It is one of Australia’s most recognisable chocolate treats. Now its makers have revealed some truths behind the mysterious green beetle.
It is one of Australia’s most recognisable chocolate treats. Now its makers have revealed some truths behind the mysterious green beetle.

Strange fact about iconic Aussie chocolate

Children have been turning out in droves to buy a Bertie Beetle showbag at Sydney's Royal Easter Show - a rare opportunity to get their hands on the famous chocolate and honeycomb treat.

Lining up for a Bertie Beetle showbag is a rite of passage for Aussie kids and a staple at the nation's agricultural shows and exhibitions.

Much about the iconic choccy treat - once available at milk bars and corner shops in the 1970s - remains a mystery, even to its maker Nestle.

Speaking to NCA NewsWire, Nestle Oceania head of corporate affairs Margaret Stuart said the sweet treat was invented in 1963 and initially sold in stores, but decades later a deal was struck to sell it mainly in showbags at major events.

"Bertie is much more successful in a showbag than it was in store," she said.

"Bertie has always been such a standout showbag. When people buy Bertie they're not just buying the chocolate honeycomb, it's also a really iconic part of going to an agricultural show."

Charlotte, Billy and Theo tried Bertie Beetles for the first time. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dylan Coker
Charlotte, Billy and Theo tried Bertie Beetles for the first time. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dylan Coker

When Bertie was born in the 60s, to rival Cadbury's Freddo Frog, its original maker Hoadley's Chocolates used waste from Violet Crumble trimmings to produce the chocolate treat.

Then in 2011 the company stopped using waste honeycomb and switched to sourcing other honeycomb pieces.

Bertie's branding has evolved over the decades too, including its packaging and also the shape of the chocolate itself.

"Bertie has changed shape and changed his wrapper," Ms Stuart said.

"It used to be a little beetle-shaped chocolate wrapped in foil."

When Sydney's Royal Easter Show was cancelled last year during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, the Bertie Beetle showbags were sold online and in IGA stores.

Strangely, while most chocolates are readily available from retailers year-round, Bertie Beetle is not.

There are about 50 independent "retro" confectionary stores across the country that sell the honeycomb beetle, according to the product's agency Chicane Marketing.

Showbags can also be purchased online. But otherwise the only way to indulge in the honeycomb treat is to line up with the masses at the annual show.

The iconic chocolate treat can also be purchased online and from select stores.
The iconic chocolate treat can also be purchased online and from select stores.

At this year's Royal Easter Show there are various Bertie Beetle bags on display, including the retro, bonanza and triple deal bags that range in price between $2 and $18.

Joceline Branson and her three kids, Billy, 12, Charlotte, 8, and Theo, 6, were among those who snapped up a showbag this year.

"I think it's been 30 years since I had a Bertie Beetle. It still tastes the same," Ms Branson said.

"And it's the kids' first time trying it, they loved it."

Chicane Marketing director Emily Williams said the product performed incredibly well at shows thanks to one key element - nostalgia.

"It's got such a long history and it's synonymous with the royal shows," she said.

"For people it's memory. When they think royal show they think Bertie Beetle because that's what they grew up with, and then they pass that on to their children and their children's children."

Ms Stuart echoed those sentiments.

"When you're making history you don't know you are, and then time passes and it becomes something people are interested in, but the business process that you went through has been lost to time, and what's left is the product and some memories," she said.

Originally published as Strange fact about iconic Aussie chocolate

Their mum Joceline Branson hadn’t had a Bertie Beetle for 30 years. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dylan Coker
Their mum Joceline Branson hadn’t had a Bertie Beetle for 30 years. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dylan Coker
Bertie Beetle is synonymous with the royal shows.
Bertie Beetle is synonymous with the royal shows.

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