Tasty Timaru treats for touring British and Irish Lions
Some of Timaru's well known food and a drink producers are fighting back against a poor portrayal of Timaru by the British and Irish Lions manager.
A wing for 1971 Lions, John Spencer labelled Timaru a "tumbleweed" town in just released book about the tour.
Timaru mayor Damon Odey saw red and issued a challenge to the Lions manager to come and see modern Timaru.
Spencer did not respond, so former Timaruvian Hayden Burford has offered to deliver some of Timaru's tastiest treats to Spencer before the first test.
Auckland-based Burford has an 'in' with the Lions, having supplied them with hand warmers for the tour.
"I emailed Warren Gatland offering to supply hand warmers and he surprised me by replying five hours later with a yes."
Burford then saw the story on the town he grew up in on Stuff.co.nz and came up with an idea to fight back.
"I thought it would be great to give John Spencer some of Timaru's iconic products, so he knew we had changed."
In 1971 Spencer bemoaned "the only entertainment they put on for us was to visit the freezing works and the lamb slaughterhouse".
The owners of Denheath Desserts, Bernie's Bakery and Heartland Potato Chips, as well as Washdyke-based DB Draught Brewery, were all keen to come to Timaru's defence.
Timaru District councillor Steve Wills was delighted by the response from the locals.
"Since he couldn't make it here I hope Mr Spencer enjoys our iconic Timaru products and gives the Lions team a taste.
"If he doesn't know Timaru is the centre of New Zealand he soon will."
Wills, who was capped 33 times for South Canterbury, joked the only tumbleweeds in the country seemed to be following the Lions, especially in Whangarei and Dunedin.
Bernie's Bakery owner Bernie Sugrue was delighted to provide May's pies to represent the province.
"I am sure he will enjoy them and the other Timaru treats."
Charlotte Bowan, from Heartland Potato Chips, said she hoped Spencer would enjoy some of the best chips in New Zealand.
"He will certainly remember Timaru in a more positive way."
Lisa Templeton, whose company Denheath makes the Kiwi custard square, said it was a great way to make a positive impression of Timaru.
"If the Lions eat enough of them it might slow them down."
Denheath and Heartland both export overseas, while Mays Pies can also be bought throughout the country and remain a favourite of many former Timaruvians.
Burford admitted when he returned to Timaru in his uni days he would always head to May's for a pie.
"I am definitely a big fan of the custard square as well but to be honest my favourite is Heartland chips. I am always trying to get my mates up in Auckland to try them."