Iced VoVo

March 24, 2010 at 21:10 | Posted in biscuits | 8 Comments
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A little while ago, I looked at the Scotch Finger, an Aussie classic. The Iced VoVo is perhaps even more of a classic than that, and I was prompted to take a look at it by @gascrank.

It was introduced in 1906; whether there ever was a non-iced version (called, one would imagine, the  ‘VoVo’, is unclear. It still crops up in unexpected places; for example Australian Prime  Minister Kevin Rudd mentioned them in his 2007 election victory speech. There is also a large pointillist picture of an Iced VoVo on the wall of Mrs Chillikebab’s gynaecologist; this took on an even more peculiar aspect when I read a story of someone who refused to eat them as ‘they look like female genitalia’.

So what is this at once most staid yet racy biscuit? It consists of a relatively soft biscuit base that is topped with fairly thick fondant icing, with a strip of raspberry jam down the middle. It is then liberally dusted with dessicated coconut. The raspberry jam does actually contain raspberries, too. The back of the biscuit is decorated with a swirly design with ‘ARNOTT-‘ in the middle written in a circle; the position of the hyphen makes it look (to me at least) like ‘ARNOTTI’, which confused me for a while.

There are 12 of them in a packet, arranged in a tray with four little stacks of three biscuits each. This means there are actually not many in a pack; indeed the whole pack only weighs 210g. Also, unlike most other Arnott’s varieties, the pack contains no strapline. No pithy description of the biscuit is offered; presumably because everyone knows what an Iced VoVo is.

However, it seems that actually very few people know what an iced VoVo is, because Iced VoVos seem to induce amnesia. For some reason, no-one can remember what they are like, and every time they have one they are surprised anew that they do not have a marshmallow topping. I must say, I don’t quite know why this is; they are after all called ‘Iced VoVos’, not ‘Mallow VoVos’, so the clue is there in the name – it’s icing, folks. Yet when you offer one to people, you usually get this reaction:

‘Oooh! An Iced VoVo! I haven’t had one of these for ages!’. [bites into it] ‘Oh no! That’s not right. They’ve changed it; the topping is all hard – it should be soft’.

I even got that reaction from an ex-Arnott’s employee, so it’s very prevalent. Perhaps this is why Arnott’s don’t put a strapline on the pack; the line ‘not a marshmallow biscuit’, whilst helpful information for most people (it would seem), would perhaps be a bit strange, and might even cost then sales.

To me, they are a rather fussy biscuit. There’s just too much going on there; the coconut,  jam and icing all fight for supremacy on the palate, whilst the rather soft base lacks any backbone to give texture. Still, they are an Australian classic, so I should be careful about criticising them whilst my application for Australian citizenship is still pending. I believe people have been deported for less.

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8 Comments »

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  1. This biscuit, to me, invokes the uniquely Australian aspiration towards English aristocracy. It’s all lace and doilies, and the best china from your grandmothers display case. Sunday afternoon poshness, in stiff leather shoes.
    I too recall it having a pillowy marshmallowness, so evidence exists for Arnotts reworking a classic. Equally though, the vo-vo being a relic from a half-imagined childhood where icy-poles were the size of cricket bats, we could all be simply delusional.

    • Yes, these biscuits really need to be served on a doily-covered plate. I was hoping to do that for the photography, but couldn’t find the appropriate props.

      Trust me, they haven’t changed the recipe. You’re just a victim of the VoVo’s strange mind-bending effects.

      • sorry, but i must VIGOROUSLY disagree with you chillikebab!!!
        I grew up in australia, there were iced vovo’s which i never recall eating, and ones with marshmallow puffs!
        When i was in my 20’s i bought a packet and was SO ANNOYED by the biscuit inside,with its mozzie bite titties, instead of its huge volumonous billowy puffs of marshmallow as i remembered (AND was pictured on the pack, but not represented by the product inside ) that i actually took the time to write to Arnotts and complain about their misleading advertising!

        Aliens have abducted the mallow ones and wiped some peoples memories!

        That is the only explanation for why some of remember them and some don’t!

  2. I love them, there is in fact a version with Marshmallow, and has been for a number of years, which is probably why people think the original had marshmallow. It looks exactly like the Iced Vo Vo except the pink bit is marshmallow.

  3. […] to the thing which is somewhat unexpected. I actually think this is a companion biscuit to the Iced Vovo. The Iced Vovo is a kind of throwback to British high tea, and this is the same. It’s an […]

  4. There is in fact a biscuit with marshmallow, and due to the fact that everyone remembers them more than Iced VoVos I believe they obviously were much more popular. They are Strawberry Mallows, made by Paradise – a cheaper, nastier version, but obviously more memorable than vovos.

  5. They used to have a line of pink marshmallow balls on both sides today’s ones are crap

    • Thanks for your comment, candis, but respectfully I have to say you are mistaken! The biscuits you are referring to are Strawberry Mallows, as Sarah notes above. The Arnott’s variety have never had marshmallow on them. I’ve never tried a Strawberry Mallow, but certainly from the feedback I receive it seems like most people liked them better!


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