Tags: Arnott's, biscuit, south australia, yo yo, yoyo
It was a very exciting day the other day, as a friend gave me a present. A packet of biscuits. He had been visiting family in Adelaide, and, knowing my predilection for biscuits, brought back a pack of YoYos.
The reason this was so exciting (other than the prospect of some biscuity goodness) is that YoYos are only available for sale in South Australia. They are a ‘regional line’, and baked especially for that local market. As such, it’s impossible to get these biscuits here in Sydney through the normal channels; indeed a special permit is required to carry them across state lines. Luckily my friend had filled out all the requisite paperwork and was allowed to bring these specimens back with him.
The YoYo traces its roots back to the ‘Menz’ bakery, an iconic local producer of sweetmeats that was established by the Menz family in Adelaide in 1850. It’s not clear when the YoYo was first produced, but it was definitely in production by 1943, as this advert shows. (There is also a charming film of the Menz factory here; sadly the biscuit featured in the film is a morning coffee type, not a YoYo.) The Menz business became part of the Arnott’s group in 1964, amidst a wave of bakery mergers, and the Yo Yo survived the merger and is still in production today.
There are lots of intriguing things about this biscuit. Firstly, it is the only Arnott’s line that does not feature the standard typography; the name ‘YoYo’ is shown in a block blue font outlined in red. To my eyes this looks a bit odd; however it is explained by the heritage aspect of this biscuit. This is the original YoYo logo, and as a ‘listed heritage design’ under South Australian laws Arnott’s are not allowed to change it.
Secondly, each pack contains three different designs of biscuit. They are all the same shape, but are embossed with different patterns. The original design, I have discovered, had the word ‘Menz’ in the centre. This was changed to ‘YoYo’ when Arnott’s took over; presumably they changed it to ‘YoYo’ rather than ‘ARNOTT’ (as features on many other Arnott’s lines) both from space considerations, and also in order to not upset South Australian sensitivities that an iconic SA brand had been bought out by a NSW company.
Thirdly, they are wildly popular in South Australia. According to Arnotts, South Australians consume over twenty million of these biscuits a year; and when I took them over to the desk of a colleague who hails from Adelaide his eyes went briefly misty with the memories of a YoYo childhood, before he reached forward and snatched four or five of the biscuits from the proffered pack like a man possessed. (Today’s question, for a biscuity prize; on average, how many YoYos are consumed each year per person in SA?)
So what do they taste like? Well, they are actually rather good. They are made with a good proportion of butter (as well as vegetable oil), and are flavoured with honey. This makes them quite rich and sweet, although they are quite a light biscuit that is nice and airy. They dunk into tea extremely well (we used a robust Ceylon for this), and are very moreish. I’d give these a seven or maybe even an eight out of ten.
So why does Arnott’s hide these gems down in South Australia, rather than giving them the wider distribution they deserve? Who knows; perhaps it’s all part of keeping South Australia special.