Queen of lollies back in sweet business

Rainbow Confectionery's Mike Elvidge heralds the return of the Regina label from the Oamaru lolly factory, with the brand name again proudly emblazoned on its building. Photo by David Bruce.
Rainbow Confectionery's Mike Elvidge heralds the return of the Regina label from the Oamaru lolly factory, with the brand name again proudly emblazoned on its building. Photo by David Bruce.
The name most people still associate with Oamaru's lolly factory is coming back, with the Regina brand name reappearing in supermarkets.

The line of six lollies, including history-making pineapple chunks first made 60 years ago, will be produced from the Rainbow Confectionery plant in Regina Lane that was originally established in 1949 as Regina Confectionery by Jack McNamara, from Dunedin.

It was eventually bought by Nestle New Zealand, who closed it in 2001, when the Regina brand disappeared.

New Zealand investors Ray White, Patrick Betty and Rod Thornton bought the factory and breathed new life into the business, adding new technologies and investing in new plant, including machines capable of producing jellybeans, the only manufacturer in New Zealand to have that facility.

It has now brought back the Regina name, celebrating sixty years since Regina employee Charles Diver first made pineapple chunks at the Oamaru factory. They are believed to be the first oblong-shaped, pineapple-flavoured, chocolate-covered marshmallow lollies in New Zealand.

They came from finding a use for pineapple marshmallow left over after making chocolate fish.

''Diver's recipe has been tinkered with a little bit for the 2013 pineapple chunks to contain 15% pineapple juice and no artificial flavours or colour,'' Regina sales and marketing manager Simon Williams said.

The others in the range are Kiwi party mix, flash-as jellybeans, licorice faves, baby fush and nuts 'n' bolts.

The Regina brand will run alongside the Rainbow brand.

And after a decade of growth, the operation has become a significant supplier of confectionery in New Zealand, giving international market leaders Cadbury and Nestle an increasing level of New Zealand-made competition.

In April, Rainbow Confectionery bought Australia confectionery maker Metford Confectionery Pty Ltd, in Newcastle, making Rainbow the largest privately owned confectionery manufacturer in Australasia.

david.bruce@odt.co.nz