Rush Munro's reveals age-old secrets

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LOOKING BACK: A historic shot of Rush Munro's, which is celebrating 90 years in business.
LOOKING BACK: A historic shot of Rush Munro's, which is celebrating 90 years in business.

Following an article in Hawke's Bay Today the family of Frederick Charles Rush Munro have come forward to reveal some secrets about the Hawke's Bay ice cream.

Mr Rush Munro's eldest granddaughter, Judith McMillan, 76, was keen to set the record straight about an important detail in the company's history.

She revealed that ice cream recipes and skills of the confectionery trade were likely passed on by Mr Rush Munro's mother Winifred, not his father as has been widely assumed for decades.

Winifred married Frederick Rush, who was a boot maker in London. When he passed away and following the loss of a younger son, she made the long boat trip to New Zealand with Frederick, 8, and his aunts, sailing from Gravesend in 1891 on the Ionic.

"In New Zealand Winifred Rush remarried Frederick Munro, and they ran a confectionery shop in Auckland, but we understand it was Winifred and her son, Frederick Rush Munro, who actually created the recipes," Mrs McMillan said.

Mr Rush Munro moved to Hawke's Bay from Auckland in 1926 with his second wife Catherine. With just 10 in his pocket he opened Rush Munro's in central Hastings on May 26.

When the first shop was destroyed in the 1931 Napier earthquake, Rush Munro's relocated to its current site at 704 Heretaunga Street West, which has evolved into a garden ice cream parlour.

"I remember visiting grandad during WWII with my mother and staying in the house behind the shop."

"Grandad used to scoop the ice cream into conical shapes, Italian style, there were milkshakes as well and hand-made sweets - sugar treats like butterscotch, barley sugar and stuffed dates, he had special equipment for shaping fondant. He always insisted on using the best ingredients."

For 90 years the parlour has been a Hawke's Bay institution, selling hand-made, batch-churned ice cream, in single or double scoops, piled high into a peaked cone, or served on a dish with a silver spoon.

In 1949 Frederick Rush Munro fell ill and sold Rush Munro's to ex-RAF pilot Mr John Caulton. The former owner stayed for six months to ensure unique recipes were passed on, before moving to Tirau, where he died in 1976.

Rush Munro's general manager Tom O'Sullivan said he was delighted the Rush Munro family has shared some of the historical secrets of Rush Munro's Ice Cream, just as it is about to celebrate its 90th birthday.

"We have been overwhelmed by the response from people all around the country who are sharing their memories. People have been sending in black and white photos and telling us their stories. We have also heard from a few staff who worked at the shop in the 1940s who are keen to be part of the celebrations."

"I am excited by the huge response from people who just love Rush Munro's and have such fond recollections of the ice cream and the gardens.

"It's fascinating to get an insight into its history as we move into the future."

Rush Munro's is celebrating its birthday on November 19, at the garden parlour and in the lead up to the party the ice cream maker has plenty of fun activities planned - including a week where 90+ year olds eat for free and 90 litres of ice cream will be given away.

As part of the 90 year celebrations, Rush Munro's is running a competition where Hawke's Bay residents can create their 90 Year Birthday Flavour.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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