Benson’s History Blog

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Back To The Beginning…

For over six decades, one Australian family – the Bensons of Bensons Trading, have dominated the showbag circuit. Bensons brand is established as a market leader in the space, with a wholesale market of Showbags, Novelty & Gift Items, Inflatables and Plush items for Gaming Machines. But there was an idea long before: Freddo frog, Bluey Toy Show bags, Cadbury Showbags, Kids party favours and Fetes. Have you ever wondered how Bensons showbags got their start? Let’s take a trip down memory lane!

The original ‘showbag’ idea was formulated in the early 1900s, in which paper bags were filled with everyday item samples such as boot polish and canned meat to promote many different small businesses. This helped during the Great Depression, as families could get more for their dollar for a fraction of the price.

Then, in 1947 in Melbourne, William Benson Atkinson decided to found Bensons Trading Company. Post-war, the company starts selling rocking horses and small kitchen gadgets, and business is steady. The company would eventually stock over 6000 products! The company took off during the 1960s when confectionary and novelty showbags were introduced–the most popular showbags during the decade were the Nestle showbag and Yogi Bear showbag!

Unfortunately, William passed away in 1968 from a heart attack, co-incidentally at a Melbourne show. The company was taken over by Muriel Benson and continued to thrive. 

During the 1970s, MASH and Freddo became the most popular showbags, and Bensons trading continued strengthening relationships with consumers and major companies. 

This was intensified further in the 1980s when the rights to represent Cadbury and Allen’s range were purchased. This was a game changer, as six bags were introduced instantly. (There are over 20 today!) The top seller of the 1980s was Barbie! No surprise there! 

By the 1990s more influential partnerships were formulated, including with Mattel, Barbie and Hot Wheels. These partnerships are flourishing today, and the products are as popular as ever. The most popular products for the decade? The Simpsons and Bananas in Pyjamas! 

Moving into the 2000s, Freddo surged to popularity again and throughout the 2010’s Dora the Explorer was the top seller.

During 2020 when the pandemic hit and events and major shows were cancelled, Benson’s didn’t miss a beat and emphasized their online presence. The top selling items during this time were the Bluey showbag and Cadbury Dairy Milk.


Over the decades, it is very telling the influence pop culture has on the industry. Some TV shows skyrocket to fame for a year or two and then disappear, so those bags had a much shorter appeal overall but still created an impact. The highest-selling showbag overall, though? Cadbury chocolate bags! Children’s character bags closely followed these. The showbags expected to succeed this year are Super Slime, Peppa Pig, Where’s Wally and Hatchimals. We can’t help but wonder what will gain interest in the coming decade?

The Best Is Yet To Come!

It’s been an honour helping people enjoy their uniquely Australian shows, Christmas’ and special occasions that little bit more. We hope to have another 60 years in business! Click here to browse your current favourites (or maybe find a new favourite)!

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