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WA's Fast Food Boom

The late 20th century was marked by dramatic shifts in food culture and advertising. Eating moved from being a largely private activity, to becoming a more prominent and public pre-occupation. Increased affluence resulted in greater disposable income for special treats. This period saw the rise of 'fast food' in Western Australia, and a growth in advertising of food and dining experiences.

Beyond groceries

Reflecting these shifts, from the late 1960s, the Stevenson, Kinder & Scott Photographic Collection includes product shots of take-away and fast food meals. Advertising of food products expanded from essential groceries in newspaper advertisements and catalogues, to photographs of fast food 'family packs'. The imagery is of desirable, convenient, time-saving and life-enhancing gastronomic experiences.

Red Rooster meals, 1977, Stevenson, Kinder & Scott Corporate Photography. State Library of Western Australia, 3432335PD

Peter's Pie to Kentucky Fry

Peter's Pie satisfies!

Prior to the 1960s, Western Australians had limited take-away food options. Choice ranged from the local fish & chip shop, hamburger outlet or neighborhood bakery. The Peter's Pie, a family sized pastry meat pie, was introduced in February 1963 and became an instant take-away food mainstay. Popularity of the Peter's Pie subsided in later years with increased competition from newer fast food options.

A family eat a Peter's Pie, September 1972, Stevenson, Kinder & Scott corporate photography, State Library of Western Australia, 326879PD

Fried, Barbecued or Flame Grilled?

Fast food boomed between the 1970s and 1980s with the establishment of ‘home-grown’ Western Australian outlets: Red Rooster and Chicken Treat. They competed with local branches of American franchises: Kentucky Fried Chicken, Burger King (trademarked in Australia as Hungry Jacks) and later Pizza Hut and McDonald’s.

Kentucky Fried Chicken - Perth franchise opens in 1969

The first Western Australian franchise of Kentucky Fried Chicken opened on the corner of Canning Highway and Northlake Road in Alfred Cove in 1969. More franchises were constructed in the years following, including this store located at Carousel Shopping Centre.

Kentucky Fried Chicken. Store construction at Carousel Shopping Centre, 1971, Stevenson, Kinder & Scott Corporate Photography, State Library of Western Australia, 346326PD.

Hungry Jacks - Launches in Western Australia in 1971

Western Australia's first Hungry Jacks opened in Innaloo in April 1971. The Hungry Jacks brand was established because the name 'Burger King' had already been trademarked in Australia by an Adelaide based burger chain. Within the decade, Hungry Jacks had established 26 stores, including the Perth city store on William Street shown here.

Hungry Jack's 92-94 William Street, Perth, Around 1977, Stevenson, Kinder & Scott Corporate Photography. State Library of Western Australia, 336176PD

Red Rooster - Founded in Western Australia in 1972

Western Australian entrepreneur, Peter Kailis, founded Red Rooster and opened the first store in Kelmscott in 1972. Peter Kailis was the eldest son of George Kailis, a Greek migrant who had established a fish & chip shop in Perth in 1929. The family expanded to create the Kailis Bros Food Co.

Red Rooster Barbecued Chicken store, Western Australia, 1973, Stevenson, Kinder & Scott Corporate Photography, State Library of Western Australia, 359766PD.
Lionel Yorke (DJ at Radio 6PM) officially opens a Red Rooster Barbecued Chicken store, 1973, Stevenson, Kinder & Scott Corporate Photography, State Library of Western Australia, 360082PD.
Lionel Yorke officially opens a Red Rooster Barbecued Chicken store 1973 Stephenson, Kinder & Scott Corporate Photography State Library of Western Australia, , 360082PD

Chicken Treat - Founded in Western Australia in 1976

Chicken Treat was founded in Western Australia in 1976 by Frank Romano. The first store opened in Midland four years later. By 1989, Chicken Treat had expanded to 40 stores across regional WA and interstate. The Karratha store is shown here.

Chicken Treat, Karratha, 19 November 1981, Stevenson, Kinder & Scott photograph collection, State Library of Western Australia, 322503PD

McDonald's franchise opens in Perth in 1982

McDonald's first Western Australian franchise was opened by Norm Sinclair in 1982. The restaurant was located at Cinema City Arcade in Hay Street, shown here.

McDonalds and Pizza Hut at Cinema City Arcade, Hay St, Perth, 16 February 1988, Stevenson, Kinder & Scott Corporate Photography, State Library of Western Australia, 324773PD.
Opening of the McDonald's store located in Cinema City, Perth, 30 August 1982, Stevenson, Kinder & Scott Corporate Photography, State Library of Western Australia, 325530PD.
McDonald's at Shop 1 City Arcade, Hay Street, Perth, 16 February 1988, Stevenson, Kinder & Scott Corporate Photography, State Library of Western Australia, 324773PD.

All about the chicken

Mouth-watering, succulent barbecued chicken, hot chips, juicy peas and cold salads are among the Red Rooster take-away foods arranged in this studio photograph. The rooster shaped logo has changed very little since its inception and has become an icon of the brand. At the time this photograph was taken a stuffed chicken from Red Rooster cost $1.95.

The recipe (for chicken) after all these years is as good as it was when we first started.

- Peter Kailis, Red Rooster Video Interview, 2018

Red Rooster take away meals, 1973, Stevenson, Kinder & Scott Corporate Photography, State Library of Western Australia, 359946PD

Romantic three-course dinner for one?

Red Rooster VIP Dinner, 2 August 1977, Stevenson, Kinder & Scott Corporate Photography, State Library of Western Australia, 348276PD
THE V.I.P DINNER a great idea for your next party.

-VIP Dinner packaging, 1977

Red Rooster's V.I.P Dinner from the 1970s was complete with a prawn cocktail and generous serve of gravy. This photograph was staged using simple supports to display the food products. Zoom in to notice the edge of the glass cup used as a platform to raise the dinner plate. This photograph was likely staged for a display board or catalogue advertisement.

The rise of the brand

The early 1980s brought shifts in the way products were advertised and promoted to consumers. Advertising tactics broadened to focus less on individual products and more on brands. Accordingly, Stevenson, Kinder & Scott Corporate Photography were commissioned to photograph sponsorship activities and events. Television advertisements focused increasingly on the positive lifestyle benefits which could be gained from fast food consumption.

Flying high

Hot air ballooning at Northam, 1984 Stephenson, Kinder & Scott Corporate Photography State Library of Western Australia, 326694PD
Hot air ballooning at Northam, 1984 Stephenson, Kinder & Scott Corporate Photography, State Library of Western Australia, 3200899PD

All aboard

The Red Rooster Express Summer Girl ’81 sponsored by radio 6PM, 12 January 1981, Stephenson, Kinder & Scott Corporate Photography State Library of Western Australia, 329086PD
Summer Girl '81 sponsored by radio 6PM, 12 January 1981, 2 January 1981, Stephenson, Kinder & Scott Corporate Photography State Library of Western Australia, 329084PD

A 'Golden Age' of TV ads

The mid 1980s witnessed an increase in production of television advertisements. In this 'golden age' of television advertising, fast food commercials filled Western Australian living rooms. Celebrity brand endorsements and appearances were common, along with footage of happy families bonding over fast food in 'family restaurants' and over take-away meals in home dining rooms.

Advertising messages like, 'You deserve a break,' and 'Treat yourself and your whole family,' highlight how advertising tactics toward the late 1980s broadened from describing the attributes of products to illustrating how fast-food experiences would result in improved lives and increased happiness.

Chicken, burger, ham and Swiss...Red Rooster.

- 1989 Advertising slogan for chicken, bacon, ham and Swiss burger

Filming an advertisement for Red Rooster, 1989, Stevenson, Kinder & Scott Corporate Photography, State Library of Western Australia, 384016PD

1989 Red Rooster - chicken, bacon, ham, swiss television advertisment.

Australia, your chicken is ready! Red red ready, Red Rooster!

- 1987 Red Rooster advertising slogan

1987 Red Rooster 'Aussie Sunday' television advertisement. Written & Produced by Mojo Australia in 1985.

Chicken ain't chicken until you eat a Chicken Treat!

- 1987 Chicken Treat advertising slogan

A box for Chicken Treat take away food, 24 April 1990, Stevenson, Kinder & Scott Corporate Photography, State Library of Western Australia, 384085PD 

Chicken Treat's distinctive yellow and magenta stripes and yellow chicken logo shown on this packaging of the 'Quarter Chicken and Chips' from the 1990s was a departure from the original red and blue branding which was originally similar to major Western Australian rival, Red Rooster.

We treat the chicken right.

- 1990s Chicken Treat advertising slogan

1996 Chicken Treat television advertisement

By 1989, Chicken Treat had grown to 40 stores. An extensive television advertising campaign featuring celebrities such as Heath Ledger and Michael Caton followed in the 1990s.

It takes two hands to handle a whopper.

- 1971 Hungry Jacks advertising slogan

Hungry Jack's 92-94 William Street, Perth, approximately 1977, Stevenson, Kinder & Scott Corporate Photography, State Library of Western Australia, 336177PD
The burgers are bigger at Hungry Jacks.

- 1991 Hungry Jacks advertising slogan

You deserve a break today.

- 1983 McDonald's Australia advertising slogan

Opening of the McDonald's store located in Cinema City, Perth, 30 August 1982, Stevenson, Kinder & Scott Corporate Photography, State Library of Western Australia, 325528PD

1983 McDonalds television advertisement

Kentucky Fried Chicken. Made special to taste great.

- 1987 Kentucky Fried Chicken advertising slogan

Kentucky Fried Chicken fast food restaurant, Kalamunda, circa 1977, Stevenson, Kinder & Scott Corporate Photography, State Library of Western Australia, 326039PD

1987 Kentucky Fried Chicken television advertisement

Explore more

Further reading

  • Bannerman, C. (2011). Making Australian food history. Australian Humanities Review, 51, 49-63.
  • Crawford, R. (2008). But wait, there's more...: a history of Australian advertising, 1900-2000. Melbourne Univ. Publishing.
  • Crawford, R. (2006). Selling modernity: advertising and the construction of the culture of consumption in Australia, 1900-1950. ACH: The Journal of the History of Culture in Australia, (24-25).
  • O'Connell, J. (2017). A Timeline of Australian Food: From Mutton to MasterChef. NewSouth Publishing.
  • O'Connell, J. (2020) 'Australian Food History Timeline', < https://australianfoodtimeline.com.au/food-history-timeline/ > Accessed 10 March 2020
  • Pollay, R. W. (1985). The subsiding sizzle: A descriptive history of print advertising, 1900–1980. Journal of Marketing, 49(3), 24-37.
  • Ramamurthy, A. (2009). Spectacles and illusions: photography and commodity culture.
  • Schwarzkopf, S. (2011). The subsiding sizzle of advertising history. Journal of Historical Research in Marketing.

This digital story is part of a series created for the online exhibition Staged To Sell: Iconic Advertising Images from the Stevenson, Kinder & Scott Photographic Collection.

Created By
State Library of Western Australia
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Photographs - State Library of Western Australia pictorial collection