Lost in Translation: Eight Sweets that Bridge the British/Aussie Language Barrier
Ever had snack-talk with a friend from Down Under? If so, you’re probably still trapped in an unresolved debate about whether lamingtons are better than Tunnock’s teacakes (they’re not), or if fairy bread is just a cheap substitute for fairy cakes (it is).
I used to enjoy these sweet-bashing chats with a friend who hailed from Melbourne, until circumstances took her back to her home to Aus and our confectionary disputes were relegated in favour of catching up about important things like work and family. I was thinking of her recently though, and thought it might be a thoughtful gesture to send a care package of British treats that she must surely be missing in her world of TimTams and Cheezels.
When I skyped her for a shopping list, we made a surprising discovery. As much as we like to think our native confectionary is beautiful and unique (and everything from abroad is horrendous), it turns out that a lot of our most-treasured snacks are already hiding in the Outback, just disguised under a very different name. So, before you and your mate start a mud-slinging match in the sweet aisle, here are eight treats where you can find some common ground.
Crunchies vs. Violet Crumbles
A delicious honeycomb brick, encased in a thin layer of delicious chocolate… that’s a Cadbury’s classic Crunchie, right? Well, I’ve got some bad news. While that does accurately describe our treasured toffee treat, the Crunchie was actually created in 1929 to imitate the Violet Crumble, which has been popular in Australia since 1913. They, and their violet and yellow packaging (another thing we “borrowed”) is a staple of Australian popular culture.
Penguins vs. TimTams
Every British school child knows that they only need to ‘p… p… pick up a Penguin’ for a cheesy joke and a tasty snack, but any Aussie will argue that the TimTam is far superior. When it comes down to it, both bars comprise of two biscuits separated by a fluffy chocolate cream filling, so it shouldn’t really matter that the Penguin is, in fact, the original.
We will concede that the “TimTam Slam” (biting off opposite corners of the bikkie and using it as a straw for warm or milky drinks) is awesome and that we wished we had thought of it first. Too bad the “Penguin Slurp” doesn’t have such a good ring to it.
Cornetto vs. Drumstick
In the UK, you only need to begin thinking about a Cornetto before the catchy tune of O Sole Mio gets stuck in your head (the song they’ve used in their adverts since the 1980s). Available all over the world, these cones have a thin layer of chocolate separating the wafer and cream, making it possible to enjoy a traditional ice cream straight from the freezer. Frankly, this makes them a modern marvel.
Drumsticks? Any Brit will assume you’re referring to the milk and rhubarb flavoured chewy lolly from Swizzels Matlow. For any Aussies reading this, by “lolly” we actually mean a lollipop, not just a general term for all sweets. However, in Australia, the Drumstick is a Nestlé rival to the Cornetto (the Drumstick actually came first by over 30 years), although the top tends to be entirely encased in chocolate with a sprinkle of nuts on top.
Freddo vs. Caramello Koala
Freddos are a staple of the British sweetshop, with children across the nation using the delicious sliver of chocolate as a way of understanding inflation. When the Freddo bar was relaunched in the UK in the 1990s it was priced at just 10p. This was hiked up to 15p in 2005, 25p in 2016 and now retails at 30p, causing general outrage in young adults – possibly the only thing more infuriating than taking a bite and discovering you’ve accidentally bought a caramel Freddo instead of a plain one.
Freddos are available all over the world and are actually the most popular confectionary for ankle biters in Australia. However, hot on our beloved frog’s heels is the Caramello Koala, which is basically the same chocolately offering but modelled on a native creature. Before you get too cocky, it’s worth noting that Freddo was originally an Australian invention, but the manufacturer MacRobertson’s was sold to Cadbury in 1967.
It’s no secret that our relatives on the far side of the globe have some pretty strange names for everyday stuff, but it turns out that we do enjoy munching on the same things. Full disclosure; this does not cover Vegemite. If my ‘mate’ sends a jar of vegetable paste in my return care package, I think I’ll be telling her to rack off.