a manufacturing company. By 1938 Tip Top was manufacturing its own ice cream and was successfully operating stores in the lower half of the North Island, and in Nelson and Blenheim.
In May 1938 Tip Top Ice Cream Company Auckland Limited was incorporated into the growing ice cream business. Due to distribution difficulties, and World War II, this was operated as a completely separate company to the Wellington Tip Top.
In November 1962, Hayman and Malaghan opened the biggest and most technically advanced ice cream factory in the Southern Hemisphere, built at Mount Wellington, Auckland, New Zealand. The Tip Top factory included staff houses and 20 acres of farm land overlooking the Southern Motorway and cost NZ£700,000. Prime Minister Keith Holyoake attended the opening ceremony.
By 1964 the Company had expanded to such an extent that a parent company was formed, General Foods Corporation Limited. It was rated as one of the soundest investments on the stock exchange and other companies were quick to note its potential.
The Auckland Tip Top factory was originally a seasonal factory, which worked only to produce ice cream for the summer months. They sold for a shilling, and early innovations led to ice cream inventions like Topsy, Jelly Tip, FruJu and Ice Cream Sundaes, some of which are among New Zealand’s iconic foods today. The overwhelming success of these products transformed the Mt Wellington site from a summer-centred seasonal factory into a 24 hour, 365 day operation.
As demand grew over the years, 2 further plants were opened in Christchurch and Perth. The Christchurch factory was specially designed to meet the stringent export requirements of the Japanese market.
Supermodel Rachel Hunter appeared for the first time on television in an advertisement for Tiptop Trumpet in the mid 1980’s at 15 years of age. This advertisement was popular and helped the Tip Top brand grow even stronger in New Zealand whilst also helping to launch her career.
In April 1997 Tip Top was purchased by a West Australian food processor, Peters & Browne’s Foods from Heinz Watties. This merger of Peters & Browne’s and Tip Top created the largest independent ice cream business in the Southern Hemisphere with combined sales of $550 million.
On the 18th June 2001 Tip Top Ice Cream became part of Fonterra Co-operative Group after Fonterra purchased the Peter and Browne’s Foods Business off Heinz Watties.
In 2007 the Christchurch Factory was closed with all production moving to Auckland.
Tip Top Brands
* Tip Top Ice cream available in quarts (1 litre approx) and Pints (600ml approx)
* Eskimo Pie (Tip tops first novelty product)
* R2D2 Iceblock (became TT2's)
* Memphis Meltdown
* Popsicle Creamy (previously Chill)
Tip Top's 70th Anniversary
Celebrations took place throughout the country in November 2006 to mark the 70th anniversary of Tip Top Ice Cream years ago. This included 13 selected Tip Top Dairies (a New Zealand term for convenience store) for one day selling 10 cent, 1 scoop cone ice creams a promotional activity. These days the price of 1 scoop of Tip Top ice cream at a dairy is usually between $1 and $2 depending on where it is purchased.
As Tip Top considered rail and bus commuters to be their first loyal customers on the 22nd of November 2006 at Britomart Transport Centre (Auckland’s New Central railway terminal) a Tracey Collins designed ice cream tree took centre-stage on the rail platform. Many local school's took the train to the Britomart to view the displays about the history of Tip Top ice cream and see the ice cream tree.
Also as part of Tip Top's celebration, the previously discontinued brand Joy Bar was giving a temporary reprieve.