Pictured above: Miles and Candace Rasmussen having some fun pulling one of their confetti-popping crackers.
Les Abercrombie visits a local Christmas cracker-making enterprise and discovers where the joy and fun begins.
Tucked away in the heart of Ballito’s industrial area is a business bringing joy to the world by handmaking literally millions of gorgeous, bespoke crackers every year. Crackers not only for Christmas, but for all occasions – weddings, birthdays, baptisms, anniversaries, parties, corporate events, they all go better with crackers.
Miles Rasmussen, one of the founders, took me on a tour of the factory floor. Here, during peak times, 200 women from neighbouring Shaka’s Head hand make and box crackers, each containing a hand-packed upmarket gift. In other areas of the warehouse recycled board is printed with bespoke designs and then machine-cut to the required size for the crackers and boxes. It reminded me of a happy family of littles elves scurrying about getting ready for a “grand event”. Miles said that the company culture, worker fairness and decent renumeration plus easy access to work has resulted in a stable, well-trained labour force. “And anyway,” he says, “it’s fun working here.”
“What do you tell people who ask you what you do?” Miles replied with a broad grin, “I tell them I’m a cracker-maker and that I sell joy and fun!”
Glenart was originally founded by Miles’ father, Rowan in 1994, who started out importing and supplying all forms of Christmas products. Over the years the business has specialised in manufacturing Christmas crackers, and eventually building their own custom factory on the North Coast.
Years before, Rowan had had an idea for a specialised cracker. Miles decided to take the risk and the small team knuckled down to patent, design and make Rowan’s idea a reality. And so, the Crackertoa®, a confetti-popping party cracker and their best-seller, was born. Innovative and pure, recyclable joy – as you pull a Crackertoa® cracker, a built-in confetti popper explodes confetti and streamers into the air causing even the grumpiest of guests to smile. It’s fun in a box.
In South Africa, Glenart initially only did business with contract wholesalers, working with their brands and designs. Miles then took another risk and started their own brand, Holly and Ivy®, which gave the team freedom of design and opened their market share. Holly and Ivy® is another success story. The brand is available from all the top Spars around the country, including Lifestyle Spar which has a number of Holly and Ivy displays. Holly and Ivy crackers are also sold in the UK, some European markets and Australia. Congratulations must also go to the team for recently securing a deal with Walmart in the USA.
A Crackertoa® Christmas to everyone. May your confetti shoot high and your smiles be wide.
|Legend has it that Christmas crackers, as were many other traditions, were invented in the UK during the Victorian Era by Thomas Smith, in about 1860. Thomas was a confectioner who came across paper-wrapped bon-bons while visiting Paris. He decided to emulate the idea in the form of a Christmas wrapper but then, watching logs crack in the fireplace one evening, worked out a way of adding a “crack” to his invention and voila! The Christmas cracker was born.
1848: Christmas trees, a German tradition, were introduced by Prince Albert.
1851: Henry Cole had the first Christmas cards designed and sent to friends and family.
1860: Thomas Smith produced the first Christmas crackers.
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