December 9, 2012 at 11:09 | Posted in biscuits | 1 Comment
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sao biscuit packetWhy is a Sao (or ‘SAO’, as it is written on the packet) called Sao? Does it have anything to do with the mysterious Catherine Sao? Is it a reference to the Salvation Army? Myths and legends abound, but the real history is shrouded in the depths of the disappearing ‘SAO’ page from Arnott’s website.

sao biscuitSo what is a SAO? Well, it’s a cream cracker, plain and simple. Cream Crackers were invented by Mr Jacob in 1885, so it’s a bit of a stretch to call the SAO ‘the original’, even if it does hark back to 1906. Cream crackers, of course, have no cream in them – but apparently trading standards were more lax in 1885 and you could get away with that kind of thing. They are quite airy, dry biscuits that really do need a topping on them – ideally something with some moisture. A plain SAO is a dry affair, indeed I have vague recollections of competitions to eat such a biscuit, plain, with no water, as fast as possible. It’s not as easy as it sounds, let me tell you, even for an accomplished biscuit eater such as myself.

I have now put such juvenile pursuits behind me, and enjoy my SAOs topped with cream cheese, avocado, tomato slices and the like. When partnered with such luscious ingredients, the SAO is very agreeable, although the preparation time does really move it away from the ‘snack’ genre and closer to ‘meal’.

I’m going to give the SAO five out of ten.

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  1. Back in the 1980s a friend of mine used to live next door to a man who was apparently the son of the boss of Arnotts. He had a car with a personalised number plate. The number plate wasn’t TIM-TAM or JATZ – it was SAO-###. Apparently SAO stands for Salvation Army Officer as the son of the founder of Arnotts was himself a “S.A.O.”. Note how the packaging alway has SAO in capital letters. Of course the classic Australian topping on a SAO is vegemite and butter. You can make a vegemite and butter SAO sandwich snack in about 15 seconds and when the 2 biscuits get squeezed together the vegemite squeezes out of the holes like little black worms! Kids love it.

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