The Chiko Roll was developed by Frank McEncroe, a boilermaker from Bendigo, Victoria, who turned his clever hands to catering at football matches and other outdoor events. In 1950, McEncroe saw a competitor selling Chinese-style chop suey rolls outside the Richmond Cricket Ground. It was here that his craftsman's mind saw an opportunity...
McEncroe felt that the competitor rolls were too flimsy to be handled in an informal outdoor setting, so brought to life the idea of a much larger and more robust roll that would provide a quick meal fix, easily held in one hand, with a cool beer in the other. The roll's robust crispy outer layer would double as its own holder... And the legend of the great Chiko Roll began, making its first appearance 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, milk bars and fish and chip shops stocked beloved 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 place it into a fryer. Sometimes sauce was added before it slid it into its own trademarked Chiko Roll 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. In1995 the Chiko brand was proudly acquired by Simplot Australia.
Bathurst, New South Wales is the Chiko Roll's home of manufacturing, where the rolls are produced on a specially designed machine that makes the pastry and filling at the same time, in one giant long roll. They are then automatically sliced, with the distinctive ends folded to what many say is perfect imperfection.
The controversy of the Chiko Roll's true home remains alive today... even Parliament is divided. Three MPs claim their town is the true home of the Legendary Chiko Rolls. Is it Wagga Wagga, Bathurst or Bendigo? We'll let you decide...
What we do know is that Chiko Rolls remain a pop culture icon. They're a popular snack at sporting events, and are still widely available at fish and chip shops and supermarkets across Australia. They're a part of Australia's history that everyone fondly remembers, everyone wants to claim, and everyone wants to be a part of. Chiko; a true legendary icon.