Changes and Developments along the years

There had not really been any major changes prior to 1946 when I joined the firm, except that the motorcar had been invented and biscuit deliveries were now made by lorry in the towns and surrounding areas, and not by horse and cart.  A fair quantity of biscuits was railed into the country areas and biscuits destined for the Johannesburg market were railed to the warehouse.  Another change was that biscuits were by and large no-longer sold loosely packed in tins, but were wrapped into packets weighing ½lb each.  Those customers who purchased biscuits packed loose in tins were charged one penny per pound less than the normal packet price, but it was soon realized that there was extra work involved in setting aside special handling of these biscuits that the manufacturers all agreed that loose biscuits should be charged one penny more per pound.

Biscuits Wrapped into Packets

All biscuits were wrapped into packets of 8oz (½lb).  The wrapping usually consisted of two sheets of paper – an inner liner of greaseproof paper and an outer printed wrapper of poster paper.  These wrappers allowed the transmission of moist air quite easily, so the biscuits were always kept in tins by the grocery stores.  There was a big change however when cellophane was invented, the first being known as MST, but this still allowed the transfer of moisture.  Then came a major breakthrough and impermeable cellophane was produced known as MSAT.  Manufacturers therefore used this cellophane as the inner liner with the poster paper on the outside.  It was this that enabled biscuits to be packed into corrugated containers in due course, and the use of tins to be dropped.

Photograph above : Example of a single-colour wrapper.

Printing Improvements

Most wrappers were printed in one colour only to avoid frequent runs through printing presses to apply additional colours and so increase the cost.  In about 1946 machinery was developed that could print several colours at once.  This enabled the reproduction of pictures of the biscuits on the packet, and the packets became more appealing to the public.

Tins, Crates and Corrugated Cases

The custom was that biscuits were packed into three different sizes of tins, the approximate weights being 7lb, 14lb and 28lb.  (These were illustrated on a previous page).  The tins were delivered to the various merchants, but biscuits to be railed into the country were held in wooden crates.  A deposit charge was made for each tin and for each crate.  This was refunded when the tins and crates arrived back in good condition.  When Weston came to the country and bought the Hay’s Biscuit Factory he immediately decreed that his factory would no-longer use tins, but would use only corrugated containers which would be supplied free of charge and would not be returnable.  The biscuit manufacturers were alarmed by this move, but it soon transpired that habit dies hard and the changeover by customers was accepted very slowly.  In effect the situation developed that no new tins were made or bought and the stock of tins was gradually reduced over the years through damage and normal wastage.