A Food & Travel Blog

Robern Menz & Fruchocs -proudly Adelaide born and bred

Food, Producers | 20/09/2011 | By

In general, the lot of a food blogger is a pretty happy one and this was a fact not lost on me the other day as I quite cheerily ticked another item off my bucket list – a guided tour through a chocolate factory.  The chocolate factory in question is a pretty special one here in Adelaide, as it produces an item that is quite peculiar to South Australia and very dear to most crow-eaters hearts – that chocolate-coated blend of peaches and apricots, the Fruchoc (that’s pronounced “froo-choc”, folks).

Way back in the last century, in what my kids like to call”the olden days” and when I was a lot closer to the ground, one of the thrills of our infrequent interstate travel was the opportunity to sample the exotic flavours of other places. Things like bread, milk, snack foods, ice creams and confectionery were all made locally back in the dim mists of time, so a trip across the border opened up a whole new world of pocket-money possibilities to the young, wide-eyed traveller.  Not so now, as most of the small, family owned businesses have been devoured by large national and multinational concerns, leaving us in a country where the state boundaries – at least in terms of retail therapy – are little more than a concept.  However, here in South Australia we have managed to hold on to just a few of our old favourites and, as is the case of Menz Fruchocs (that’s “froo-chocs”, remember), some have been returned to our fold.

The mint line - this room smelled amazing

 

Menz was one of South Australia’s oldest brands and grew from a family owned and run grocery and bakery business in Adelaide in 1850 to become manufacturers of the much-loved Yo Yo biscuits and Crown Mints.  In 1948, in an effort to find a way of dealing with dried fruit off-cuts, Fruchocs were created, quickly becoming enormously popular in their home state.  In the 1960’s Menz merged and became part of Sydney company, Arnotts, which was subsequently bought out in 1992 by the US giant, Campbells.  Campbells could see little value in maintaining the smaller confectionery lines, which were then bought by another respected Adelaide firm, Robern.

 

Naked Fruchocs!

Established in 1908, Robern had grown from the Sims family run Serv-Wel grocery stores to major producers of dried, canned, frozen and dehydrated fruit and vegetables.  They were an important supplier of dehydrated food to the Allied Forces during the second World War and, after the war, Edgar Sims refined the hitherto somewhat imperfect process of glaced fruit.  In the 1970’s Robern had branched out into confectionery items, making their own dried fruit confectionery lines and honeycomb, so the acquisition of Menz Fruchocs was a pretty obvious fit and a happy return to South Australian ownership for the Menz brand.

 

Almost the Fruchocs we know and love

 

 

Done!

Still family owned by the Sims and completely South Australian based, Robern Menz now produces Fruchocs, Crown Mints, honeycomb, Choccy Snakes, fruit snacks and the premium range of natural Medlow Fruit Gels, among others.   The place of Fruchocs in South Australian history was cemented in 2005 when they were inducted to the Bank SA Heritage Icons list, becoming part of an elite group of only 35 who were listed by the National Trust as having significant cultural importance.

Honeycomb on its way to the enrobing machine for a second coating of chocolate

Having donned the mandatory white coat and tucked every single strand of my (fairly wild) hair up in a stylish cap, I followed Robern Menz CEO Phil Sims as he led me on my own personal tour of what is a noisy, but aromatic little piece of heaven.  Different products are made on different days of the week and there were no jelly products (Choccy Snakes, Medlow Gels) being made on the day of my visit, but there was plenty of other action to watch – the mints coming out of the press, the delicious little cubes of combined peach and apricot that are the inside of Fruchocs, and the searing hot, continuous stream of honeycomb being poured out of a machine.  Oh, and chocolate – there was plenty of chocolate – being ground up in the conchers, coated on the the Fruchocs and gently pouring over the honeycomb in the enrobing machines.  In, fact Robern Menz produce a whacking 9 tonne of chocolate a day!

Unfortunately for the rest of the country, Fruchocs are not marketed outside of South Australia so you interstaters will have to put them on your list of reasons to visit Adelaide.  And Adelaideans, next time you open up a bag of Fruchocs at the movies or grab a bag of the new Giant Fruchocs (what an inspired idea that was!) at the supermarket, remember that you are eating a home made product and an official South Australian treasure!

 

Honeycomb ready for packaging


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  1. InTolerantChef
    20/09/2011

    Noooo! How can you tempt us with Fruchocaliciousness only to tear it away? When I come to Adelaide for my promised visit-the-pandas trip I will have to stock up.

  2. Benno
    20/09/2011

    Send some over Mandy, please…..”.

  3. Judy
    21/09/2011

    Oh yes, I have to make sure the family in Melbourne get their supplies of Fruchocs. Non-availability seems to make you want something even more. Thanks for the story Amanda.

  4. Moira McInerney
    21/09/2011

    Unbelievable that I have to sit in New Zealand and be tortured by photo’s of Fruchocs in all their growth stages – and you know I can’t get them!

  5. Celia
    21/09/2011

    Wow! Crown Mints I knew, but Fruchocs are a completely new one to me! Fun post, thanks Amanda! 🙂

  6. Kate
    21/09/2011

    Fruchocs are new to me and I have been eating/studying all manner of confectionary in a very up close and personal way for a long. long time. I must get me some !!

  7. Mirella
    22/09/2011

    Love this post!

  8. Miss Kimbers @ Fruit Salad & Mixed Veg
    24/09/2011

    I used to love Fru Chocs. I even applied to do year 10 work experience at their factory but they either didn’t do it or didn’t want me there.

    Anyway, I had a Fru Choc a month or so ago, after not having one for years. It was rather ordinary and much to sweet. So no more for me:)

  9. Cakelaw
    24/09/2011

    I have never heard of Fruchocs before, but they sound delicious. Robern also make glace fruit, I thinl, that my mother buys every Xmas.

  10. Hotly Spiced
    24/09/2011

    Ohhhh, I would have loved to have been there. That’s a really interesting blog. Lovely to see a company that’s doing such a great job still being run by Australians – long may it last!

  11. cityhippyfarmgirl
    25/09/2011

    fruit and chocolate have always, allllways been a match in heaven. It’s probably best that I don’t have access to them. Far safer Amanda.

  12. abrand
    22/02/2016

    Alwaye remembered that YO YO’s was a menz bikkie. Not available in Qld and miss them. Also menz malt. A chocolatey colour and 4x5cm appro. in size. Use to go to corner store for mum before supermarkets and buy them. Why can’t someome make them now. They where different from the malt bikkie on the market today.