Confectionery: Past and Present
MacRobertson first entered the confectionery market with products he named ‘sugar novelties’ or ‘sugar toys’.
These sweets were created in the shape of animals and were a hit with children. He may have recalled this early success when he later developed the idea for a simple, cheap chocolate animal, later to become Freddo Frog. As the factory grew, so did the repertoire of sweets and chocolates. These included Columbines, Snack, Max-mints, Milk Kisses, Sherbet Fizzers, Tip-Top Toffee and Kiltie Butter-Scotch.
Some of the most successful chocolates produced by MacRobertson’s were Cherry Ripe, Freddo Frog and Old Gold chocolate. Originally, Freddo Frog was supposed to be a chocolate mouse, but an employee called Harry Melbourne convinced Mac that women and children were afraid of mice, and that the public would be more receptive to a frog. The character of Freddo was used to decorate many of the MacRobertson delivery vans so that when the doors where open during deliveries, Freddo appeared to be waving. In 1924 MacRobertsons launched Cherry Ripe, a chocolate bar consisting of a mixture of coconut and cherries coated in Old Gold chocolate. In the grounds of the original MacRobertson factory buildings, now converted into apartments, a cherry tree and palm tree still grow in commemoration of this popular product. Today Freddo Frog, Cherry Ripe and Old Gold Chocolate blocks are manufactured and distributed by Cadbury.
During his American tour, Mac was the guest of Wrigley’s Chewing Gum, giving him the idea to begin producing gum in Australia. Prior to the product developed by MacRobertson, chewing gum available in Australia was made from ingredients such as paraffin wax. It left a horrible aftertaste and was also highly flammable. The new Pepsin variety produced by MacRobertson came in a range of flavours including Celery, Cafe Clove, Kola, Tutte Frutte, Trilby and Koj Kure. Early advertising of the chewing gum was similar to other products of the time in that the product was supposed to have various health benefits, including claims that it ‘relieves, often cures, indigestion’, ‘tones up the system’, ‘checks the habit of smoking’ and ‘corrects odours of the breath.’ An early advertisement shows a school student doing a class presentation on ‘the best chewing gum made on earth’ with a picture of the MacRobertson Steamworks Factory on the blackboard.
Confectionery: Past and Present
The White City
Walking the White City video
The Marketing Man
The Marketing Man Video
MacRobertson's Horses Video
The Cycling Craze
The Cycling Craze Video
MacRobertson and the Motor Car
The MacRobertson Legacy
Mac.Robertson Girls' High School video
MacRobertson Land, Antarctica
Old Gold Airplane
Story education resources
Education MacRobertson's Confectionery Factory - Education Kit
The MacRobertson's Confectionery Factory education kit has been designed for grades 2 and 3 and looks at themes such as 'the past in the present' and 'community history'.
Key themes include:
1. Historical buildings and monuments
2. Victorian industry and the workforce
3. Technology and transport
4. Advertising and design
5. Local history
Teachers and students use the kit in conjunction with the MacRobertson videos, images and stories available on Culture Victoria to complete a range of activities aligning with key historical skills such as:
1. Distinguishing between the past, present and future
2. Posing questions about the past using sources provided
3. Exploring a range of sources about the past
4. Identifying and comparing features of objects from the past and present
5. Exploring a point of view
6. Developing a narrative about the past
7. Using a range of communication forms (oral, graphic, written, role play) and digital technologies