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History of Australian Lollies

With so many of our favourite lollies now being made by overseas owned companies, I started to think about the history of lollies in Australia.

To my amazement, I discovered there was a paucity of information on this very subject, but fortunately however, I did come across a first of its kind research into the power of confectionery in the lives of Australian children, a thesis written by cultural historian, Dr Toni Risson from the University of Queensland in 2011.

Dr Risson not only investigated lollies as a significant cultural artefact in Australian society, but also delved into the manufacturing, distribution and consumption of these sweet morsels.

The thesis recounted the first-hand experiences and stories of nearly 300 people who had
expressed being enchanted by the opulence and colour of the lolly counter.

Sadly, much of the manufacturing history of lollies here at home has been lost, yet over the past 15 years, 20 books have been written in the United States and England on what they call, either candy or sweets.

For her research, Dr Risson was given access to the archives at the Confectionery Manufacturers’ Association and the multinational confectionery giant, Nestle, the company that now produces many of our favourite lollies like Fantales and Minties.


Did you know that MinTies were originally manufactured by Sydney company Sweetacres 

and launched in 1922. By 1926, this popular lolly wrapped in its iconic waxy paper twisted at both ends, was promoted using quirky cartoons and the tag line, “It’s moments like this you need MinTies.

In 2019, these little white squared lollies, now bearing the Allens moniker, are devoured to the tune of over 500 million each year.

In a dark quiet cinema the sound of Jaffas being rolled down the aisle was not uncommon and the rate of this ridiculously crazy idea only seemed to speed up when the movie was as dull as dish water.

Like all kids who chanced their hand at this pastime, no one gave a thought to what a waste of money it was or how dangerous it could have been because for goodness sakes, we were only children who knew no better, or so they said.

If this long held tradition, practised by any number of baby boomers, brings back happy memories, I do hope there will be more of those as you read on.

Whilst many of our perennial lollies such as MinTies and Fantales have stood the test of time, sadly, some have gone the way of the dinosaur. A roll call of those who have seen better days because of changing consumer tastes and cultural norms and the demise of the ubiquitous corner store include White Knights, Chocolate Cigarettes, Toscas, Polly  Waffles, Green Frogs, Spearmint Leaves and Bertie Beetles.

Of the raft stories to be told about the history of how some of our well known confectionery came to market, here’s but one of my favourites:

In 1880, the respected Australian entrepreneur and philanthropist Sir Macpherson Robertson founded MacRobertson’s Steam Confectionery Works, a company that produced over 700 chocolate and confectionery lines from their Fitzroy and later, Ringwood factories in Melbourne.

At its height, the business employed over 3,000 staff, exported to over 15 countries and established agency and distributorship agreements with many other companies including MacIntosh, Mars, Wrigleys (chewing gum) and the wholly owned subsidiaries, Life Savers and the Australian Liquorice Co.

MacRobertson’s was the largest confectionery manufacturer in the Southern hemisphere until the English company Cadbury

took over in 1967.

In 1969, Cadbury merged with Schweppes Australia to become Cadbury Schweppes before later separating and renaming the business Cadbury Australia.

Some of MacRobertson’s best known products that are sold in our shops today under the Cadbury label, include Cherry Ripes, Freddo Frogs, Columbines, Scorched Almonds and Old Gold Chocolate.

Happy Eating!


Did you know that Jaffas, with their chocolate core and orange flavoured shell, were originally made by James Stedman-Henderson’s Sweets Ltd of Sydney under the brand Sweetacres and were named after the Palestine town Jaffa, famous for its oranges.

In 2019, this all-time classic lolly is made under the Allens brand, a once famous Australian company now owned by Nestle.


Toni Risson (2011)

A Magic Bag: The Power of Confectionery in the Lives of Australian Children.
PhD Thesis
School of English, Media Studies and Art History
The University of Queensland


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