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Julius Romison, a Jewish immigrant, began manufacturing confectionery in Dunedin about 1884.
It is said that his first confectionery making in Dunedin was done at home in the wash-house/kitchen, where there was a boiler and equipment to shape and wrap sweets.
In about 1888 Julius Romison built a two-storied factory in Great King Street (now the premises of the University Bookshop).
His business grew to include the operation of three retail shops in Dunedin - two in Princess Street and one the High Street.
Romison's products included starch moulded confectionery, boiled sweets and chocolate tablets.
His products were highly regarded throughout the country, and at the 1890 Dunedin Exhibition he achieved the highest award for fancy confectionery. Julius Romison died in 1935 and the business, J Romison and Company, was put up for tender.
In 1937 Jack McNamara, backed by a group of Dunedin investors, acquired the plant and recipes, and that year established Romison's Confectionery Limited.
In 1946, the business became known as Regina Confections Limited. The name was derived from the "Regina" brand that was being used by the company to describe various products, including soft eating caramels and chocolate fruits.
Jack McNamara moved the business to the current Oamaru site in 1949. It was officially opened on 17 November of that year by the Minister of Industries and Commerce, Mr Arnold Nordmeyer by setting in motion the new master starch moulding plant.
Charles Diver, the confectioney chief and floor production manager was tasked with utilising waste product from other lollies of the time, and around 1952-54 the original classic Kiwi lolly, the Pineapple Chunk was born! In 1954 a joint venture was set up between Regina and Scanlen's Goblin Sweets Pty Ltd of Australia to produce chewing gum.
In 1970 a separate factory for chewing gum production was completed on the Regina site. In 1972 the Scanlen's share of the chewing gum business was taken over by A.W. Allen of Melbourne.
Many products were manufactured at the Oamaru factory over the years, including gums, jellies, toffees, high boiled sweets, compressed tablets, chocolate, muesli bars, bubble gum and chewing gum. Some renowned products include Pineapple Chunks, marshmallows, Cinnamon Bars, and the bubble gum collectors cards, manufactured under licence.
In 1983, Mr C D Castle, along with other Wellington entrepreneurs, considered Regina a useful vehicle for expansion, and under the name Charter Corporation they gained control of Regina's board.
By 1985-86, Regina was effectively under the Charter Corporation umbrella. The Charter/Regina "empire" collapsed following the 1987 sharemarket crash and, in 1988, the business was placed in receivership, and ultimately liquidation.
Regina was then purchased by a consortium comprising Amuri Corporation, The Oamaru Licensing Trust and Dunedin businessman, Nat Craig, and the business was renamed Regina (1988) Ltd.
In 1989 The Oamaru Licensing Trust withdrew, and by 1994 Amuri Corporation were the sole owners.
In 1995 Regina was sold to Nestle NZ Ltd. Nestle closed the factory in 2001, and moved production to Australia.
Innovex Holdings purchase the buildings from Nestle, and in June 2001, established Rainbow Confectionery Ltd.
That month, the new company, along with some of the original staff, started production, producing marshmallows, gums, fondants and chocolate enrobed products, with many other products planned.
In 2016 a $3 million expansion project was undertaken to create an additional 2100 square metres of factory space. It was completed in March 2017, boosting production capability from just above 2700 tonnes annually to 8000 tonnes per year.
Today we continue to manufacture a range of over 200 different confectionery lines from the Oamaru site and remain committed to providing our customers with quality, uniquely kiwi lollies.
The above is primarily from text supplied by the North Otago Museum. Photos of Julius Romison, and business, are courtesy of Julius Romison's grand-daughter, Rita Adler, Auckland.