Martha’s Backyward, the Auckland store that sells imported American products. I didn’t realise at the time that I last shopped there in May, 2010, when they were still at their old location. I wanted to go there to pick up some authentic American snacks to have while we watch the election results from the US.
The new store is in a MUCH better location, it seemed larger than the old one, and it was certainly better stocked. Also, the prices are surprisingly reasonable, especially considering they’re imported in relatively small amounts. Many of the products are super-duper sized (like enormous boxes of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, apparently with individual ones inside; I didn’t buy any), and enormous containers of ground coffee.
The store was quite busy when we were there, early Sunday afternoon, and I noticed something fascinating. Among some of the shoppers there was an almost frenzy-like behaviour, as if they had to stock up on their favourite products quickly, before they were sold out. Most people weren’t like that, of course, and I also noticed quite a few Kiwi accents among the shoppers, as well as some I couldn’t identify. I realised the store is also popular among people who have simply spent time in the USA or Canada, not just American expats. I don’t know why I hadn’t realised that before.
The products I bought were mostly normal-sized (the A-1 was the largest size they had), and even if the packaging had changed from what I remembered, the brands were familiar. I didn’t buy everything I thought of buying, and there were some repeats from my first trip as well as my second trip. Still, it wasn’t totally the same. Photo of the latest haul is above.
Of special note (for me) were the Little Debbie Nutty Bars, something I’ve told Americans that I really did miss about the USA (and some threatened to send me some…). Yes, we have Ginger Ale in New Zealand, but it is more ginger-y and almost burns compared to Canada Dry (the brand I bought in the US). Similarly, we do have pickles (usually called “gherkins”), but they’re noting like Kosher Dills, and usually smaller. Most of the rest was, as it often is, for nostalgia’s sake.
The ice tea mix was also a variation on something I can get at our local grocery store: I can buy ready-made, bottled Lipton ice tea in several flavours. However, they don’t sell ice tea mix, and when I want just a glass, it’s far more convenient than the jar-in-the-sun method (which I used when I first moved to New Zealand). However, I didn’t see any of “the largest container of ice tea mix I’ve seen in my life” like I did the first trip, and the size I bought was respectable. This is actually almost defiantly American: I don’t know of any Kiwis who drink ice tea, though someone besides me must!
We’re pretty much all set for watching the election results: Nigel’s sister and niece bought snacks there, too, to bring with them, as well as an American flag-themed party snack tray thingy. Between us, we should have a pretty good—and pretty authentic— spread of American snacks.
Martha’s Backyard (pictured at right) is a must-visit stop for any American expat in Auckland, and also those who spent time in North America. If nothing else, it’ll be kind of like visiting home without going there.
The store is located in the Harvey Norman Plaza, 44 Mt Wellington Highway, Mt Wellington, Auckland (next to Rebel Sport, blue building at the end). They’re open seven days from 10am to 5pm. (09) 570-7976. They also have a Facebook Page, and can be found on Twitter.