December 28 2016

65 and still rolling … the cheeky Chiko Roll

The Chiko Roll is an Australian icon, so much so that three country federal MPs this year had a stoush in Parliament over its origins, taking to Twitter to fight it out.

Since the 1950s generations of Australians have taken to its hot crunch and its sheer convenience—what’s not to love about a warm, tasty snack specifically invented to be eaten with one hand?

So where did the legend start? Frank McEncroe, originally a boiler maker, sold pies, pasties and hamburgers at country shows in the 1930s and 40s. A bit of an inventor, he’d always wanted to create a hot snack you could hold in one hand while having a drink. He came up with the idea of the Chiko Roll after spying a competitor’s Chinese chop-suey rolls selling well at a Richmond footy game. He loved the taste, and, tinkering around a bit, he made a number of improvements, including strengthening the outer shell to make it more suited for the Aussie market and to ‘up’ the crunch factor. Launched at the Wagga Wagga Agricultural Show in 1951, he knew he was on to a winner when it sold out by Day 2.

Simplot Australia now makes Chiko Rolls in Bathurst, NSW.

This year the Chiko handy holder—‘the one thing you already have that you didn’t know you were missing’—was launched. Designed to fit into a car’s cup holder, it allows a driver to eat a Chiko Roll ‘hands free’.

It’s hard to believe Chiko turns 65 this year but the youthful snack still has friends in high places. New Federal MP Andrew Gee noted in Parliament that he thought the Prime Minister would be a Chiko fan.

No wonder everyone wants to claim a piece of its history.

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