Monday, August 6, 2012

Weetbix ... Weet-bix ...Weetabix ... more info appears

Evening Post 11 May 1927
Well, what I term the Weetbix Saga has been a long one here on Timespanner. It kicked off with my original post: Who invented Weetbix, (19 Feb 2009) in which I had a brain-fart, put an impossible date in the margin of an ad printed off from the library, and reproduced that in error here (producing an "oh look, Timespanner has an error" comment from one of the two sides of the real debate. Well -- the error's fixed, fairly well, now. Never said this blog is error-free ... sigh.)

Lots of comments to that post.

Then The development of Weetbix -- the sequel (24 September 2009), bringing in the Mills of Burton Latimer website (which, it now appears, also got fine details wrong such as the name of the British and African Cereal Company. )

The Weetbix controversy rolled on (14 March 2010) with the publication of John Baskerville Bagnall's article Weet-Bix the Early History supporting the case that his uncle Arthur Shannon came up with the breakfast food.

But now, we have in reply, Yvonne Sainsbury's Weet-Bix Origin and History supporting her father Bennison Osborne as the inventor. In short, she states that her father developed Weet-Bix, had financial backing from Arthur Shannon, who in turn was bought out (as Grain Products Ltd) by Sanitarium, all in the 1920s in Australia. Osborne then travelled to New Zealand with Malcolm Macfarlane, producing the product here with funding from Arthur Shannon. Sanitarium bought him out again, here (in 1930).

 Evening Post 31 March 1927

Bennison Osborne and Malcolm Macfarlane then take their business ideas to South Africa, seek funding that doesn't come from Arthur Shannon this time, and they call their product Weetabix. Sainsbury disputes Bagnall's article, showing that the British and African Cereal Company was private, that there were no public shares for Arthur Shannon to buy up on learning of the other two men's "treachery" and then demand at a shareholders meeting that the product's name couldn't be Weet-Bix. Sainsbury contends that Shannon was refused any financial part in the new company.

Then comes the story at Burton Latimer.

Yvonne Sainsbury quotes from a number of primary sources, and certainly adds to this whole story. Thank you, Yvonne and bonzer, for sharing your info with us here at Timespanner for the past over three years.

Footnote: Looking up some of the early Weetbix ads on Papers Past, I found this:

Which came from the Evening Post, 11 July 1928. Yes, that is the date from the website.

Wikipedia says Cenovis originated in Switzerland in 1931, as does this Cenovis:Tradition page. This page compares the three - Vegemite, Marmite and Cenovis.

Advertisements for Cenovis peter out here in New Zealand around 1933. This might be more of the untold or confused history of Sanitarium-related products -- but I'll leave it for readers to sort it out, for the future.

1 comment:

  1. *phew!* What a tangled mess to sort out! Thanx for your exhaustive efforts re: Weetbix et al!
    Now, let battle commence on the Cenovis/Marmite/Vegemite Front... :-)