Two very South Australian sweet treats: FruChocs and Giant Twins
Meet two of South Australia's iconic treats that have been in production for the better part of 100 years
One thing I've always found myself amazed by is that even in this modern, globalised world there are still so many products we'll never know exist – purely because they're only sold in one country (or in this case, one state).
That's why I thought I ought to let you all in on two of the best-kept secrets that South Australia – the state I live in (which is, ironically, only the third-most southern state in Australia based on its southernmost point) – has to offer.
The first cab off the ranks is Menz FruChocs – one of the things South Aussie expats will no doubt talk about missing when living interstate, much to the confusion of everyone else around them.
Produced by Menz, which was founded all the way back in 1850 and later became Robern Menz in 1992, the company's best known national and, indeed, global product is Violet Crumble – a competitor to Cadbury's Crunchie, whose brand and intellectual property it purchased from Nestlé in 2018.
But the FruChoc, which first entered production in 1948, is what South Aussies will know Menz for best. A chewy dried apricot and peach paste centre coated in chocolate, the product was originally created to make use of excess fruit from the Riverland and Barossa Valley.
Since then, these sugary-sweet treats have been named an official 'Icon of South Australia' by the National Trust. Such is the magnitude of the FruChoc's popularity in South Australia, it has: its own dedicated day (FruChocs Appreciation Day on the last Friday of August); its own official masco (Mr FruChoc, who is seen at more events in the state than any other mascot); and three dedicated FruChocs Shops across the state.
The other uniquely South Australian sweet treat worth mentioning is Golden North's Giant Twins. Another company with a storied history, Golden North first began producing ice cream in Laura, a town in the Southern Flinders Ranges, back in 1923, with the founding Bowkers family selling fresh milk and cream from their dairy as early as 1880.
While back in the 1970s people would have to drive all the way up north from Adelaide, the state capital, just to buy Golden North, its products are now stocked all across the state, along with being stocked at smaller independent grocers interstate. The company has even had a crack at exporting to China – but it's South Australia where its brand cache remains the strongest.
The Giant Twins ice cream bar is the product the company is now most ubiquitous with, and it's easy to see why it's made a name for itself – Golden North is one of the few major ice cream companies still using real milk and cream to make its ice creams, which helps it deliver a traditional, rich-textured, smooth and creamy feel.
It should be noted that I would never normally take the bar out of its wrapper. Instead I would keep the wrapper on, to prevent getting melting chocolate all over my fingers.
Its products are all 100 percent free of palm oil as well. This became a focal point of some major controversy the Adelaide Zoo faced back in 2014 when it announced plans to dump Golden North ice creams in favour of selling ice creams from the Unilever-owned Streets – which do contain palm oil despite Zoos SA previously urging visitors not to buy products containing palm oil. Such was the controversy surrounding the situation, the zoo was forced to backflip and continue selling Golden North.
Now, I'm sure after looking at the delicious bar of honey ice cream (my personal favourite Giant Twins flavour) that's wrapped in just the right thin and crispy amount of chocolate, the second thought you'll have come to mind, after of course wishing you could eat one yourself, is why exactly they call them 'Giant Twins' when there's clearly only one of them.
Well, when the bars were first originally handmade, the ice cream itself was frozen in cake trays that left an indentation in the middle of the bar. As a clever marketing trick, it was presented as a way of snapping the bar in half to share it with someone else. With the process now automated, the indentation is gone – good, because I wasn't planning on sharing anyway – but the name remains.
It should be noted that the bar I had, pictured at the top, featured the long-standing old wrapper – however, a more modern new design, pictured above, is currently starting to be rolled out as I write this. And this is the sentence where I say something about how it's not the same any more, and then start to bang on about tradition and rubbish like that.
So, there are two uniquely South Australian sweet treats we've more or less been keeping to ourselves, but I'd love to know about some you can only get wherever you live – why don't you let me know in the comments below what I'm missing out on, and I'll fire up my detective skills to track some down to try!