The History of Queen Anne Chocolates
The Queen Anne story began in the 1920’s with my Grandfather, Ernest Adams. It continues today as we make delicious memories with new Queen Anne products. Follow this story back to its beginnings...
2011 The Queen Anne Factory opens in Christchurch
Finally – despite the earthquakes, the Queen Anne factory opens at 19 Cable St, Sockburn, Christchurch. Setting up a chocolate factory can be challenging at the best of times but doing it amongst earthquakes adds a new dimension. Not only will we be making our favourite chocolates and marshmallow but also tasty new flavours. Our Apricot cremes now feature Otago dried apricots for a real apricot ‘zing’. I will be cooking up more of the original Queen Anne flavours so if you are in the vicinity come and try them.
Proudly made in Christchurch (against all odds), gluten free with all natural flavours and fillings. Beat the shakes with chocolate – I say!
1997 A New Beginning for Queen Anne Chocolates
This is where I come in. After spending my working life in my grandfather’s company, Ernest Adams Ltd is sold off to a ‘bigger fish’ and I found myself in the wrong pond, so to speak. Here I was without a job and not sure what to do next. As good luck would have it, I was asked to write a short biography on my grandfather and so began a year of researching Queen Anne. Before I knew it I had a To Do List; find the original chocolate recipes, replicate the iconic Queen Anne boxes, find a manufacturer to make those fabulous chocolates again.
Queen Anne was back in business again and I had a job.
1976 Close Down of Queen Anne Chocolates
After 50 years of chocolate making, and facing extensive costs to upgrade the factory, the Queen Anne College Street business shut down and was dismantled. Although there was interest from an Australian company to purchase Queen Anne, back in those days selling off New Zealand assets overseas wasn’t allowed, so another popular New Zealand brand disappeared.
1974 Ernest Adams Ltd Purchases Adams Bruce Ltd
Ironically it was Ernest Adams Ltd purchasing Adams Bruce Ltd in 1974 which signalled the end for Queen Anne. My grandfather’s company decided that they would just buy back the bakery side of the business ‘sticking to the knitting’. The end was near for Queen Anne.
1960 New Queen Anne Shops...
Continued growth in the 1960’s meant that cake; ice cream and confectionery shops were opened in almost every centre in the North Island. Shops selling confectionery and ice cream are established in Blenheim, Christchurch, Ashburton, Timaru and Dunedin in the South. Queen Anne was a household name! However there was a cloud on the horizon as Queen Anne shops began to face increasing competition from the new ‘supermarkets’.
1950 Still Hand Decorated
During the 1950’s Queen Anne confectionery continued to increase in popularity. However by this stage technology had come to Queen Anne and most chocolates were machine coated instead of hand-dipped with chocolate. Interestingly though, the skilled ladies who hand-dipped and were able to make over 60 different designs on the top of the chocolates with a flick of their hands, continued to decorate the chocolates after they had been machine coated, so no one was the wiser.
1948 Dancing in Queen Anne Style
It was very social to be working at Queen Anne. Not only did the factory and office staff have regular dances, there were also picnics and sports teams. Betsy, who worked for Queen Anne in the 1940's before having a family, said Queen Anne was "like a family and it was always good fun going to work". And how could working in a chocolate factory not be good fun!
1945 A change of ownership for Queen Anne
Immediately after the war Hollis Reed travelled to Canada and purchased the Adams Bruce and Queen Anne business, on behalf of himself and John Rhodes, a ‘management buyout’. They set to work expanding their cake, chocolate and ice cream empire, establishing bakeries in Palmerston North and Napier to complement those in Wellington and Auckland. John Rhodes managed the Auckland bakery & Hollis Reed was the Managing Director based in Wellington.
When I was researching Queen Anne I spent a lot of time in libraries looking through old magazines and newspapers. Every so often I would come across a 'gem' like this Easter advertisement - another excuse to eat more chocolate!
1939 The Queen Anne Chocolatier returns home
Due to World War II, Morton Patterson left New Zealand and returned to Canada leaving Hollis Reed, his Manager, to run the Adams Bruce bakeries and Queen Anne chocolate and ice cream business.
So many people have told me over the years that Queen Anne Chocolates were the ultimate, 'sought after' gift. To be given a gift of "Queen Anne’s" was a wonderful thing. Of course the only thing better than a 1 Pound box of Queen Anne chocolates was a 2 Pound box!
1934 Queen Anne Shops
During the 1930’s over 60 varieties of hand dipped Queen Anne chocolates were sold throughout New Zealand from ‘Adams Bruce’ and ‘Queen Anne’ shops.
The Queen Anne shops were iconic - even today I have calls from people remembering the black and white tiled shops with leadlight windows featuring our Queen and row upon row of glossy chocolates in glass cabinets.
What a wonderful place to work!
1929 The ‘Going Got Tough’
The ‘going got tough’ for the company in the late 1920’s even though Adams Bruce was well established with bakeries and retail shops throughout New Zealand. New Zealand was facing the “Great Depression’ with high unemployment and rationing of ingredients. From family folklore, it took a toll on my grandfather who was travelling regularly to the North Island (not an easy plane trip in those days). It might be true that my grandmother said “Ern, you need to spend more time at home with the family”. Or it may not.
The result was that on a handshake and a gentleman’s agreement a new company, Ernest Adams Ltd, was formed to take over the South Island trading. Morton Patterson took over Adams Bruce and ran the North Island business. As Queen Anne chocolates and ice cream were made in College Street they stayed with Adams Bruce Ltd. An aside, Hugh Bruce initially went to the North Island to work with Morton Patterson however he was such good mates with my grandfather that he returned to Christchurch where they worked happily together until Hugh’s retirement.
1926 College Street, Wellington
It took a year to set up the chocolate production in the College St factory with machinery brought from Canada. Right from the start it was quite an undertaking as the factory was three stories high to make both chocolates and ice cream. Yum!
1926 Vic Kent joins Queen Anne
Vic was in his 90's when I first met him while researching Queen Anne. Vic started with Adams Bruce as a young lad and told me that he had to do menial jobs for several years until Mr Smith, the chocolatier, felt that he had proved his worth and started training him in the art of chocolate. It was to become his lifetimes passion as he trained then took over Mr Smith's role, running the chocolate factory until his retirement in the 1970's. Quality was Vic's motto and his mission. When we were testing our first Queen Anne recipes from the original formulations I would send samples to Vic and he would tell me " Sarah - you need a little more flavour" or advise me on the best ingredients. I still say thanks to Vic as I wouldn't have managed without him.
1925 Queen Anne Chocolate 'Studio'
I can tell you when Queen Anne chocolates were set up - 1925. I can also tell you how - by Canadian confectioners Morton Patterson and Hugh Smith, who came from Toronto to assist in setting up the Queen Anne Chocolate ‘Studio’ in College Street, Wellington. But I can’t tell you why! My best guess is that my grandfather, who travelled extensively, and was very innovative, saw chocolates in Canada and decided that he could do that too. Good idea Granddad!
1920 My Grandfather Ernest Adams ...
My grandfather Ernest Adams and his business partner Hugh Bruce set up a bakery, Adams Bruce Ltd based in Christchurch. Adams Bruce went from strength to strength and expanded to have bakeries up and down the country.