Small rectangular cardboard box, with coloured printing on all sides, containing dried potato flakes.

It is allegedly the first box to be produced at the new Unilever Factory in Ballarat, in May 1963, and was kept as a souvenir by a young man who worked there.

Physical Description

Small rectangular cardboard box with a glued down flap on either end. There is colour printing on all sides of the box, including a photograph of a large bowl of instant mashed potato. On the sides are printed two recipes using the product, including Salmon Potato Cakes and Tomato and Potato Peaks. The date `13.5.63' is handwritten in blue ink on the front of the box.


This item is significant addition to the Museum's Commerce and Retailing collection representing one of the most ubiquitous and well remembered examples of the types of processed foods being produced in Australia in the decades after World War 2. They were designed to ease some of the burden placed on people (mainly women) to produce the perfect dinner for their family in the shortest length of time. Even the relatively small amounts of time and effort needed to produce mash potato could be shortened using a product such as Deb Instant Mashed Potato.

It is also significant due to its links to the processing plants and factories operating in regional Victoria. Although no longer operating under the Unilever name, the factory which produced this product still exists and is operated by Canadian food processor McCain's. Its opening in May 1963 was reported far and wide, even reaching the pages of the August edition of the American Potato Journal, which proclaimed `Instant Mashed Potato Extends to Australia. A great boon to the housewife has just come on to the market in Australia with the opening of an Instant Mashed Potato Factory. The factory, situated on a 1.5 acre-site 3 ½ miles northwest of Ballarat in the State of Victoria, has been built by Unilever Australia Pty Ltd at the cost of $1,700,000 to supply all of Australia with Instant Mashed Potato ... At present, 75 people are employed in the plant and by next year the staff is expected to double. All the equipment used in the new Unilever plant was built and installed by Food Machinery Company (Aust) Limited. The instant mashed potato, which emerges from the factory as thin flakes, takes only a matter of seconds to convert into fluffy, creamy textured mashed potato .'

According to the vendor of this item, the box was snatched from the production line as a souvenir of the first day of operation by a 17yo working at the factory. He wrote the day's date on the front of the packet.

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