Lolly Gobble Bliss Bombs were launched in 1971. They were based on a similar American product called Cracker Jack, which was first released in the USA in 1896. Like their American predecessor, Bliss Bombs are ready-to-eat popcorn coated with toffee and rolled in crushed peanuts. Bliss Bombs are made by Green’s Foods, although their invention pre-dates the founding of Green’s.
Originally based in Victoria, Greens is now headquartered in Western Sydney. In addition to Lolly Gobble Bliss Bombs, they produce a range of cake and pancake mixes, Lowan brand cereals, and biscuits. According to Wikipedia, the idea for the product was touted by the head food technologist at Green’s, Sir Shaun MacMaster, in the late 1960s.
There’s a problem with this story, however. Bliss Bombs were certainly around in 1971, with a snippet in the Sydney Morning Herald’s column “Counter $py” reporting that:
Lolly Gobble Bliss Bombs are all the rage among children. They’re made from popcorn with toffee and nuts and are often in short supply. They cost 40 cents at milk bars and 29 cents at supermarkets for the same sized packet when you can get them.
Green’s own company history, though, states that the company was founded in 1978.
I have heard from Liz Crowley who has shed light on the true origin of Bliss Bombs. She wrote that they were invented by her father, Patrick John Crowley, who was the General Manager of ETA Crunchy Crisps. ETA Foods was perhaps best known in Australia for its peanut butter.
According to Liz, a significant marketing campaign saw giant packs of Lolly Gobble Bliss Bombs on the sides of Melbourne trams. A range of toys and stickers were also produced.
It seems the Crunchy Crisps division of ETA was sold to Smiths, and Greens later bought the product rights to Bliss Bombs. Mystery solved!
Much of the success of the Lolly Gobble Bliss Bombs must be attributed to its unforgettable name. The name and the initial marketing were developed by Frank Margan, creative director at the Melbourne advertising agency SPASM. They were deliberately positioned as a hippy-era snack – and the original pack reinforced this with psychedelic artwork. In the 1980s, as the hippies grew up and had children, the positioning of the product needed to change. It had always had kid appeal, so the graphics were changed to retain a sense of fun and craziness.