Tuesday 12 March 2002

Tim Tams just another second-rate Aussie ripoff!

Tim Tam biscuits Australians hate to admit that their iconic foodstuff Vegemite, first introduced in 1926, was a local imitation of Marmite, which had been on sale in Britain since 1902. Now irrefutable evidence has emerged that the national biscuit, the Arnott’s Tim Tam, is nothing but a cheap knockoff of another British original, the Penguin. The Sydney Morning Herald’s Paul Sheehan investigated:

This was not some mere biscuit story. It required research. An agent was commissioned to buy several packets of Penguins (original, mint and orange). A second agent was deployed to bring them back to Australia and secrete them through Customs. The Penguins were then taste-tested against the Tim Tam classic by a three-person group.

The result? While the texture of the two products was different - the springy bite of the Tim Tam is its magic weapon - there could be no doubt the two were closely related. Very closely. The dimensions and taste of the Tim Tam and the Penguin differed only by degrees.

The Tim Tam was named after a horse that Ross Arnott saw win the 1958 Kentucky Derby (in 2:05, ridden by Ismael Valenzuela, trained by Jimmy Jones). Sheehan discovered that “Penguin biscuits were first made in Glasgow in 1932,” whereas Tim Tams were launched in 1963. His verdict? “The Tim Tam is a Penguin, modified and improved, yes, but not modified and improved enough to be an original.”

According to Arnott’s: “There are seven delicious varieties of Tim Tams: Original, Chewy Caramel, Mocha, Double Coat and Classic Dark Chocolate, Special Edition Tim Tam Hazelnut and new limited edition White Chocolate, available for six months only.” They might have to find a new name for the first variety. There’s nothing original about the Tim Tam.



Is this a rant?

Posted by: victor echo zulu on 11 March 2002 at 03:45 PM

And I was so looking forward to trying these some day. And now I find that it's a ripoff, a copy, a pale shadow of a cookie called a Penguin.

Posted by: Burningbird on 11 March 2002 at 03:50 PM

Yes, but while the Brits won't shut up about Marmite, I've never heard them mention Penguins. Tim Tams are chocolate gold when trading videos and other fan stuffs with countries that might otherwise have Australians at an economic disadvantage.

Posted by: David Golding on 11 March 2002 at 11:50 PM

Two months my single, terminal, expatriated package of TimTams lasted, here in Korea. I left Sydney 8 months ago.

Posted by: stavrosthewonderchicken on 12 March 2002 at 05:17 AM

Dreams can come true, Stavros. Tell me which Tim Tams you prefer...

Posted by: Jonathon Delacour on 12 March 2002 at 02:05 PM

I just have to say that having tasted both Penguins and Tim Tams, what you're calling the original is a pale imitation (even if it came first) of the joys of the Tim Tam. The Tim Tam is most definitely modified and improved enough to be regarded as an original. Just because an artist chooses to use the same techniques - perhaps even the same tools - as one of the old masters doesn't mean that the new work won't be original. The Tim Tam may have taken the concept, the technique and the ingredients from the Penguin but it is a work of art in its own right.
In fact, I'd say Arnott's must have spent the entire 31 years between 1932 and 1963 completely focused on improving the Penguin because believe me, there's a big gap between the two.

Posted by: Matt Liddy on 12 March 2002 at 03:01 PM

If you call a biscuit a "penguin" it deserves to be ripped off... what a crappy name!

Posted by: angel on 23 July 2002 at 08:17 AM

Excuse me??
Tim tams are so much more original than penguin. I mean, who would call a buiscuit a penguin anyway. I have tasted both and the Tim tam tastes so much better! Anyways, I've tried marmite and vegemite and I like marmite better, but vegemite is just a original, It's different isn't it?? (yes)
You don't have to be ticked off just because Tim tams sell better than penguins

Posted by: taekchick on 27 July 2002 at 01:53 PM

Well, this is the first I've ever heard of some kind of cookie called the penguin. I was in New Zealand for 2 months on a Mission trip with Teen Mania Ministys (www.teenmania.com) and the people over there have never even heard of the penguin! And either way, did the Penguin have a cool way of eating it? As the TimTam does? :p

Oh well, who really cares? Next thing you know, Mexico will be sueing Taco Bell, for ripping off 'their' taco design! Gimme a friggin' break...

Posted by: 0mega on 7 November 2002 at 03:09 PM

You don't see the Japanese going home with suitcases full of penguin's do you?

Posted by: Hannah on 13 January 2003 at 09:22 AM

please tell me whereu can buy them i live in uk is there any way u can get them over here thanks

Posted by: lynn on 14 January 2003 at 12:08 AM

australiashop.co.uk It's a shop in Covent Garden London and stocks Tim Tams and will mail to any part of the U.K... However the URL is not at present working so I don't know if it is still in existence or not. All my Tim Tams are imported from NZ in bulk... I go for the double coated and the original, I am not too keen on the rest. As for comparing them with a Penguin.... get real!!!!

Posted by: horsehater on 13 February 2003 at 12:00 AM

Having had both Penguins and TimTams, I have to say that Penguins are hella tastier!! At prep school, we'd get packed lunches with a Penguin each. They were the only tasty thing in that lunch. TimTams are.. too creamy. Penguins were crunchier. But hey, if it has chocolate - don't knock it!

Posted by: prema on 27 February 2003 at 06:38 PM

Im living in the UK... but im an Aussie! and let me tell you that the penguin is no where near as nice or delightful. I couldnt give a rip if they look the same .etc the fact is that penguins are crap and tim tams are awesome.

Posted by: Skippy on 8 March 2003 at 02:26 AM

the two are TOTALLY different in taste, so they look the same, SO WHAT! they are both yummy. By the way whoever said that penguin is a dumb name, you are wrong, they have a sense of humour, there are all these different packets with penguins doin funny stuff!

Posted by: Maz on 12 March 2003 at 05:51 AM

Tim Tams really are the real deal and beat penguins all day long.
Tesco's supermarkets have started stocking them here in the uk... go Tesco you little beauty!!!!

Posted by: Daz on 8 July 2003 at 10:22 AM

This discussion is now closed. My thanks to everyone who contributed.

© Copyright 2002-2003 Jonathon Delacour