To mark the relaunch of the site in September 2015, Alex Casey decided to rank the entire Little Shop collection from New World.
I see a girl screaming in the supermarket. She’s stamping her chubby feet and pulling at the tulle of her tutu in rage. “WHERE ARE THE LITTLE SHOPS MUMMY,” she shrieks, red-faced through tears. I turn slowly to realise I am facing a mirror. The girl, it’s me.
I’ve been a slave to the miniature ever since I went to the Martinborough fair at the age of nine and dropped my life savings ($30) on a tiny asparagus spear, tiny capsicum and tiny mushroom from an old woman with dreadlocks who definitely didn’t have a registered stall. I didn’t care, with that tiny asparagus spear in my hand I was Colossus, capable of conquering and crushing all things in my wake.
For a kid, I get the appeal of the miniature. You can’t control jack in your life, you have to go to terrible school, eat terrible vegetables, and wait for your terrible frontal lobes to develop. It’s a living nightmare but, given rule over a microcosm of the most adult world of them all (grocery shopping), you can become the master of your own universe. Put a small washing powder next to a chocolate bar, swipe your cardboard Fly Buys card as you take a tiny invisible sip of tiny invisible shaving cream, this crazy world is yours for the shaping.
But I’m not a kid any more. I go to the supermarket, I swipe a full size Fly Buys card (I don’t, I lost it) and I buy chocolate whenever I like. I have control over full size groceries, but I still can’t shake the Little Shop obsession. I feel a deep tremor in my heart every time the collections are announced, fingers trembling as I flick through the booklet of compact commodities.
Because I adore New World’s Little Shop and Kitchen with every inch of my terrible, pliable soul, I have also formed completely irrational and, at times, worrying reactions to some of the items within the collection. Finally given the perfect platform to exorcise my demons, I now present the first Little Kitchen power rankings.
1) Woman’s Day Magazine
When I die, please print my obituary in a tiny holographic copy of the Women’s Day. This very small magazine has filled a gap in my life that I didn’t know needed filling. Now I can carry a tiny photographic essay of Chris Hemsworth doing yoga on the beach in my pocket with me wherever life takes me. Maybe one day I’ll decide if “You’ll be a bit Thor” is the best or worst subheading ever written – but not today.
There’s a tiny gripping Prince George story, tiny beautiful memories from Izzy Dagg’s wedding and a tiny red carpet rundown from the Oscars. It’s an inspiring thing to see women getting torn down for wearing the wrong clothes, even in miniature. And don’t even get me started on the tiny recipe for tartlets. As if tartlets weren’t small enough already! Be still my beating heart.
2) Pringle Tube
I am absolutely charmed by this bold multifunctional take on a well-loved classic. Not only is the tube sturdy and perfectly rendered, but also alarmingly doubles as a covert kazoo. Makes me feel like some kind of party MacGyver who can get the crowd going in any situation with nothing but a small statuette of chippies and the air in my lungs. An innovative reminder of the exciting places that the miniature world can take us.
3) Box of Kleenex
I know what you’re thinking, this is an extremely controversial placing for a bog standard box mini, but this small pack of Kleenex is the pinnacle of simple, effective miniaturisation. The weight, the sturdiness, the overwhelming sense of soothing and comfort. “I can’t believe they didn’t make this smell like aloe vera” I grumbled initially. Seconds later I leant in, giving a tentative but hopeful sniff. And there it was, the clean, fresh leafy scent of my wildest dreams.
4) Tub of Ricotta
If only Michelangelo were alive to see this miniature tub of ricotta, as exquisitely carved as David’s marbled buttock. This is flash Italian-looking ricotta, not even the budget kind, with the proud “Perfect Italiano” label furthering it’s cultural clout. The Renaissance Man qualities continue with the fully sick ability to also glow in the dark. You can find me in the club, small ricotta tub…
5) Dettol Foaming Hand Wash
This very small foaming hand soap had me foaming at the mouth. The opaque white pump, the translucent pink body, the scratch and sniff rose and cherry bloom scent. If it had a tiny serving of non-perishable liquid swilling around inside it, I would probably have a hernia.
6) Crazy Colour-Change Milk
We’ve all enjoyed a tiny milk before, sure, but never one that has clearly been born out of divine magic. If you heat up the bottle in your hands it turns from pink to white. I’m impressed, but left a little uneasy by the transition. An optimist could be reminded of delicious strawberry milk, and a pessimist could focus on the time someone at primary school told them that cows bleed into the milk and it actually comes out pink.
7) Morning Fresh
If you can’t tell by now, I’m much more partial to the plastic form. The morning fresh bottle is extraordinarily detailed in the lid, with strong ridges and even that little inner nub to signify when the lid is perfectly closed. Delicious. I’m salivating over it which, handily enough, is just one way to make the liquid-sensitive label reveal a beautiful vista of lemons.
8) Leggo’s Bolognese Sauce
I immediately found this small jar of sauce quite alluring, with its charming lid (which almost seems like it could pop off!) and scented label. After a few sniffs, it started to smell a little bit like the back of the fridge. The worm has turned on this one, but I appreciate impressive commitment to a executing the more fringe “savoury” corner of the scratch and sniff world.
The first ‘bag’ entry has fought it’s way here on a wave of rustling and polystyrene cubes. Nice to see a generous two-pack, guess someone’s making a cheesecake base. Within the packaging are two solid plastic tubes that feel really excellent, all the satisfaction of squeezing a pack of biscuits without the treacherous crumb. Nothing to wine about here.
10) Schick Intuition Razor
A small label on the packet promises pomegranate extract, but there’ll be no smells around these prickly parts. Must applaud the astounding commitment to fulfilling the entire shape of the razor packet, easily the world’s peskiest packaging.
11) Glad Cling Wrap
I feel truly blessed to be in the presence of this magnificent creation, a household staple seldom given the praise and attention that being made a mini provides. It’s long overdue. Adding a tiny slide cutter bar would have really made this one soar, but the intoxicating smell of watermelon wafting off the scented photograph made me forget everything I’ve ever known.
12) Uno Strawberry
This smooth strawberry squirt yoghurt has an earth-shatteringly detailed lid. I have never seen such a well-rendered miniature lid in all my years.
13) Meganuts Bar
Stick this tiny magnetic muesli bar to a rocket and send it into space, for it is now the universal symbol of human innovation reaching its absolute peak.
14) Keri Orange Juice
The famous orange juice has been miniaturised before… but never like this. The big Keri juice smells of orange, not necessarily orange juice – but definitely orange.
15) Edmonds Vanilla Cupcakes
I love the Kiwiana nostalgia wrapped up in this boxed Edmonds treat, but am not about to let my national pride cloud the observation that this definitely smells like old Play Doh.
16) Buzzy Olive Oil
This olive oil is beautiful, but sullied by the holographic label that failed to show up on camera. Like an Italian grandmother at a nightclub, I know it’s having a lot of fun but it really shouldn’t be here. Don’t tell it about the glowing ricotta over by the bar, or we’ll never get out of here.
The label on this solid little mini colour-changes with water, which is a very stressful concept for anyone who has ever dropped a kitchen roll in the sink.
This is a stout, glorified tube in crumpet clothing, given the artistic reprieve of very small dots on either side. The colour change label weirdly turns yellow, which makes it look like it’s been left out in the sun for a very long time.
19) Chicken Nuggets
This would be lower in the list if it wasn’t for the packet absolutely nailing the texture of a chicken nugget bag. For anyone who has ever fumbled their way through a darkened freezer to find a delicious chicken morsel – this is a sensory throwback that must be felt to be believed.
Although being exceptionally heavy due to having a truly massive magnet inside, this Nutrigrain box definitely makes me feel like I could run a tiny marathon whilst doing a tiny Wilhelm scream. At the very least.
Batteries have already been done to death in this collection, but the glow in the dark function could actually come in handy when your actual full size batteries run out on your full size torch. Good luck for the rest of your hike, here have some tiny Nutrigrain. Also look at the crazy detailed perforation to hang it on the shop shelf. Drool.
20) Nescafe Cappuccino
A sad missed opportunity for a delicious coffee scent, instead delivering yet another box with a magnet inside it. I feel nothing but longing for what could have been.
21) Finish Powder
All I want is to caress this tiny Finish powder mini and feel a tiny powerball under my sweaty fingertips. Is that too much to ask?
Look, i’ve been rubbing this tiny box of popcorn for the past five minutes like a cinema patron trying to start a small fire before the trailers finish, and the label has only slightly changed from black to a mild brown. Me hands are chafing.
23) Cat Biscuits
I’m going to let the cat out of the bag here: this mini isn’t living up to it’s full potential. A real “smart blend” would have chopped up the polystyrene finely to emulate that real biscuit feel.
A difficult placement for this polarising take on a New Zealand classic. Some love it, others hate it. To me, the harsh cubist rendering on infamously squishy product feels threatening, dystopian almost.
25) Fruit Kiwiana VInes
Definitely a very sparkly box, I’ll give it that. Why is the blueberry on it wearing a pair of jandals? There’s a fun maze on the back, but I’ll warn you not to strain to hard trying to read or one of your eyes will pop out like Thingee.
26) Uncle Ben’s Brown Rice
Ben, you’ve always been like an uncle to me, but this is not the kind of rice I can throw around at my tiny wedding. In fact, you aren’t even invited to my wedding. For all the trappings that this mini sadly falls into (bag, block of polystyrene), it’s good to at least get some brown rice nutrients in front of the kiddies.
27) Fancy Bag of Tuna
A lovely tuna-themed magnet to give to someone you don’t like very much.
28) Frozen Blueberries
On Monday I fell down the stairs and spilled a giant glass of blueberry smoothie across our cream carpet. For that reason, I feel like I am being personally victimised by this tiny scented box of frozen blueberries.
29) Huge Tomato
After rubbing this between my hands for hours like a greedy tomato baron, the label revealed itself to say “NZ’s favourite”. Which is sort of right, as science has proven that tomato sauce keeps our meat pie hearts beating. Why not go full hog and make this a tiny classic kiwiana sauce bottle to smack next to the barbie as we watch the boys in black march out to The Hobbit song?
30) Upbeat Pineapple
This friendly wee pineapple would normally have gone lower in the piece, but I was struck by not only it’s enchanting scent, but the unwavering optimism communicated the small thumbs up. I see you pineapple. Beneath those perfectly coiffed eyelashes, there’s a hell of a lot of sadness in those eyes. But this pineapple still trucks along, a testament to the endurance of the anthropomorphised-fruit-as-human spirit.
31) Huge Peach
Roald Dahl is rolling in his grave right now at this macabre rendition of his infamous giant peach. One of my all-time biggest gripes that I choose to hold during my precious time on this planet is the absurd scale of the Little Shop fruit. As exhilarating as the idea of a peach bigger than a box of tissues is, we have certain rules in this world for a reason. Smells good though.
32) Kashin Moneybank
I have never gone to the supermarket and bought a small statuette of a local dead elephant to shove my pennies in before, nor will I ever.
33) Suspicious Banana
Where the anthropomorphised pineapple provided a sense of shrouded despair, evoking much empathy in this cold heart – this banana just looks like a damn menace. Why are the legs crossed? It’s either incredible defensive or about to piss all over the floor. And I’m confused about why it’s wearing gloves, but looking forward to waking up in the middle of the night to feel those tiny murderous banana hands around my throat.
34) Fly Buys Stamp
This is some sort of depraved bargain-hunter Fly Buys stamp, which has suffered massively via it a) not being something you can by on the supermarket shelf and b) not coming with an ink pad. You leave me no choice New World, but to repurpose this useless stamp into a small beret for my cat.
35) Macleans Mystery Box
WHAT IS THIS? Is it a small suitcase or a tiny tomb for my soul? What we have here is a plastic box with a picture of a mouthwash, a toothpaste and a toothbrush on it. Is the Pandora’s Box of minis, waiting to release the evil side of our Little World? If so, bring on the tiny bourbon, tiny kitchen knife and tiny cigarettes.