The Pollywaffle chocolate bar was introduced in 1947 by Hoadley’s Chocolates. It consisted of marshmallow inside a chocolate coated wafer tube and became a longstanding favourite with generations of Australians. Hoadley’s were taken over by Rowntree, then by Nestlé, whose Kit Kat product ate into the Pollywaffle market share. It was discontinued in November 2009. But in January 2019 Robern Menz announced they had bought the brand from Nestlé and planned to manufacture it in Adelaide. More
Domino’s, who pioneered home delivery of pizza in Australia, released its first fast food app in 2009. The app allowed customers to order their pizza on their phones and track the delivery from the store to their door. Other fast food chains soon followed, with Pizza Hut introducing its app in 2010 and Starbucks introducing an “Order & Pay” app to help customers avoid the queues. More
South Australia was the first Australian state to ban lightweight plastic supermarket bags, phasing in the new laws from 1 January to 4 May, 2009. The ban aimed to reduce the more than four billion plastic checkout bags Australians used each year. The Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory introduced similar bans in 2011. At the time of the South Australian ban, China, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Rwanda had already banned light weight plastic bags. More
The first of the MasterChef Australia TV series went to air on 27 April and kept viewers enthralled until 19 July. The reality TV/cooking show put contestants through a gruelling series of challenges and eliminations. It changed attitudes to cooking and even had 12 year-olds talking about “plating up”. This was to be the first of many MasterChef series. Food writer Matt Preston has been a judge and host of the series since its inception. More
Starbucks closed 62 of their 85 Australian stores across Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra, the Gold Coast, Melbourne, South Australia and Tasmania, saying they were under-performing and blaming “business challenges unique to the Australian market”. Meaning, perhaps, that we recognise good (and bad) coffee when we taste it. > The Age More
An AC Nielson survey in April 2008 showed that still water had a 9.9% market share of non-alcoholic ready-to-drink products, with mineral waters having a further 2.2% share. Bottled water was one of the fastest growing beverages over the previous six years with average growth of 10% per annum. More
The United Nations declared 2008 the International Year of the Potato, to focus world attention on the role that the potato can play in providing food security. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there are, on average, about 190,000 square kilometres of potatoes under crop every year worldwide. The potato remains Australia’s favourite vegetable, consumed mainly as chips. More
Launched by three partners in the USA in 2006, Urbanspoon provided an online forum for peer-reviewing of restaurants. The service expanded to Australia in 2008 and is still the leading referral site for the industry. Urbanspoon and its competitors put restaurant rating in the hands of customers, rather than professional reviewers. More
The Anzac Biscuit recipe is protected under Australian legislation, policed by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Commercially made Anzac Biscuits must be made to the traditional recipe – a task which was too difficult for Subway. The chain ceased to sell the biscuits after a legal challenge from the Department. More
By 2008, approximately 13 million credit cards and 28 million debit cards were on issue in Australia. Visa said the Debit Card was the fastest growing consumer product ever released by their company. By 2005, Debit Cards were used an average of 166 times per user annually and in 2006 “tap and go” technology arrived. Shopping with plastic had become a way of life. More
The occasion prompted a feature wherein several of the Good Living writers over the years reflected on changes over the past 25 years. David Dale went so far as to list the various food fads from 1982 (raspberry vinegar) to 2007 (organic everything). Not all readers agreed with his chronology, but most of us remember these culinary milestones, including sticky date pudding, pork belly and scallops, mushroom risotto and caesar salad.
The term “locavore“ was named the Word of the Year for 2007 in the Oxford American Dictionary. Locavore was coined by a group of women in San Francisco, who encouraged people to eat food produced within a 100 mile radius of where they lived. Runners up for Word of the Year included: cougar: an older woman who romantically pursues younger men and upcycling: the transformation of waste materials into something more useful or valuable. More
Although Australia’s first farmed black truffle was harvested in 1999 in Tasmania, Australia’s first truffle festival took place in an outer suburb of Perth – Mundaring. The truffles came from Manjimup, 300km or so to the south. The festival ran successfully for six years and in 2012 was named among the top five truffle festivals of the world. In 2013, though, insurance issues brought the organisers into conflict with their State Government sponsors and the festival was cancelled. More
The Iced Vo Vo is a sweet biscuit first made by Arnott’s around 1904. It has two strips of pink icing and a strip of jam on top and is covered in desiccated coconut. Sales of the biscuit were boosted when Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, referred to it in his victory speech after the 2007 election, saying: “Friends, tomorrow, the work begins. You can have a strong cup of tea if you want, even an Iced VoVo on the way through. But the celebration stops there.”
Two million food books, worth almost sixty million dollars, were sold in Australia this year (Neilsen Bookscan). Writing about food and drink in fiction and non fiction formats makes up a significant proportion of the books written, published, sold and read each year in Australia and other parts of the English-speaking world.
Thanks to the popularity of the American TV series Sex and the City, these highly decorated little cakes, the signature product of New York city’s Magnolia Bakery, became objects of desire. The cupcake craze swept the world and took hold in Australia. By 2013, business pundits were predicting its demise, but some businesses are hanging on.
At the second National Australian Farmers’ Markets Conference in Albury Wodonga the first substantive Australian research into farmers’ markets was presented. It put the estimated value of produce sold through farmers’ markets at around $40 million. The report was compiled for the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) now known as Agrifutures. More
As a response to declining lamb sales, the Australian Meat and Livestock Corporation recruited former Aussie Rules footballer and media personality Sam Kekovich to be their “Lambassador“. Sam’s first 90-second diatribe condemned vegetarians as un-Australian. Annual rants have continued to promote lamb for Australia Day, resulting in a spike in lamb sales in the week leading up to the national holiday. More
The American documentary film Super Size Me by director Morgan Spurlock aimed to expose the evils of fast food. The film tracked the dire consequences of eating three McDonald’s meals a day for 30 consecutive days. Fast food retailers countered with the argument that their food was meant to be part of an overall balanced diet, not a complete way of eating. More
Barcelona-born Frank Camorra opened Mo Vida in lane-way in Melbourne, with tapas as bar food and more substantial plates to share. The restaurant was named after the Mo Vida movement in music and the arts that erupted in Spain when the dictator Franco died in 1975. It claims to ‘embrace the spirit, the fun, the essence of the great bars of Spain’. More
The el Bulli restaurant in Roses, Catalonia, under chef Ferran Adrià, was named best restaurant in the world by Restaurant magazine. Its elevation helped to focus culinary attention on Spain and fuelled a trend towards Spanish cuisine in Australia. El Bulli remained in the top three until its closure in July 2011 and claimed the top spot five times in that period. More
In 2003 the Federal Office of the Gene Technology Regulator approvedGM canola for cultivation in Australia. It concluded that GM modified canola varieties produced by Bayer and by Monsanto, posed no greater risk to human health or the environment than conventionally bred strains. However, most State governments imposed a moratorium on GM crops pending further investigation. More
25-year-old Paul Bassett from Australia was officially named the world’s best barista. He won the World Barista Championship title in the third international competition held in Boston. The runners up were from Iceland and Norway. The competition was broadcast on national morning TV to over 20 million Americans.
Woolworths first became active in the petrol market in 1996, with a Woolworths Plus petrol station in Dubbo, New South Wales. However, supermarket involvement in petrol took a giant leap in 2003 with the introduction of fuel dockets. In this year, both Coles and Woolworths introduced the dockets for use at their tied fuel outlets. More
Based on the (false) premise that humans haven’t evolved fast enough to cope with foods introduced after the end of the Stone Age, the Paleo Diet is based on concepts first explored in 1975 by gastroenterologist Walter Voegtlin. The publication of a 2002 book The Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain popularised the idea of eating meat, fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds and excluding all grains, dairy, salt and added sugar.
Coles Bay has a permanent population of around 200, and is located on the edge of the Freycinet National Park and Wineglass Bay in Tasmania. To provide a safer environment for the area’s wildlife and marine life, the town became the first in Australia to ban non-biodegradable plastic shopping bags at checkouts.
Precious spelling (with a lower case d and a full stop) didn’t prevent this ABC-backed magazine from proving a success. Benefiting from promotion on the ABC television network and contributions from cooking show personalities, delicious. magazine challenged Donna Hay in the new magazine wars. More
The concept of the glycemic index was developed by Canadian Dr David Jenkins in 1980-81. His research showed that some starchy foods could have similar effects on blood sugar to simple sugars, depending how quickly they were absorbed. Although other books preceded his, Rick Gallop popularised the GI Diet as a means to weight loss with a series of books, the first being published in 2002. More
The Graduate degree program in Gastronomy (which lead to a Master of Arts in Gastronomy) was a collaboration between Le Cordon Bleu academy and The University of Adelaide. Headed by Barbara Santich, the gastronomy degree catered to people looking for a gastronomy-related career in hospitality, media or tourism. The course is no longer offered. More
The former food editor at Murdoch Magazine’s Marie Claire, Donna Hay had a trademark style of simple recipes and clean, minimalist photography. When Murdoch’s denied her the opportunity to open a magazine under her own name, she went to News Corp with a proposal and a mock up. They said yes. Donna Hay magazine was the first of a new wave of food magazines. The launch issue (at left) featured a simple cup of ice cream. More
Although coffee culture began seeping into Australian life in the mid-20th century with the introduction of the espresso machine, it took a sharp upward swerve in the 1990s. In the mid ’90s the term ‘barista’ began to be used for the person who made the coffee. The first annual Australian Barista Championship took place in 2001. It has since become the Australasian Barista Championship and has in various centres including, oddly enough, Thailand. More
The German chain Aldi opened its first Australian store in Sydney in 2001 and by 2004 had 54 stores across the eastern states. Aldi claimed that its proposition of ‘smarter shopping’ was supported by having no artificial colours in any produce, a high proportion of local produce and everyday low prices rather than fluctuating ‘specials’. More
Eric Schlosser’s book Fast Food Nation:The Dark Side of the All-American Meal explores the global influence of the American fast food industry. It first appeared in serialised form in Rolling Stone magazine and was later made into a film. In 2012 a new edition appeared with a ‘afterword’ commenting on other issues such as the increased interest in organic food and the exploitation of poor workers in the food industry. More
The worst drought in living memory hit Australia’s south east and south west, impoverishing farmers and increasing food prices. The drought increased the concern about climate change and water management, particularly in the Murray-Darling basin. Dubbed the Millennium Drought, it was only partly relieved by rains in 2008, while some regions remained dry until 2010. More
The Australian Federal Government passed the Gene Technology Act in December 2000 to regulate the research, use and release of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Australia. Its object was “to protect the health and safety of people, and the environment, by identifying risks posed by or as a result of gene technology, and by managing those risks through regulating certain dealings with genetically modified organisms (GMOs)”. More
The Goods and Services Tax (GST) was introduced, providing another incentive to eat at home. Food for human consumption was exempt, but take-away and restaurant food incurred the 10% GST. It was another blow to the restaurant industry where many were forced to absorb some of the price increases to maintain custom. More
The ABS Household Expenditure Survey (2000) found that the average household spent $127 a week on foods and non-alcoholic beverages, with meals eaten away from home occupying the largest percentage of this spending (26.77%). Spending on takeaway and fast foods accounted for 55.88% ($19 per week) of all meals when Australians ate out. More
Chains like Starbucks and Gloria Jeans were to coffee what the Eurovision song contest is to rock and roll. Their menus contained strange, sweet concoctions like GJ’s Arnott’s Tim Tam Chocolate Chiller or Starbuck’s White Chocolate Mocha Frappucino. When Starbucks launched in Australia the chain enjoyed a brief flurry of popularity, especially with the teen set who wanted a clubby atmosphere. More
As clocks prepared to tick over from 1999 to 2000, the so-called millennium bug became big news. In the fear that computer systems around the world would fail, some people began stockpiling food. In the event, aeroplanes did not fall out of the air, banks did not close down and, apart from a few minor glitches, life went on as usual. More