The Chiko Roll – an Australian food icon.

America has the hotdog, France has the baguette, India has the dosa, and Australia has the Chiko Roll.

Chiko roll ad

The Chiko Roll was invented by a boilermaker, and that makes a whole lot of sense.

Frank McEnroe believed that Aussie Rules footy patrons required a hardy warming food that was robust enough to hold in one hand, with a beer in the other. The Chiko Roll was thus invented, and premiered at the Wagga Wagga Agricultural Show in 1951.

Roll on plate.2

The concept of the Chiko Roll was simple – Mr. McEnroe took the Chinese Chop Suey roll, which was popular in Australia at the time, and put his boilermaker skills into adapting it to Aussie football ground conditions.

He used egg and flour dough to make a thick outside tube,  which was then deep fried. Inside was a combination of meat, cabbage, celery, barley, rice, carrot, onion, green beans and spices. It gave the semblance of being nutritious.

More importantly, it was delicious. Especially at the footy on a cold winter’s afternoon.

bite taken.2

The Chiko Roll took off immediately.

By the end of the 1950s Chiko Rolls were sold in most fish-and-chip shops, takeaway joints, milk bars, and at sporting events all around the country. In 1963 the Frank McEnroe’s company went public, and in the 70s at their height of their popularity, there were 40 million Chiko Rolls sold each year in Australia.

Strangely, there was an export market to Japan. They probably used them for karate practice – instead of breaking bricks in half, they broke Chiko Rolls.

Part of the Chiko Roll phenomenon came down to marketing – and the sexy Chiko Chick.

The Chiko Chicks were flagrantly displayed on billboards and in magazines, wearing scanty bikinis and low cut tops – at the time very racy and salacious.

Chicks in surf   Chicko chick on bike

can't knock the roll chiko chick on car

Suggestive and double entrendre catchlines were also used, such as: Couldn’t you go a Chiko Roll? and HIt the Hot Spot and Grab a Chiko.

images  chiko-chicks copy

You didn’t need an overly active imagination to realize that the iconic Chiko Roll looked like a deep fried phallus.

roll as phallus

And when it was sold in its own bag it looked like it was wearing a loose and fallible condom –

roll in condom

Why is the Chiko Roll making a featured appearance in this celebrated Road Food blog? Not because it gives me the opportunity to make cheap and grubby jokes – although that certainly  does appeal.

No, there’s a deeper cultural reason.

In the new millennium, other fast foods have penetrated the market deeper, and the Chiko Roll sales numbers have become somewhat flaccid. However, it’s still very popular with truckers and traveling reps and anyone wanting to have a quick meal on the road.

The boilerplate nature of the Chiko Roll makes it easy to hold while you’re driving – plus in between bites you can put it in various places around your vehicle.

You can put it in your beverage holder –

In drinks holder

You can rest it on the steering wheel –

Driving with roll

You can put it under your sunvisor –

Under visor

You can nestle it in beside the rearview mirror –

Rearview mirror

And you can put it into other places too –

Chicko roll in car.1

All you need is a bit of sauce and you’ve got the complete driving experience…

10 thoughts on “The Chiko Roll – an Australian food icon.

  1. Totally, TOTALLY hilarious Bill! Best laugh I’ve had for weeks!
    Cheers to you, Jen, Lynda, Arlene and Steve – ‘hope all’s well with you all –
    Jenny xxxxx

      1. Here we are Bill – HOOLY DOOLY!
        Your Chiko Roll tale has me thinking about tons of other Aussie retro treats … remember the Golden Rough and its evil twin, the Peppermint Pattie? … always together on the lolly counter, and who can forget about the (now non-pc-named) icecream, the Gaytime – all delicious!
        All’s good here! ‘sent a quick email to you just now.


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