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Australia's Sweet Tooth

Humans are physiologically hardwired to love and seek out sweet things. It’s an ancient survival mechanism that evolved to prepare our bodies for periods of fasting when food supplies were scarce.

Like nicotine, alcohol and other drugs, sugar activates the reward system in our brains, resulting in the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine. It feels good, so we want to do it again.

The Australian ‘sweet tooth’ was born early and we know from ship’s records that the First Fleet in 1788 carried a load of sugar cane. Settlers attempted to grow it in and around Sydney but the climate was unsuitable. Eventually sugarcane fields were moved further north to follow the sun and, by the end of the nineteenth century Australia’s sugar-refining industries had reached a significant level, allowing export trade and opening the way for local confectionery manufacturing.

Cakes, biscuits, soft drinks and lollies (candy, sweets, whatever you call them) are now a ubiquitous part of the Australian experience. However, times change and so have our tastes, and as a result some brands and products have fallen by the wayside, remaining only in the memories of those who grew up with these long forgotten taste experiences. But there are a few, like the beloved Cherry Ripe, that have stood the test of time and as loved by today's generation of Australians as they were by generations past.

Polly Waffle (1947)

The Polly Waffle - a crispy wafer cylinder filled with marshmallow and dipped in chocolate - was one of Australia's favourites confectionery items during the 20th century. Hoadley's Chocolates made the first Polly Waffle bar in Melbourne in 1947. It was conceived by a company accounts supervisor and family friend, Mayfield B. Anthony.

During the 1970s, the advertising slogan for Polly Waffle was "mmm, crunch, aah!". In mid-2009, a new recipe for Polly Waffle was released along with new packaging announcing the change. The new product was the same appearance as the older product, but contained a more sugary and brittle wafer. On 23 November 2009 Nestlé discontinued Polly Waffle after 62 years due to poor sales.

In 2015, Melbourne-based company Chocolate Works released "The Great Aussie Waffle Log", a product specifically designed to mimic the Polly Waffle, in response to a social media campaign calling for the resurrection of the classic bar. In 2019, Adelaide confectioner Robern Menz signed a deal with Nestlé to produce the Polly Waffle, a year after purchasing the rights to produce the Violet Crumble, also from Nestlé.

Violet Crumble (1913)

When Abel Hoadley produced his first chocolate assortment, he packed it with a piece of honeycomb. The honeycomb became so popular that Hoadley decided to produce an individual honeycomb bar. This was not an easy task; as the pieces of honeycomb cooled, they absorbed moisture and started sticking together. Eventually, this hygroscopic nature of honeycomb led Hoadley to dip the honeycomb bars in chocolate, keeping the honeycomb dry and crunchy. Thus, in 1913, the Violet Crumble bar was created.

Hoadley wanted to call his new bar just Crumble, but learned that it was an unprotectable name. He thought of his wife (Susannah Ann née Barrett) and her favourite flower, the violet, and registered the name Violet Crumble, using a purple wrapper with a small flower logo. The confectionery bar was an instant success at the time and has remained popular into the twenty-first century.

Life Savers (1912)

The “candy with the hole” was invented in America in 1912 by Clarence Crane in Garrettsville, Ohio. Life Savers were a hard peppermint candy shaped like circular life-buoys thrown to rescue the drowning. Clarence Crane was the father of poet Hart Crane, who, ironically, would perish after flinging himself from an ocean liner in 1932. Four years after inventing them Crane sold the Life Savers brand and concept to E.J. Noble, who produced the sweets in a variety of flavours (Stik-O-Pep, Cinn-O-Mon, Vi-O-Let, Cl-O-Ve) and packaged them in foil rolls to keep them fresh.

In 1925, James Stedman-Henderson Sweets Ltd, who produced the Sweetacre brand of confectionery, introduced the American sweet Life-Savers to Australia, which they originally produced in Petersham. The company's founder James Stedman had been in the sweet-making business since 1850. Together with his six sons, he went on to develop the largest import wholesale and manufacturing confectionery business in Australia. Stedman’s 1908 prize-winning Lion Brand Confectionery, including Butter-Scotch and Tofflets, were justly celebrated.

Melbourne-based confectioners MacRobertson’s began to manufacture distribute Life Savers in the 1930s. Owing to the 44-hour working week being in vogue in the confectionery trade in New South Wales, it was decided to transfer the Life Savers' factory to Melbourne, to adjoin the establishment at Fitzroy, where the 48-hour week is in operation. .

An advertisement in the Geraldton Guardian and Express in 1932 encouraged children to come to the Saturday matinee at the local picture theatre with the offer of a ‘free sample of Lifesavers’ new products. This week’s new sample is “Musk”’. Rolls of Musk Life Savers were even included in military ration packs during World War II.

Life Savers are today manufatured in Australia by Darrell Lea bin Sydney. The confectionery company acquired the brand from Nestlé in 2018, and moved production from New Zealand to Ingleburn in Sydney.

Musk Sticks

By definition, musk is "a substance secreted in a glandular sac under the skin of the abdomen of the male musk deer, having a strong odor, and used in perfumery." It doesn’t seem to scream 'delicious flavor for a lolly, but in Australia and New Zealand, musk sticks, musk lollies, musk lifesavers and musk gum have been popular for many years. The musk flavour, with it’s floral undertones, is not related to the cosmetic musk perfume, yet it could well be described as having a strong "perfume" with a hint of rose water.

A medieval Arab recipe for a treat of sugar, honey, pistachios, rosewater, and musk calls the result “as delicious as can be,” while the British made musk lozenges that lovers used to sweeten their breath before a kiss. Because of its rarity, musk became one of the most valuable commodities in Asia. Himalayan hunters could make a living trading the glands or "musk pods" to travelling merchants, who brought the musk to the Middle East, and eventually, to the sultan's pantry.

18th century Musk lozenges (using newly-developed synthetic musk) must have been effective, because, by the 1860s, they were a treat for children as well as adults. In 1887, the Launceston Examiner tells us that a confectioner by the name of J. Beaumont imported five tanks and four cases of lollies, including "rose and musk lozenges".

Musk sticks first appear in print in Australia 30 years later, with an auction notice in The Sydney Morning Herald. On December 17, 1918, the cargo of the SS City of Karachi steamship was auctioned off, including "45 boxes of musk sticks". Sadly, the announcement doesn't record the origin of the lollies. The ship itself belonged to a London company and, just the previous month, had been transporting Australian troops home from World War I. But the brief reference does tell us that musk sticks were common enough by 1918 not to need further explanation. Musk was added to the Life Savers line-up in Australia around 1932, and has remained popular ever since.

The skinny, fairy-pink lollies are well-known throughout Australia and New Zealand but strangely, they remain a mystery to the rest of the world.

Kit Kat (1911)

The name ''Kit Kat'' was registered by Rowntrees in 1911. It derived from the famed 17th-century London literary and political organisation, the Kit Kat Club. The name lay dormant until 1937, when marketing director George Harris, who also presided over the creation of Black Magic chocolates, Aero and Smarties, used Kit Kat to brand a new chocolate-coated wafer finger confection that was created after a factory employee wrote to Harris saying he craved a treat that ''a man could have in his lunchbox for work''. The bar came to Australia in the 1950s and the famous slogan ''Have a break … have a Kit Kat'', coined in 1958, is still synonymous with the perennial favourite.

Smarties (1882)

Smarties are chocolate pellets with a colored shell of what confectioners call hard panning (essentially hardened sugar syrup) surrounding the outside, preventing the sweets from melting. They began life as Chocolate Beans in 1882 but in 1937 York-based manufacturer H.I. Rowntree & Company added red, yellow, orange, green, mauve and pink to the existing light and dark brown sweets and renamed the mix Smarties. Australia's Rowntrees followed suit.

At that time, the product was renamed "Smarties Chocolate Beans". Rowntree's was forced to drop the words "chocolate beans" almost immediately due to trading standards requirements (the use of the word "beans" was felt to be misleading as it was a manufactured product and not a plant based product which the word bean inferrred) so adopted the "Milk Chocolate in a Crisp Sugar Shell". Later, the sweet was rebranded as "Smarties".

To celebrate Smarties's 50th birthday, a blue Smartie replaced the light brown stalwart. Smarties are made by taking molten milk chocolate and pouring it between cold metal rollers to form the button shape. The centre is cooled and smoothed, sugar-coated and dried. Coloured sugar-coating is added, the lolly is polished and the different colours mixed together and packaged.

Smarties are not distributed (except via import) in the United States, where the rights to the name belong to the Smarties Candy Company, which manufactures its own hard tablet sweet under the registered trademark name Smarties.

The current Smarties slogan is "Only Smarties have the answer", which has been used since the late 1970s; however, the previous slogan, "Do you eat the red ones last?", is still occasionally used. In the 1950s and 1960s, the phrase "Buy some for Lulu" was sung as a tagline in commercials. In the end of the commercial, a boy/girl (usually a teacher or cowboy etc.) says the phrase and walks off, leaving the Rowntree text and the Smartie packaging on the screen for five seconds. This was before the rise of the singer Lulu. Lulu was one of the daughters of a developer of the advert, Richard Oxby.

M&M's (1941)

M&M's are multi-colored button-shaped chocolates, each of which has the letter "m" printed in lower case in white on one side, consisting of a candy shell surrounding a filling which varies depending upon the variety of M&M's. Related brands from Mars include Minstrels, Revels, Skittles, and Treets. M&M's are the flagship product of the Mars Wrigley Confectionery division of Mars, Incorporated.

Forrest Mars, Sr., son of the Mars Company founder, Frank C. Mars, copied the idea for the candy in the 1930s during the Spanish Civil War when he saw soldiers eating British-made Smarties. Mars received a patent for his own process on March 3, 1941. Production began in 1941 in a factory located at 285 Badger Avenue, Clinton Hill, Newark, New Jersey. When the company was founded it was M&M Limited. The two 'M's represent the names of Forrest E. Mars Sr., the founder of Newark Company, and Bruce Murrie, son of Hershey Chocolate's president William F. R. Murrie, who had a 20 percent share in the product. The arrangement allowed the candies to be made with Hershey chocolate, as Hershey had control of the rationed chocolate at the time.

In 1949, the brand introduced the tagline "Melts in your mouth, not in your hand." In 1950, a black "M" was imprinted on the candies giving them a unique trademark. It was changed to white in 1954. Over the years, marketing has helped build and expand the M&M's brand. Computer-animated graphics, personification of the candies as characters with cartoon-like storytelling, and various merchandising techniques including the introduction of new flavors, colors and customizable merchandise have helped to increase the brand's recognition as a candy icon.

Mars Bar (1932)

The chocolate-coated nougat and caramel treat was invented by Forrest C. Mars in Slough, England, in 1932,and has been among Australia's most popular lollies since its introduction here in 1954. The son of American candy maker Frank C. Mars, Forrest rented a factory in Slough and with a staff of twelve people, began manufacturing a chocolate bar consisting of nougat and caramel covered in milk chocolate (originally advertised as using Cadbury's chocolate couverture), modelled after his father's Milky Way bar, which was already popular in the US.

An American version of the Mars Bar was produced which had nougat and toasted almonds covered in milk chocolate; later, caramel was added to the recipe as well. The American version was discontinued in 2002, and then revived the following year under the name "Snickers Almond". When the Mars company began selling the “Milky Way” outside of America, with no nuts, in Canada and in the UK, they decided to call it a Mars Bar. The Canadian Mars bars, as with all Mars Bars outside the US, are very similar to the United States Milky Way, which Mars, Inc. also produces (not to be confused with the European version of Milky Way, which is similar to the United States' 3 Musketeers).

Over the years, there have been numerous spin-off versions launched - Mars Lite, Mars Lava, Mars Rocks, Mars Fling, Mars Chill and reduced-fat Mars Red - with varying degrees of success. The deep-fried Mars Bar, the product of fish shop proprietors dipping the lolly in batter and cooking it in boiling oil, for some reason failed to catch on.

Warheads (1975)

Wally Warheads, the cartoon character on the Warheads logo, had a mushroom cloud exploding from the top of his skull and those who gobbled the sweets in their '80s heyday would know how Wally felt. Warheads Extreme Sour Hard Lollies were invented in Taiwan in 1975 and came to Australia via the United States. The sizzling sensation in the mouth came courtesy of Warheads' malic acid coating. For a while, munching Warheads was a popular extreme sport as kids competed to see how many they could endure in their mouth at once. This led to a health warning being printed on the pack warning that a ''severe reaction'' could result.

Jaffas (1931)

Jaffas, the chocolate-coated orange balls that were as integral to a Saturday movie matinee as the cartoon and the cross bloke who patrolled the aisles with a torch, were first made in 1931 by James Stedman-Henderson's Sweets Ltd in Sydney. They were named by artist Len Gapp after a town in Palestine where oranges were grown for export, and the orange flavour was the work of Sweetacres food chemist Tom Colston Coggan, who formulated several different syrups before landing on the Jaffa coating whose taste has long defied replication by rivals.

The confectionery is currently made in Australia by Allen's lollies, a division of Nestlé and in New Zealand by RJ's Licorice in Levin.

Choo Choo Bar (1954)

The Choo-Choo Bar was originally made by Plaistowe in Western Australia. Hearsay suggests it arrived in the early 1950s – it was certainly advertised by 1954. The wrapper of the chewy liquorice-flavoured toffee bar originally depicted a train being driven by a very non politically correct gollywog. Choo-Choos were discontinued sometime in the 1990s after Nestlé acquired Plaistowe, but were revived after Lagoon Confectioners purchased the brand in 2007.

Minties (1922)

Minties were invented in 1922 by James Noble Stedman (1860–1944), son of Stedman-Henderson Sweets company founder (and Australia’s first confectioner) James Stedman (1840–1913). Minties were patented in 1926,and were manufactured at the Sweetacres factory at Rosebery and distributed by Nestlé from around 1930.

The company spent over £200,000 on its 16-acre Rosebery complex. The 12-acre factory on the site, designed by architect John Burcham Clamp , ensured all local sweet manufacture happened under the one roof with the various manufacturing branches in the city and Pyrmont being consolidated. The complex also provided for 1000-plus mainly female workers, with a large canteen and social hall, sports and cricket grounds, a library, band and sports clubs. In 1968, Stedman-Henderson was taken over by Hoadleys, which was acquired in 1971 by Rowntree’s which was taken over globally by Nestlé in 1981. Minties are now sold as Allens Minties. About 500 million are consumed each year.

In 1930 or 1931, a factory was set up in Auckland, New Zealand. Cadbury now manufactures the lollies as "Pascall Minties". In November 2009, Cadbury New Zealand announced they were moving production from Auckland to Thailand and changing to a softer formulation that would be less stressful to teeth and may be consumed more quickly). Curiously, the 200g packets sold in Australia as (Nestlé) Allens Minties in 2010 are clearly labelled "Made in New Zealand".

Minties' first cartoons, and the catchphrase "It's moments like these ..." appeared late in 1926; from then they provided an episodic documentation of an era. The famous line is among the longest-running in advertising history. At one stage in the 1940s Minties were using three different cartoons a week, appearing on every form of printed advertising. The cartoons, sometimes drawn by leading cartoonists Syd Nicholls and James Bancks, creators of iconic comic strips Fatty Finn and Ginger Meggs, depicting some hapless bloke in a precarious predicament, on the packets, wrappers and advertising hoardings, helped the lollies come into their own in the Depression when laughs were few.

The lolly wrappers (white waxed paper) were decorated only with the text "Minties" and "The Universal Sweet" in red and green. Many cartoonists have drawn "Minties moments". While many of the cartoons were unsigned, some of the better known names are:

Dick Alderton; George Aria; James Bancks (creator of "Ginger Meggs"); Ian Gall; Alex Gurney (created "Bluey and Curley"); Peter Harrigan "Middy"; Norman Hetherington "Heth" (created Mr Squiggle); Eric Jolliffe; Hardtmuth Lahm "Hotpoint" "Hotti" or "Hottie"; Percy Lindsay; F G Longstaff; Jack Lusby; Stewart McCrae "Pep"; Arthur Mailey; Emile Mercier; Syd Miller (Chesty Bond artist); Minainnick; Norm Mitchell; Rufus Morris; Morrissey; Syd Nicholls (creator of "Fatty Finn"); Adrienne Parkes; Petrov; William Edwin Pidgeon "Wep"; Hal Quinlan; Virgil Reilly "Virgil"; Jim Russell (drew "The Potts"); Ted Scorfield (largest number of contributions); David Souter; Les Such; Dorothy Wall; Harry John Weston (1874–1938); Unk White; Jeremy Andrew.

In the late 1990s, Minties released 'Spearmint Minties', but these were taken off the market before the end of 1999 as a result of changing tastes and falling sales. In 2013 Nestlé (Australia) introduced Allen's Minties "Smooth Mints Choc & Vanilla" which had choc-mint and vanilla-mint varieties in one packet.

Max-Mints were probably MacRobertson’s answer to Sweetacres Minties, which were launched in the mid 1920s. They looked remarkably similar. he Max-Mints Alphabet Book was an advertising pamphlet produced in 1927 and sent free of charge to any child who wrote to the company supplying their name and address.

Milo (1934)

The powdered chocolate malt drink Milo was created by food scientist Thomas Mayne (25 December 1901 – 25 January 1995) in 1934, a a time of great economic depression. The Milo story began in 1920, when Mr Mayne he went to work as a trainee chemical engineer for a company in Bacchus Marsh. When the firm was taken over by the Swiss giant Nestle, he went with it and in 1921 began a 50-year association.

The company transferred Mr Mayne to Sydney because he wanted to study chemical engineering. His studies at Sydney Technical College were undertaken at night while Mr Mayne continued to work at Nestle during the day. He was rewarded with a medal from the then governor of New South Wales, Sir Philip Game, as the student to attain the highest marks statewide in 1933.

Nestle wanted to develop a tonic drink that tasted good enough that children would eat it, whilst giving them the vitamins and minerals they needed, without costing families too much. The drink also had to be made from local ingredients such as malted barley, dried milk and cocoa. The task fell to Thomas Mayne who spent four years developing what we now know as MILO. Working 80 hours a week, with his wife typing up product reports at their kitchen table, Mr Mayne eventually succeeded in combining ingredients that Nestle specialised in manufacturing: cocoa, condensed milk and milk extract.

The Tonic Food he came up with was introduced to the public at the 1934 Sydney Royal Easter Show. He wanted to create a mix with vitamins and minerals that would dissolve when stirred, and not just fall to the bottom of the glass, but he couldn’t quite get there. Mr Mayne would bring home large lumps of semi-processed product for his children to try. One day, Mayne walked into his kitchen to discover his daughter, Margaret and her brother scooping the crunchy bits of MILO powder off the top of their drinks. It was then he realised that the crunch was not a problem, but a feature! And so MILO as we know it today was born.

Milo began production at the plant located in Smithtown, near Kempsey on the north coast of New South Wales, Mayne home town. He named the drink after Milo of Croton, a Greek wrestler who lived in the 6th Century BC and possessed legendary strength.

It took some convincing for Nestle executives to accept that the new product had been developed on the other side of the world. "The Swiss could not imagine an Australian invented it,'' Mr Mayne recalled. "I have found this all my life: people are not prepared to believe that Australians can do things.''

Milo became immensely popular and Mr Mayne spent much time travelling the globe to other Nestle plants advising on its manufacture. He remained with the company full-time until 1966 and as an adviser for another five years.

Cherry Ripe Bar (1924)

The Australian company MacRobertson's Steam Confectionery Works first manufactured the Cherry Ripe in 1924. The company was founded in Melbourne by Macpherson Robertson in 1880 and is famous for a number of iconic chocolates including the Freddo Frog. Larger than life, Robertson was renowned for his white suits, instinct for successful chocolate products, sponsoring an air race between Australia and England in 1934, participating in novelty bicycle displays, and opening a cycling school among other things.

Now Australia's oldest chocolate bar, the Cherry Ripe consists of a centre of cherry and coconut covered in Old Gold dark chocolate. A Roy Morgan survey in 2013 named the Cherry Ripe Australia s most popular chocolate bar and it has remained in the top three in subsequent surveys. While the MacRobertson company was sold to Cadbury in 1967, and their industrial buildings have now been converted into apartments, a cherry tree planted by the company still grows in the courtyard in tribute to the humble Cherry Ripe.

In 2015 the Cadbury's factory in Ringwood, Victoria processes 40 million Cherry Ripe bars annually, with six tonnes of chocolate being produced every two hours at the factory.
  • The Cherry Ripe Story

  • Crunchie Bar (1929)

    Crunchie is a brand of chocolate bar with a honeycomb toffee (or known as "sponge toffee" in Canada and "honeycomb" or "Cinder toffee" in the UK) sugar centre. It is made by Cadbury and was originally launched in the UK by J. S. Fry & Sons in 1929. Violet Crumble is a very similar product that was invented in Australia in 1913.

    The Crunchie bar is mentioned in Enid Bagnold's 1935 novel National Velvet, as the Brown sisters' sweet of choice for the year. In the 44 Scotland Street book "The Importance Of Being Seven" by Alexander McCall Smith, Stuart buys Bertie a mint Crunchie bar.

    Freddo (1930)

    In 1931, Harry Melbourne, 18 years of age and now known as the Freddo Frog Ideas Man, overheard someone suggest to the boss that his proposed new product should take the form of a mouse. Macpherson Robertson had actually been selling sugar mice way back when he first began, they were once a popular product. Mr. Melbourne chipped in: "That's rubbish. Women and children are afraid of mice; that won't sell. I reckon a frog ... kids love catching tadpoles and frogs."

    Macpherson Robertson gave him three days to come up with the moulds and have the product on his desk for sampling. Mr. Melbourne fashioned the moulds from German silver and had the first Freddo Frogs on the boss' desk, in four flavours, in the allocated time. Not long afterwards, he was told: "You've backed a winner" and promoted to foreman. Adding a touch of marketing savvy to his creative flair, he told the owner of the company, Sir Macpherson Robertson: "Call it Freddo, after Fred." - one of his mates at the factory, rather than press for it to be named 'Harry' as suggested by some co-workers.

    Harry Melbourne, born in Gainsborough in England in 1913, and coming to Australia as a 16 year old, was an ardent supporter of the Caulfield Football Club in the Victorian Football Association, and Caulfield South Cricket Club, where his son, also named Harry, played football and cricket. He was secretary of the football club for about 20 years and guided it through tough times to a premiership in 1973.

    He retired as a chocolate maker after 38 years, at age 57, rather than take a senior job at Cadbury after the takeover. He took a job as the keeper of Caulfield Town Hall, enabling him to devote more time to saving his beloved football club by raising funds for a new pavilion. Mr. Melbourne didn't receive a cent from his employer for his money-making suggestion, but it never bothered him. "Freddo was made for the love of the company," he told his family. A grateful Cadbury, however, kept him in chocolates and from time to time sought his advice.

    Mr. Melbourne didn't receive a cent from his employer for his money-making suggestion, but it never bothered him. "Freddo was made for the love of the company," he told his family. A grateful Cadbury, however, kept him in chocolates and from time to time sought his advice.

    Today Freddo is one of Cadbury Australia's best-selling products - 90 million Freddos are eaten every year in Australia.

    Roses Boxed Chocolate (1938)

    Cadbury Roses boxed chocolate was designed in 1938 to compete with 'twist wrap' chocolates. Within a year, Roses milk and plain chocolate assortments became one of the company’s most important products. They are named after the English packaging equipment company "Rose Brothers" (later Rose Forgrove), based in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, that manufactured and supplied the machines that wrapped the chocolates. They are an extremely common gift on Mothers Day and sell well throughout the Christmas period.

    They are most frequently advertised with the classic slogan of "Say 'Thank You', with Cadbury Roses" in the UK, New Zealand, and Australia, and "Thank you very much" on television advertisements.

    Picnic Bar (1959)

    Picnic bar’s unique combination of ingredients, including caramel, nuts, wafer and chocolate, represents another breakthrough in Cadbury’s product development. Today, the Picnic bar is Cadbury Australia’s second-biggest-selling chocolate bar. The UK and Indian versions differ from the Australasian version in that they also contain raisins. The Cadbury Picnic bar was first released in the UK in 1958.

    A marketing slogan for the Picnic, released in the early 2000s, was "Deliciously ugly". During the 1970s the Australian slogan for Picnic was "More like a banquet than a picnic". In Australia, limited-edition variants Picnic Honeycomb (a Picnic bar with honeycomb pieces), Picnic Hedgehog (a picnic bar with biscuit pieces) and Picnic Rocky Road (a Picnic bar with mini marshmallows and gumdrops) have been sold in recent years. In 2010, a limited edition Almond Picnic bar was made available in New Zealand and is now also available in Australia under the name Roast Almond Feast.

    Time Out Bar (1995)

    Time Out was originally a brand of chocolate bar manufactured by Cadbury Ireland. It was introduced in the United Kingdom and Ireland in 1992, followed by Australia and New Zealand in 1995. The launch of chocolate-covered wafer Time Out bar was a major success - the first brand to reach the top five best-selling bars in its first year. The bar was originally sold under the slogan "the wafer break with a layer of Flake". The bar is still available in Australia, manufactured by Cadbury.

    Favourites Boxed Chocolates (1998)

    Cadbury Australia introduced Favourites boxed chocolates in 1998, giving Cadbury fans a selection of their favourite Cadbury products in bite-size pieces. Each box includes Cadbury Dairy Milk, Cadbury Dairy Milk Caramello, Dream, Old Gold, Flake, Crunchie, Picnic, Boost, Moro, Cherry Ripe and Turkish Delight.

    Cadbury Dream Block (2001)

    The new Cadbury Dream block was promoted as "real whiter chocolate, wicked taste". Cadburys says it took four years of research to perfect the flavour. There have been claims the white chocolate is nothing but the same white chocolate used for baking and that all consumers get for the extra price they pay (around 20%) is fancy packaging and marketing. A Cadbury spokesman responded by sayings the company offered “high-quality chocolate with a consistent and familiar Cadbury taste across a range of different formats and for different uses”.

    Fantales (1928)

    Fantales were created by Sweetacres shortly after the ‘talkies’ arrived, and were produced specifically as a sweet to be sold to moviegoers. The chocolate-covered caramels were introduced by Sweetacres in 1930. On their wrappers were, literally, fan tales – brief biographies of movie stars. The tradition continues, with the stories updated every two years.

    Commercial movies with sound arrived in Australia in 1928 and along with them came more movie palaces. Admissions to the cinema increased by over 70 per cent, while admissions for every other kind of amusement declined. In the 1930s, movie stars like Humphrey Bogart, Clark Gable, Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant captured the popular imagination. Sweetacres were on a winner.

    Nestle was the sole distributing agent for Sweetacres throughout Australia. Today they own the Fantales brand, along with other famous Sweetacres products like Minties and Jaffas. Strangely, they are marketed under the Allen’s brand – originally a competitor to Sweetacres.

    The popularity of Fantales has endured. In a straw poll of The Canberra Times newsroom in 1988, they emerged as the most popular childhood lolly, beating out aniseed balls, humbugs, rainbow galls and cobbers. However, a BuzzFeed poll in 2014 put Fantales at No.11, with Caramello Koala coming out on top. Chocolate plus caramel. Seems to be a winning combination.

    Caramello Koalas

    Caramello Koala, manufactured by Cadbury Australia, consists of a chocolate cartoon koala (named "George" in certain advertising material) with a caramel centre. 40 million Caramello Koalas are sold in Australia each year, usually as a funraiser, making the product the second most popular in the Australian children's confectionery market, after the Freddo Frog. They were also sold in South Africa under the name "Caramello Bear", where they were marketed with the Caramello Bear admitting: "Caramel? That's a weakness!", but they were discontinued in 2012.

    Caramello Koala was introduced in Australia as the Caramello Bear in 1966. It was reputedly the first mass marketed confection to be modelled on Australian fauna. Television advertisements for the chocolate in Australia featured Caramello and his cartoon friends sailing down a river or riding on a steam train to a modified version of Donovan's "Mellow Yellow". Caramello's packaging and imagery was updated in 2000, after market research revealed the character was seen as daggy, one-dimensional and not sufficiently 'animated'.

    Scorched Peanut Bar

    The Scorched Peanut Bar, an Australian chocolate bar that contains peanuts baked in toffee and covered in chocolate, was originally made by Mastercraft. It was then manufactured by Cooks Confectionery, in Wollongong, New South Wales, then by Nestlé who later discontinued it In October 2019, the Scorched Peanut Bar was re-launched into the market by Cooks Confectionery.

    The product was promoted as "The Hard Bar" and was advertised using sexually suggestive and masculine imagery. One example of this suggestive advertising is a 1980s television commercial involving a rugged looking lumberjack felling and then straddling a tree and unsheathing a Scorched Peanut Bar on his thigh. An attractive female companion arrives and places her hand on the tree he is straddling. The ad attracted criticism and was subsequently replaced with a less controversial one.


    Inspired by the mythical Australian bush creature, Yowies were created in 1995 by Australian-based Brit Geoff Pike. Known for their environmentally conscious message and their (perhaps not so environmentally friendly?) plastic toy inside, the treat was a huge international success but was discontinued in 2005 due to a commercial dispute. Relaunched in the US in 2014, the tasty treats returned to Australia in 2017, once again putting their stamp on the field of chocolates with a product that's a lot like Kinder Surprises but different enough to avoid a lawsuit.

    Killer Pythons

    Originally made by Australian manufacturer Allen’s, Killer Pythons are still technically available but in 2014, fans were outraged as the massive jelly snakes were halved in size. Such was the furore, the story was reported in almost every major Australian news outlet, with people seemingly unaware they could just buy more than one if they wanted the same amount of snake as previously sold. Killer Pythons contain three times a human’s recommended daily sugar intake in one tasty treat.

    Wagon Wheels

    Wagon Wheels were created by Garry Weston, son of W. Garfield Weston. Garry worked for his father's business in Australia before taking over his family's business in England. He created the biscuit by placing two Marie biscuits around a marshmallow filling and covering it with chocolate. Consisting of two biscuits with marshmallow sandwich filling, covered in a chocolate-flavoured coating, they were introduced in 1948.

    The name (originally "Weston Wagon Wheels") relates to the shape of the biscuits and capitalized on the Wild West, which was popular in mass media at the time. Wagon Wheels are sold in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, other Commonwealth countries, and the Republic of Ireland. In Australia, Wagon Wheels are now produced by Arnott's Biscuits. George Weston Foods Limited sold the brand to Arnott's in August 2003.

    Interest in Wagon Wheels was at an all-time peak when the British comedians French and Saunders made a sketch with Jennifer Saunders dressed as a schoolgirl stuffing a Wagon Wheel into her mouth. British comedians Hale and Pace used Wagon Wheels in their recurring "Curly & Nige" sketches, as the Curly and Nige characters won Wagon Wheels from each other by doing self-mutilating and dangerous bets.

    Fruit Tingles

    Fruit Tingles have a long history in Australia and New Zealand, though details of their origin are sketchy. Originally manufactured by Allen's in Melbourne since the 1930s, they were rebranded in the 1990s as Wonka Fruit Tingles as part of Nestlé's purchase of the Allen's brand in 1985, and more recently became branded as Life Savers Fruit Tingles in the Asia Pacific region in 2005.

    As of April 2019, Life Saver branded Fruit Tingles are manufactured by Darrell Lea Confectionary in Ingleburn, NSW, Australia, with five types on sale: Fruit Tingles, Musk, Pep O Mint, Fruit Pastilles and Blackcurrant Pastilles. Fruit Tingles are unique in flavour, chalky textured, multicoloured, disc shaped, with a variety of fruit flavours and level of effervescence.

    White Knight

    The White Knight chocolate-coated, chewy, mint-flavoured confectionery bar is manufactured by Nestlé Australia and sold only in Australia. Its slogan is 'Mighty Mint Chew'. In the 1980s the bar used to lie on top of a piece of cardboard within the wrapper. On the reverse of the card was a picture of a fictional knight which could be bent at the base to stand up. Children would aim to trade and collect the set of these knights. This part of the packaging was discontinued years later, presumably as a cost-cutting measure.

    It was once sold across all major Australian supermarkets as well as some discount department stores (e.g. Kmart) and milk bars/convenience stores but as of 2014 was stocked only at Woolworths and Coles supermarkets and some specialty confectionery stores.


    A throwback to an era in which directly harming children was surprisingly acceptable, Fags were created by Australian Riviera Confectionery in 1943. As attitudes changed towards both smoking and the negative connotation surrounding the word, they became known as Fads in the '90s, and later Fads Fun Sticks. They are still available today, although parents can rest assured the smoking-related imagery has been removed, leaving kids with nothing but healthy, healthy sugar.


    Cobbers are an Aussie invention, and were produced by Allen's Sweets. The name of the chewy chocolated coated caramel blocks conjures up many Australian an Anzac sentiments of mate-ship and Aussie spirit. Indeed the name cobber itself is Australian parlance for good friend or “good mate” as we say here in Oz. A lot of older Aussies seem to remember cobbers being bigger than the current those currently available, but this may be because they were introduced to them as children, and things always seem bigger to children than to adults.

    The word Cobber probably has its origins in Yiddish chaber, ‘comrade’. It is first recorded in Australian English from the late 19th century, but came to have particular resonance during the First World War through its use by Australian soldiers. A small number of Australian English words have their likely origins in Yiddish, a Jewish language with its origins in German, and with several regional variations. Words with a Yiddish origin came into Australian English both through the migration of Yiddish speakers to Australia, as well as through transferred uses and variants of terms that had developed in British English and slang.

    Tim Tam

    The Tim Tam is Australia's favourite chocolate biscuit. A product of Arnott's Biscuits, a Tim Tam consists of two malted biscuits separated by a light chocolate cream filling and coated in a thin layer of textured chocolate. The biscuit was created by Ian Norris, who was the director of food technology at Arnott's. During 1958, he took a world trip looking for inspiration for new products. While in Britain, he found the Penguin biscuit and decided to "make a better one".Hitting the market in 1964, they were named by Ross Arnott, who attended the 1958 Kentucky Derby and decided that the name of the winning horse, Tim Tam, was perfect for the planned new line of biscuits. Tim Tams are now available in a variety of flavours which are variations of the popular original.

    The Tim Tam Slam is the practice of drinking a hot beverage through a Tim Tam. Opposite corners of the Tim Tam are bitten off, one end is submerged in the beverage, and the beverage sucked through the biscuit - as though the Tim Tam itself is a straw. The crisp interior biscuit is eventually softened and the outer chocolate coating begins to melt, at which point the biscuit is eaten. The Tim Tam Slam can also be performed with cold (usually milk-based) beverages.

    Macrobertson Columbine Caramels (1934)

    The Columbine Caramel was created as a result of Mac Robertson going to Amercia in 1893 to gather ideas for new products. He returned with a recipe which he was to christen the Columbine Caramel. It became an instant best seller and a favourite in the dress circle of Australia's cinemas half a century later.

    Some clever advertising contributed greatly to the caramel's success. One used in the 1970s depicted Michelangelo painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, with the caption: "Michelangelo, when are you gonna finish? (painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel)". "When I finish my Columbines!

    The origin of the name was not documented, however at the time of Robertson's visit to America there was a brand of Bon Bon manufactued under the Colombian candy brand name that were refered to as Columbines.

    In 1967 MacRobertson's was acquired by English confectioner Cadbury's, and the Columbine was rebranded as Pascall's Columbines. Pascall products were first produced as a joint venture between the Cadbury Brothers and James Pascall at the Cadbury factory in Tasmania, Australia. In 1981, Australian Pascall production moved from Tasmania to Melbourne, where they were made untill the line was discontinued in 2016.

    Allen's Freckles are delicious creamy milk chocolate buttons, coated with colourful 100's and 1000's to create a melting chocolate crunch.

Iconic Brands

Allen's Allen's

Hoadleys Hoadleys

Sweetacres Sweetacres

MacRobertsons MacRobertsons

Plaistowe Plaistowe

Mastercraft Mastercraft

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