Freddo Frog was introduced by MacRobertson’s in 1930. The original plan was to launch a mouse-shaped chocolate bar, but a young employee, Harry Melbourne, suggested that a frog may be more likeable. The shape of the frog and its packaging have changed over the years,with Freddo Frog assuming a more cartoon-like character. The foil packaging has been replaced with a plastic wrapper. Cadbury now owns the brand, selling more than 90 million in Australia each year.
The Freddo Frog was invented in 1930 at the MacRobertson’s chocolate factory in Fitzroy, Melbourne. Macpherson Robertson was already famous for his confectionery products, including Old Gold chocolates and the Cherry Ripe chocolate bar. History records that he intended to produce a chocolate mouse, perhaps to capitalise on the popularity of Disney’s new animated character Mickey Mouse, who made his debut in 1927.
However, so the story goes, an employee named Harry Melbourne pointed out that women and children were afraid of mice and suggested that a frog would have more appeal. Thus the Freddo was born. Initially, according to Wikipedia, there were four varieties: milk chocolate, white chocolate, half milk/half white, and milk chocolate with peanuts. That may be so, but by 1941 MacRobertson’s were advertising 12 varieties at a penny each.
The Freddo of those days was shaped like a frog. It continued to be so at least until 1967 when the company was acquired by Cadbury, and possibly for some time thereafter. At some point in the 1970s the MacRobertson’s name was dropped in favour of Cadbury.
Perhaps it was then that the shape of the chocolate frog was changed to resemble the advertising character that had represented the brand for many years. Or maybe the change was driven by the demands of an international market. Freddo was launched by Cadbury in the UK in 1973 but the Poms were less than impressed. The product was withdrawn in 1979, but re-launched, presumably in brand new livery, in 1994.
It was all downhill from there. Freddo now walks upright, wears human clothing and is a cartoon character rather than a frog. He’s been foil wrapped and plastic-wrapped and even underwent a glossy ‘facelift’ in the UK in 2009.