Friday, 2 February 2007

Iconic Cook Book Online

New Zealanders can get a taste of the past, with the third (1914) edition of the iconic Edmonds Cookery Book now in cyberspace, thanks to Victoria University.

The University's New Zealand Electronic Text Centre has converted the book, lent by publishers of the modern text, Goodman Fielder, into a digital format. It is now freely accessible to the world via the New Zealand Electronic Text collection.

Alison Stevenson, Director of the Centre, says the project has been very exciting. "There aren't many families in New Zealand who have grown up without a copy of the Edmonds Cookery Book, so it's been great to see what it was like almost at the beginning."

The Edmonds Cookery Book started life in 1907 as a 50-page pamphlet of recipes promoting Thomas John Edmonds' baking powder and jellies. The marketing ploy proved so successful that the second edition, in 1910, had a print run of 150,000. It is not known if any first editions survive, however some second editions do. Today, more than three million copies of the book have been sold.

The Centre has scanned and digitised all 50 pages, including advertisements and testimonials for the baking powder from happy housewives, for example Mrs A.T. Phillips of Taranaki, who wrote: "I use 1½ tins a month, and always refuse any other offered to me."

Recipes include more typical treats such as rock cakes, Christmas cake, and the Kiwi favourite, pikelets. More peculiar are Marmalade Cheese Cakes (which don't in fact contain cheese) and several recipes without eggs, including Egg Drink (without eggs).

The Centre, which is part of the University Library, hosts an ever-expanding free internet archive of New Zealand and Pacific Island texts and materials at In addition to its own digitisation of important New Zealand history and literature, the NZETC provides digitisation and consultancy services to other cultural heritage institutions in New Zealand.

The Edmonds Cookery Book can be accessed at For further information, contact Alison Stevenson on 04 463 6847 or email"