Top 10 Australian junk foods

The good ol' vanilla slice
The good ol' vanilla slice Photo: SUPPLIED

You'd be forgiven for thinking Australia has been taken over by a bunch of healthy eating food bloggers, with the amount of kale seen on cafe plates all over the country. Which is why we thought we'd balance the scales, and celebrate our best-ever junk foods. 

Vanilla slice

Don't be fooled, a mille-feuille this ain't. Proudly less refined than other incarnations, the Aussie version touts a characteristic slab of gelatine-set vanilla custard, sandwiched between two pieces of flaky pastry, and topped with icing that varies in flavour and consistency between states. The slightly tart NSW version, spiked with passionfruit, ticks all boxes. For those keen to take their enthusiasm for Vanilla slice to the next level, join thousands of pilgrims as they embark upon on Mildura this August for the annual Great Australian Vanilla Slice Triumph. 

Nothing beats a Gaytime in summer

Nothing beats a Gaytime in summer. Photo: Supplied

Golden Gaytime

Streets launched the first Gaytime in 1959 and it wasn't golden. In fact, Streets flirted with a variety of flavour incarnations including Strawberry Shortcake, Raspberry Rough, Cassata Roma and Turkish Delight, before the golden icon that we know and love today prevailed in 1970. A toffee-vanilla ice cream centre, dipped in chocolate and coated in the signature honeycomb biscuit crumb. Perfect for an Aussie summer's arvo at the beach or in the burbs. 

NCH NEWS, Herald big barbeque with the knights at Energy Australia stadium. Image shows sausage sizzle was the popolar choice . 17th July 2008 pic Darren Pateman SPECIAL 000

The ubiquitous sausage sizzle always delivers on the satisfying front. Photo: Darren Pateman

Sausage sizzle

Staple of the family barbecue, the voting booth, the local footy field and the Bunnings carpark, the humble snag sanga is undoubtedly Australia's most iconic lunchtime snack. Simplicity is the key here and fancy flourishes are unwelcome. The sausages should be cheap, plain and made from beef. They should be served on a single slice of highly processed white bread (no rolls allowed). Acceptable accompaniments include tomato sauce and onion at a pinch. The best part, they're designed to be consumed with one hand so you can bowl a couple of spinners between bites. 

Arnott's Barbecue Shapes Arnott's Barbecue Shapes <<4554.jpg>>

Arnott's Barbecue Shapes Photo:


First produced in Victoria in the 1950's, over 53 million packets of shapes are sold in Australia every year. Their popularity is justified. The ideal salty snack for social gatherings or lonely Netflix binge watching sessions. Also, a conveniently boxed, sub-$3 meal for teenagers and University students. Clearly, Arnott's are on to a good thing. If it isn't broken, why fix it, right? Alas, in 2016, to widespread public backlash, Arnott's decided to introduce "new and improved" flavours. Fortunately, this mistake was swiftly rectified.

Sunday Life products. Meat pie. Photo by Angela Brkic

The humble meat pie. Photo by Angela Brkic Photo: Angela Brkic


Meat Pie

Bizarrely referred to as a 'hand pie' in the US, what we Australians embrace as a logical attempt to unite one's meal with a pastry receptacle, still seems somewhat of a novelty in other parts of the world. The classic Aussie pie should be a simple affair with a rich, ground beef and gravy interior, encased in pastry and served with tomato sauce. Despite good intentions, the pastry shell rarely succeeds in living up to its structural duties, resulting in the ubiquitous hot pie juggle, followed by furious steam panting and third degree burns for both mouth and hands. Smarter folk penetrate its pastry lid to inject the tomato sauce - an ingenious way to cool a scalding interior.  

Neenish tart

Neenish tart


Neenish tart

The ludicrously sweet, two-toned bakery icon. Although colour combinations vary (always riffs on the classic brown, pink and white) and the inclusion of jam might ruffle the feathers of a few purists, a foundation of sweet pastry with a faux cream interior and hardened icing top make these little gems the favourite sweet treat of children and dentists across the country. The Neenish tart's origins are particularly elusive, enshrouded in the lies and scandal surrounding the fabled Ruby Neenish of Gong Gong, which turned out to be a prank staged by a disgruntled Gong Gong expat. The first known recipe was published in the Sydney Mail in 1901 and was simply credited to "the housewife".

Thankfully, the Australian recipe for Milo will remain unchanged.

Thankfully, the Australian recipe for Milo will remain unchanged.


Milo first launched at the Sydney Royal Easter Show in 1934 as a nutritional (seriously) beverage for children. Enjoyed hot or cold, and always with milk, this choc-malt powder is the teenage after-school snack of choice. The Australian recipe is charmingly flawed in its inability to dissolve adequately when mixed, resulting in a truly unique sludgy, crunchy, meal/beverage hybrid that necessitates the use of a spoon. The challenge is to push the Milo to milk ratio to its utmost limit of dryness, especially when mum isn't looking. 

The unforgettable Passiona

The unforgettable Passiona


The familiar favourite most Australians have been pronouncing incorrectly for the last 90 years. The recommended pronunciation, "Pash-ona", was published on a 1927 advertisement which also boasted a flattering testimonial from Lady de Chair, wife of the Governor of NSW. Originally developed by Spencer Cottee in the 1920s as a cordial designed to use up extra passionfruit on his Lismore farm, Passiona became the foundation of the Cottee's empire.

Aussie classic: a Chiko roll.

Aussie classic: a Chiko roll.

Chiko Roll

With a history as complex and mysterious as its filling, this distant ocker cousin of the spring roll was first sold at the Wagga Wagga Agricultural Show in 1951 and has been gracing the deep fryers of your local fish-n-chipper ever since.  It's innards of cabbage, barley, carrot, beef, fat and other goodies could be described as gluey and comforting – and a possible hard-sell for the uninitiated.  The Chiko's crowning glory is its tough outer crust, making it the kind of no-nonsense, one-handed meal deal Australians like best. 

Crispy, crunchy, salty...addctive.

Crispy, crunchy, salty...addctive. Photo: Jacky Ghossein


Twisties or Cheezels? The secret to claiming the title of 'King of the corn based cheese flavoured mystery crisps' lies in interactivity. Not only does the mighty Cheezels deliver on the flavour front but their round shape makes them a down-right novelty to consume. Line them up on each finger and don't forget to lick off all the orange cheesy powdered goodness. Or, bring a little bit of sophistication to your next social get-together by serving them on twiggy stick skewers. What's not to like?

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