Remembering Big Fresh, New Zealand’s Greatest Supermarket of All Time

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If you grew up in 1990’s New Zealand, you would remember the Big Fresh supermarket chain.

Image: The Standard

Looking back at popular 1990’s New Zealand supermarket chain Big Fresh, it seems like something from a dream. A food shopping Disneyland with live country music, a TV room for the kids, and giant animatronic vegetables swinging from the ceiling? Was that for real? Absolutely it was! For 15 glorious years the Big Fresh supermarket chain ruled in the minds of children and adults alike. 

While I was growing up, there were two places I considered to be better than anything. And there was one even better than that!

The two best places on earth were the Georgie Pie playground ball pit, and the Rotorua Toot & Whistle Park which smelled like farts and coal.

The BEST best place was Big Fresh.

Originally planned as a way busy working mums could drag their kids happily through domestic drudge work, it wasn’t long before Big Fresh stores became part of the tourist route.  Former Woolworths Managing Director and the creator of Big Fresh Graham Evans explains, “I wouldn’t say people stopped by the bus load, but people did come to check it out.”

For us New Zealand kids Big Fresh combined so many of the greatest things in life that it was a downright emotional experience being taken along for the weekly shop. Skipping from the family car to the store was an exercise in holding back and staying cool when what you really wanted to do was sprint and get to the best bits first.

  • Free food? Check.
  • TV room? Check.
  • Giant swinging (dancing?) anthropomorphic vegetables at every turn? Check.
  • Blaring live country music? (in hindsight this doesn’t seem like that much of a check)
  • That swinging monkey thing? CHECK.

And don’t get me started about how I felt whenever it was time to leave.

Do you have happy childhood memories of Best Fresh? What was your favorite thing about it?  Let us know in the comments…