Recently I was searching for topics on which to write. I had thought of a few which I felt were quite topical and then, one day recently whilst having lunch with some friends one ordered a plate of spring rolls.
As my mind is often known to wander, off it went once again thinking of food. Rolls, I thought, and then I said to the group of friends “Remember the old Chiko rolls?” Then came the varied comments. Some liked and some did not like the rolls.
What you may, or may not know about Chicko rolls is that they are Australian. Until I arrived in Australia in 1958, I had never heard of them but I found that I liked them at that time. The Chiko Roll is an Australian savoury snack invented by Frank McEncroe, inspired by the Chinese spring roll and first sold in 1951 as the “Chicken Roll” despite not actually containing chicken. The snack was designed to be easily eaten on the move without a plate or cutlery.
Frank McEncroe was a boilermaker from Bendigo, Victoria, who turned to catering at football matches and other outdoor events. In 1950, McEncroe saw a competitor selling Chinese chop suey rolls outside the Richmond Cricket Ground and decided to add a similar product to his own line. McEncroe felt that the Chinese rolls were too flimsy to be easily handled in an informal outdoor setting and hit upon the idea of a much larger and more robust roll that would provide a quick meal that was both reasonably substantial and easily handled. The result was the Chiko Roll, which debuted at the Wagga Wagga Agriculture Show in 1951
In the 1960s, McEncroe moved to Melbourne with his family where he began to manufacture the rolls with the use of an adapted sausage machine. As the product became more popular, McEncroe moved his production to a larger factory in the suburb of Essendon. He later merged his business with a local company called Floyd’s Iceworks to form Frozen Food Industries Pty Ltd. The new company went public in 1963.
By 1965 most Australian takeaway restaurants, especially milk bars and fish and chip shops, carried Chiko Rolls, with the marketing slogan “Grab a Chiko” signifying the ease with which shop owners could take a Chiko Roll from the freezer and put it into a fryer, usually add a sauce and slide it into its own trademarked bag. At the height of their popularity in the 1970s, 40 million Chiko Rolls were being sold Australia-wide each year and more than one million were exported to Japan.
In October 2016 Karratha (WA) resident Mark Habermehl cooked a meat pie and a Chiko Roll on a barbeque in an attempt to avoid washing dishes. The event made the local newspaper and prompted a nomination for Australian of the Year, recognising the ‘Australian-ness’ of his choice of cuisine, selection of cooking device and ingenuity.
I would like to acknowledge Wikipedia as the source of most of the above information.