Cover of the 3rd edition of The 'Sure to rise' cookery book (1914), published by baking manufacturer T.J. Edmonds.
The Edmonds cookery book has sold over 3 million copies since it was first published in 1908, making it the best-selling New Zealand book by far. In Kiwi milestones (2004), Ron Palenski says that for several generations of New Zealanders the book was 'as much a part of New Zealand kitchens as a stove and knife', and that at one time it was 'sent unsolicited to every newly engaged couple in New Zealand.'
The Edmonds cookery book started life as Sure to rise cookery book in 1908 (though a free small giveaway booklet was distributed by the company the year before). The first edition was a 50-page pamphlet of recipes promoting Thomas John Edmonds' baking powder and jellies through 'economical everyday recipes and cooking hints'. The marketing ploy proved so successful that the second edition, in 1910, had a print run of 150,000. (Only two first editions are known to survive, although second editions are more common.) In 2008 Goodman Fielder New Zealand Ltd published the 60th edition, containing over 500 recipes. Gas and microwave oven cookery versions have also been produced.
Thomas Edmonds, a grocer, started his baking products business in Lyttelton in response to complaints from his customers about the unreliability of the baking powder they were using. In 1879 he sold his first batch of 200 tins, telling his customers that their baking was 'sure to rise'. Before long the housewives of Canterbury were clamouring for more of the tins bearing his distinctive rising sun with cakes trademark.
In 1922 Edmonds built a new factory in the industrial area of Ferry Road, Woolston, Christchurch. With its prominent slogan and beautiful gardens, the factory became a landmark and is depicted on the front of later editions of the Edmonds cookery book. Amidst much controversy, the factory was demolished in 1990. The following year the Christchurch City Council acquired a major portion of the original Edmonds' factory garden. Since then, a rose garden and an oval garden have been added to the site. Today Edmonds continues as a brand within Goodman Fielder Ltd.
Over the years the Edmonds cookery book has come to be seen as an icon of national identity, alongside the pavlova and buzzy bee – it was even chosen to adorn the 'E' in the A to Z of New Zealand stamp series produced by New Zealand Post in 2008.
Back cover of the 3rd edition.