Georgie Pie Nostalgia

Georgie Pie – New Zealand’s own answer to McDonalds, featuring meat pies instead of burgers – began life in the 70s. But in the early 1990s, a ‘perfect storm’ of events significantly boosted the fortunes of the company, triggering a rapid over-expansion of franchises which, like all great empires, eventually caused the company to implode.

And even though Georgie Pie is also the single biggest contributing factor to an alarming rise in teenage bowel cancer during the same period1, Kiwis, particularly late 20s and thirty somethings, still get all misty eyed at it’s memory, and fall over themselves in support of any campaign to bring it back. So why is this?

The answer lies in the events leading up to Georgie Pie’s spectacular rise and fall.

The first of these, was when, sometime in early 1992, Georgie Pie Greenlane, Auckland (then the biggest restaurant in a relatively small chain) became the first fast food restaurant in New Zealand to open it’s doors 24 hours a day. This was followed by the second great event…The Dollar Menu.

The concept was simple enough – price every item on the menu at either $1, $2, $3 or $4 – but it was fundamentally flawed. In order to combat the upward price pressure of economic inflation, the restaurant cut costs on their product lines, removing from their meat pies such unnecessarily expensive ingredients as… meat.

However, in the early days the menu, combined with 24 hour trading, was a phenomenal success. On any given night, between 1am and 5am, Greenlane Georgie Pie was packed to the gills with stoned, teenage kids, each feeding their munchies on four small $1 mince and cheese pies, and a chocolate thick shake.

The winning concept was quickly repackaged and franchised nationwide. There was much speculation in the press of when ‘God’s Own’ version of Maccas would expand into Australia, and, perhaps, the world. And mate! Wouldn’t that just finally put new zealand on the map!

But it didn’t last. Just when the company had overcapitalised themselves to the eyeballs, expanding into every nook and pie-loving cranny of New Zealand, inflation, and complaints about substandard quality, finally got the better of them. The Dollar Menu could not longer be sustained, and was quickly redrafted to a standard pricing structure. And although the actual prices barely went up a notch (it was more like $1.20), for their army of loyal fans, there was suddenly no point in going. Sales dropped off, stores closed, and eventually 90% of locations were sold to the McDonalds corporation.

In reality, the whole business model was doomed from the start. The restaurants were plastic, with terrible cream and brown decor. The pies stodgy, and, eventually, meatless. Even the children’s playgrounds were considerably shitter, and more likely to lead to broken fingers or missing teeth, than McD’s. But all of these significant points are conveniently glossed over by Kiwis, when reminiscing about how much they wish Georgie Pie would re-open.

What New Zealand’s generation X’rs and Y’s really remember is, a time, so very different from their present lives, when they could stay up all night getting stoned and eating dollar pies, without either waking up with a hangover, or getting really, really (really) fat.

Do most Kiwis really want Georgie Pie to re-open? Or do they, in fact, just wish they were still teenagers.

Because at least that is a type of nostalgia that everyone can relate to.

  1. This fact is speculative, not actually proven, and Kiwianarama can not be held accountable2 for any loss of income, status, or hair that may result from it’s reprinting.
  2. Technically, we probably can, but it would take a lot of lawyers, and somebody with nothing else better to do, and probably no friends. A real dick, in other words. And would it really be worth it? We think not. In fact, we’re banking our entire liability insurance3 on it!
  3. does not currently hold any liability insurance policies.