Was Georgie Pie really founded by a Chinese cabbage smuggler?
Well aren’t you well-informed! Yes, Georgie Pie was the brainchild of Chinese New Zealander Tom Ah Chee, CEO at Progressive Enterprises at the time. Before merging with Progressive, Ah Chee had helped set up New Zealand’s first supermarket, Foodtown. And before that, he worked in the family business selling fruit and vegetables to Aucklanders despite strict post-war regulations that made it illegal to transport such things without a licence (which the Ah Chees didn’t have). So yes, cabbage smuggling, which is possibly one of the reasons the Auckland Retail Fruiterers’ Association describes him as “the guerilla of fruit and vegetable retailing”.
So how did Ronald McDonald get in on the act?
Like most questions about the global burger giant, the answer is ‘real estate’. McDonald’s bought Georgie Pie from Progressive in 1996 and quickly converted 17 of its outlets into McDonald’s outlets, selling the rest.
Really? Wasn’t it more like a car company buying the patents for a hydrogen engine, shutting the competition down then throwing the inventor off a wharf?
Is that you, Ian Wishart? How did you get this number?
It doesn’t sound like they’re bringing back the one buck pie; what about that other Buck?
Ah, Buck Shelford? According to the documentary, Bring Back the George, the ads he fronted for Georgie Pie were some of the most successful in the company’s history, doubling sales the day after they ran. Since then, though, Buck has also been the face of weight loss company Jenny Craig, so maybe, maybe not.
The relaunch coincides with an all-time high in the popularity of legal drugs such as synthetic cannabis. Coincidence?
We couldn’t possibly say.
How is Henry Ford connected to all this?
Well, like the Model T, the relaunched Georgie Pie will be available in just one flavour. So you can have any colour at all, so long as it’s Steak, Mince ‘n’ Cheese.
Georgie Pie’s innovation didn’t stop at the bakery though, did it?
Not at all! The chain was the first to offer a drive-through, first to offer drive-through breakfast and first tooperate a 24-hour drive-through.
The chain closed in 1994 … will the 2013 recipe pies taste the same?
Not if you’re a fan of what my local Chinese supermarket calls ‘gourmet powder’. For some unfathomable reason, McDonald’s has chosen not to include Georgie Pie’s secret herb and spice: MSG.
Is it true that a competing chain plans to market circular but otherwise identical pies, charge $3.14 for them and call their operation Georgie Pi?
No, but I see whay you did there.
Idealog has been covering the most interesting people, businesses and issues from the fields of innovation, design, technology and urban development for over 12 years. And we're asking for your support so we can keep telling those stories, inspire more entrepreneurs to start their own businesses and keep pushing New Zealand forward. Give over $5 a month and you will not only be supporting New Zealand innovation, but you’ll also receive a print subscription and a copy of the new book by David Downs and Dr. Michelle Dickinson, No. 8 Recharged (while stocks last).
Idealog is part of ICG. We work with clients like Woolworths New Zealand, All Good, Huffer, Liquorland, Resene, Citta Design, TVNZ, Spark and FCB on their event activations, in-store, in-office or out-of-home signage, content creation and vehicle wraps.