Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Mystique of...The Chiko Roll

The Mystique of...The Chiko Roll

By Naoto Suzukawa
The Spirit News
January 25, 2075

The Chiko Roll is an Australian savoury appetiser snack, originally called the chicken roll and inspired by the Chinese egg roll and spring rolls. It was designed to be easily eaten on the move without a plate or cutlery. A Chiko roll is filled with cabbage and barley, as well as lesser amounts of carrot, beef tallow, cereal, celery and onion, along with smaller amounts of other additives and seasonings. The filling is partially pulped and enclosed in a cylinder pastry tube of egg and flour dough before being deep-fried in vegetable oil. The wrap was designed to be unusually thick so it would survive handling at football matches. Contrary to popular belief, the modern Chiko roll does not contain chicken as the name may imply. It was originally modelled on an Asian competitor's Chop Suey Roll. At the peak of its popularity in the 1960s and 1970s, forty million Chiko Rolls were sold annually in Australia and the product has been described as an Australian cultural icon.

The Chiko Roll was developed by Frank McEncroe, a boilermaker from Bendigo, Victoria who turned to catering at football matches and other outdoor events. In 1950, McEncroe saw a competitor selling Chinese chop suey rolls outside Richmond Cricket Ground and decided to add a similar product to his own line. McEncroe felt that the Chinese rolls were too flimsy to be easily handled in an informal outdoor setting, and hit upon the idea of a much larger and more robust roll that would provide a quick meal that was both reasonably substantial and easily handled. The result was the Chiko Roll, which debuted at the Wagga Wagga Agriculture Show in 1951.

In the 1960s, McEncroe moved to Melbourne with his family where he began to manufacture the rolls with the use of an adapted sausage machine. As the product became more popular, McEncroe moved his production to a larger factory in the suburb of Essendon. He later merged his business with a local company called Floyd's Iceworks to form Frozen Food Industries Pty Ltd. The new company went public in 1963.

By 1965, most Australian takeaway restaurants, especially Milk Bars and fish and chip shops carried Chiko Rolls with the marketing slogan "Grab a Chiko" signifying the ease with which shop owners could take a Chiko Roll from the freezer and put it into a fryer, usually add a sauce and slide it into its own trademarked bag. At the height of their popularity in the 1970s, 40 million Chiko Rolls were being sold Australia-wide each year and more than one million were exported to Japan.

Increasing competition in the Australian takeaway food market in recent decades has seen a decline in the profile of the Chiko Roll, but they are still widely available at fish and chip shops and supermarkets across Australia. It is also a popular snack at sporting events around Australia. As it is a hot snack this is especially true for winter sports such as Australian rules football and rugby league where they are often sold alongside other hot snacks such as the meat pie, pasty and sausage roll.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Chiko Roll the current manufacture presented gold plated replicas to Bendigo and Wagga cities.

Since 1995, the Chiko brand has been owned by Simplot Australia and today has expanded its products to include: MexCHIKO Rolls, Corn Fritters, Corn Jacks, fish cakes, Spring Rolls, Veggie Nuggets, Beef Croquettes and dim sims. All Chiko Rolls are now manufactured in Bathurst, New South Wales, Australia, on a specifically designed machine that produces the pastry and filling at the same time in long rolls. They are then automatically sliced and then the distinctive ends are folded.