When two friends, Victor Watson and Oswald Lawless, started Tasti back in the 1930s, times were tough. It was the Great Depression, which might not seem like a great time to go into business but the delicious crystallised ginger they made was in strong demand. Other ingredients soon followed, sourced and supplied with the same care for quality.
Before long Tasti began putting their fine ingredients together into nutritious snacks. It was a simple idea, but it worked.
Ever since, the company has steadily added new recipes and ideas to the point where, today, you’ll find something from Tasti in pretty much every pantry in the land. We’re even roped in by other companies to help make their products.
To this day Tasti remains proudly New Zealand owned and operated and just as passionate about great ingredients as when we started out.
It all starts with the best ingredients
Since we first opened our doors we've been single-minded about hunting down the best quality ingredients for our customers, because if you use the best ingredients you get the best results. It's not rocket science but it's an idea that's worked for us for over 80 years.
With all these great ingredients to choose from, It was inevitable that we'd come up with some other ways to use them. In the 1970s we made one of New Zealand's first muesli bars - the iconic Snak Log - and now we're the largest manufacturer of muesli bars in the country. And we're always thinking up tasty new stuff.
In the midst of the Great depression, two friends, Oswald Lawless and Victor Watson started making and selling crystallised ginger. Their ambitions were modest: they needed to create jobs for themselves so they could feed their families.
They started in 1932 with a factory in Auckland's Gillies Ave and in 1935 moved to a bigger factory in Enfield St, Mt Eden, now the site of the Horse and Trap Pub.
Wages were £1 a week for the workers and £2 a week for the boss. The fresh ginger would come in large pieces which had to be hand cut and syruped in oak barrels. The end result was something exceptional - delicious and very popular with bakers, among others.
It wasn't just bakers who cottoned on to Tasti's rather special crystallised ginger. It was also popular with the hotel trade and Gentlemen's Clubs for heavy drinkers who wanted a remedy for the effects of a big night. Before long Tasti had built a following, so they began making other ingredients, like glacé cherries and peel. It was laborious work, employing up to 40 women to remove cherry stones with a bent piece of wire. In those days ingredients were supplied in large wooden boxes, from which your local grocer would measure out the exact quantity you required. Today the ingredients are much the same, just sealed in packs.
In 1965 Mr John Hall, who had been involved with the company for over 20 years took over from Mr Lawless and Mr Watson. Mr Hall was the nephew of James Crisp who ran the sales agency Tasti used since the late 1930s. In 1996 John's son Simon became our Executive Chairman and today the team at James Crisp Ltd are still our sales agents, helping make sure our products are on supermarket shelves around the country.
In 1966 we created Fruit Mix, a mixture of raisins, currants, mixed peel and imitation cherries designed for home bakers. It was an innovative product for its time, making fruit cakes a lot easier to bake and is still a strong seller today. Soon after the Tasti team started hunting down the nuttiest nuts to keep their devoted customers happy.
A new home and new ideas
By 1971 Tasti had outgrown its Mt Eden factory and moved into a new purpose built facility on Te Atatu Peninsula where we still are today. The factory has been extended and re-fitted several times as we've grown.
With all these hand-picked, delicious ingredients around, it was only a matter of time before we tried our hand at making and baking things too. First we came out with a muesli and then in 1977 came the Snak Log, New Zealand's own iconic muesli bar. Snak Logs are still made almost entirely the same way, using the best nuts and seeds and baked in old fashioned gem irons.
From strength to strength
It wasn't just our customers who spotted how good Tasti's products were. So did other companies. In the 1990s we signed an agreement with Weight Watchers and began producing snack bars and breakfast cereals under their brand. To this day our expertise is sought out by retailers and others to make their products.
In 1998 we added our first fruit cereal bar and began making tasty treats like Muffin Bakes and Fruitsies. In the last 10 years we have added more and more capacity to keep up with the demand for our delicious snacks. From humble beginnings we now employ over 250 people and export our products around the world.
So here we are now, over 80 years on and still bringing together the best ingredients for the best results.
Staunch Kiwi supporters
We're not just proud to be Kiwis, we help them out too. The birds, that is. Executive Chairman, Simon Hall, runs a private Conservation Trust. The Trust works with government departments, charities and universities to help endangered plants and wildlife, especially the Kiwi. Tasti profits help support the Trust and Tasti staff are lucky enough to head out into the bush to help out with the good work. Find out about our conservation work.