The Confectionery Kings: Robertson, Allen and Hoadley

School of History Seminar Series


Speaker: Jacqui Donegan, PhD Candidate, School of History

Mainstream Australian historiography tends to regard confectionery as trivial and irrelevant. Yet, in the early to mid-20th century, Australia’s richest entrepreneur and one of the country’s most influential personages was a maker of sweets, Macpherson Robertson (1859–1945). His two major competitors Alfred Allen (1870–1925) and Abel Hoadley (1844–1918) were also figures of considerable influence and worth in Australian economic life. In composite, this triumvirate presented a benign image of kindly craftsmanship and juvenile joy. In reality, Robertson, Allen and Hoadley exemplified an extreme form of piratic capitalism that flouted commercial conventions and legal frameworks. These men, rather than servicing the established colonial imperative of the British metropolis, daringly traversed the periphery and raided American business models. Their legacy is iconic brands that endure to this day. This seminar explores the associated lives of Australia’s confectionery kings by employing business history, food history, and critical masters of industry biography.

Jacqui Donegan holds the Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarship for Doctoral Study at the ANU and the Alfred D. Chandler Travel Fellowship at Harvard Business School. She completed undergraduate studies at the University of Queensland where her biography of the Australian swimmer/vaudevillian Annette Kellerman (1886–1975) was awarded the University Medal and the History Honours Research Prize. Much of this research was undertaken while interning at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC. She has been published in peer-reviewed journals on topics examining national identity, transnationalism and popular culture. Last year she consulted on the Disney biopic of P.L. Travers, Saving Mr Banks.


Date & time

Wed 25 Mar 2015, 4.15–5.30pm


McDonald Room, Menzies Library

Event series


School of History


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