The Biscuiteer: Arnott’s Iced VoVo
Manufactured by: Arnott’s
Back when I was a cultural studies postgraduate student, there was some speculation about the decision to purchase Iced VoVos as catering for the postgrad seminar series. One student – let’s call him Alex, because that was his name – protested that they resembled vaginas, adding that the name “VoVo” sounded like a euphemism for female genitalia.
This story is what cultural studies academics would call “a contested site”, because Alex later denied ever having said such a thing. But despite its possibly apocryphal nature, since then I have never been able to think about Iced VoVos without thinking about vadges.
Arnott’s first produced the Iced VoVo in 1906 and describes it variously as “sweet and interesting” and “a symphony in pink”. It consists of two strips of pink fondant icing atop a plain sweet biscuit, a strip of strawberry jam running down the middle, and the entire thing dusted with desiccated coconut. The back of the biscuit has a fancy moulded design on it.
The Iced VoVo has an iconic place in Australian culture. Growing up, I always thought of it as an old ladies’ biscuit, the sort you might break out at a CWA meeting if all the sponge cake was gone. As a child, Crikey journalist Eleri Harris wanted to call her firstborn child Iced Vo-Vo. “I thought it was the most beautiful sounding name in the world… hmm. Good thing I grew up,” she says.
In a turn of events that doesn’t exactly counteract the biscuit’s prissy reputation, Kevin Rudd’s 2007 election victory speech famously enshrined it as the ultimate in bureaucratic party foods.
“Friends, tomorrow, the work begins,” Rudd said. “You can have a strong cup of tea if you want, even an Iced VoVo on the way through. But the celebration stops there.”
You might also remember a brouhaha earlier this year when doughnut chain Krispy Kreme created the “Iced Dough-Vo”, a jam-filled doughnut with pink coconut-sprinkled icing. At first the company was defiant in the face of legal action from Arnott’s.
“The word iced is pretty well used, and the word dough I don’t think has got anything to do with what Arnott’s do, and the word vo, I’m not sure what it means, but it goes well with dough,” Krispy Kreme CEO John McGuigan told The Australian.
However, eventually the company agreed to rename the doughnut – a move that had some grumbling the entire episode was a marketing stunt. Which is what people tend to grumble when fast-moving consumer goods make the news.
Perhaps it’s the coconut, but the Iced VoVo is actually much less soft and fluffy than it appears at first glance. The jam is of the hardened, almost toffee-like biscuit consistency, and the icing may look like marshmallows but it is also quite hard. Biting into the biscuit, it’s very slightly chewy to the teeth, but mostly crisp and crunchy.
Dipping it into a cup of tea leaves you at risk of having the coconut detach and float on the surface, but the rest of the ingredients stand up very well to dunking. It actually increases the softness of the biscuit and makes it more enjoyable to chew.
Because it’s also quite a small biscuit, it’s gone in several bites, leaving only the impression of something light, sweet and texturally pleasing. The description “sweet and interesting” is surprisingly apt! The VoVo is surprisingly moreish – while chatting over a cuppa, I managed to devour most of the packet without really realising it. Highly recommended for both ladies and postgraduate silly sausages.
- The Biscuiteer: Coles Creole Creams You'll love Coles – except for this racially awkward imitation...
- The Biscuiteer: Milk Chocolate Wheaten In the first of our occasional biscuit review columns, we...
- The Biscuiteer: Fine Fare Strawberry Creams These are the worst biscuits I can remember eating....
- The Biscuiteer: Unibic Anzac Biscuits Lest we forget to review Unibic's commercially produced version of...
- The Biscuiteer: Anna’s Ginger Thins These Swedish Christmas cookies are one of the most delicious...