Your favourite childhood snacks are now your favourite homewares


Amy Richardson

Classic treats (or, should we say, 'nostalgic noms') such as Bubble O' Bills, Golden Gaytimes and fairy bread are serving as design inspiration for local artists, keen to express their love for Australia's most iconic foods. 

Here are 10 local designers who have turned snacking into an artform.

1. Dawn Tan


"Food makes me happy, it makes everyone happy," says Melbourne-based artist Dawn Tan, originally from Singapore, who creates whimsical watercolour artworks starring her most loved snacks, such as this 'Smiths Salt & Vinegar chips' print, and 'Aussie Yummies' print, both from $55.

"Growing up in Singapore, I was surrounded by food all the time," she says. "I come from a huge family of foodies so it was only natural that I started drawing them, too. I absolutely love how food can come in so many different shapes, sizes, colours and form. Food is such a universal thing, yet there's a seemingly endless variety to it. It's fascinating!" 

2. Kirbee Lawler 

The early bird catches the… Iced Vovo. This Sydney designer recently released a ridiculously cute range of prints featuring native birds snacking on Australian biscuits.  

"My latest series of Australian native birds with their favourite Australian biscuits has been a fun series to work on," says Lawler, who has an Etsy store and will also be appearing at Finders Keepers Sydney later this month. "I was inspired by Australia's iconic birds and biscuits that are unlike any other birds and biscuits from around the world," she says. 

3. Chantelery Studio 

Have your cake and eat it too with this sweet 'Lamington' print, $70, by Melbourne artist Chantel de Latour. "Apart from being a visually attractive subject to illustrate, lamingtons reflect the Australian temperament - cheerful, unpretentious and reliable," explains de Latour.

4. Ellie Whittaker 

Instagram has gone crazy for dresses, bibs and banners created out of fabrics starring Bubble O' Bills, Golden Gaytimes, Licorice Allsorts and Vegemite toast - and they're all thanks to Gold Coast artist Ellie Whittaker

Whittaker was inspired to design the patriotic patterns after a stint overseas. "When my husband and I returned home, it struck me that the Aussie 'cultural cringe' (that is: an inferiority complex about our culture) is alive and well," she explains. "I sought about rectifying that by creating readily available fabrics featuring cultural icons: Vegemite, Bubble O' Bills, Hills Hoists, The Tasmanian Tiger, even the Ibis. The response to my fabrics has been overwhelming: Australian makers and consumers are hungry to celebrate and my fabrics are their outlet."

5. Wombats Picnic

Kids can serve up Australia's best-loved bikkies and cakes for play afternoon tea thanks to Geelong artist Cynthia Scherer's felt creations, $40/set. The designer began making felt toys under the name Wombats Picnic as a way of providing a connection with her home country.

"Having lived overseas with my two older children, I was always conscious of keeping them connected with their Australian roots. When we moved back to Australia, I thought it would be easier but was actually surprised at the lack of that connection in simple things like play-food, so I made my own. My biscuit and cake set reminds people of an afternoon tea with their nan (Iced Vovo), a birthday party when they were growing up (fairy bread), making biscuits with their mum (Anzac biscuits), and it allows them to share and pass on those memories to their children, as well as create new ones."

6. Make Me Iconic

Not only are wooden puzzles great for teaching kids spatial awareness and problem solving, this 'Iconic Munchies' puzzle, $30, also brings them up to speed on Australia's favourite fast foods.

"Maybe it's Vegemite on toast or a snag on bread - these are the unsung icons of Australian cuisine!", says Natasha Skunca of Make Me Iconic. "Fairy bread, pavlova, the lamington and the humble meat pie or burger with good old-fashioned Aussie-style beetroot and egg - these are our tasty treats that seem normal to our diets as Aussies, but very strange to anyone else."

7. Drawn & Courted

"I chose quintessentially Australian images, hoping to bring nostalgic smiles to faces," says Courtney Jackson of the designs she creates for her Etsy store Drawn & Courted, which includes Aussie Ice-cream greeting cards, $6 each, and an 'Australian tinnie' tea towel, $25.

"Cracking a cold tinnie or scraping together enough change for an ice-cream at the poolside kiosk are seminal Aussie activities well worth sharing and celebrating," says Jackson. 

8. Made By Claire Louise

Melbourne maker Claire Louise creates felt play foods showcasing a wide variety of foods - from colourful fruit and veg to baked beans on toast, but she has a soft spot for her fairy bread design, $16.

"I was such a fussy kid growing up and I literally only ate fairy bread and 2-minute noodles for like three years," she says. "If I didn't have to be an adult I would probably still eat it every day!" 

The majority of the felt she uses is made from recycled plastic bottles. 

9. Whiteman Park Print Shop

Perfect to post to a foodie friend, these cards featuring Anzac biscuits, pavlova, Vegemite on toast, lamingtons or fairy bread, also include recipes on the back. They are $7 each or $25/set of five, from Perth letterpress specialists Whiteman Park Print Shop who collaborated with illustrator Pony & Ink.

"The 'Foods of Australia' cards were created out of my love for food and Australiana," says Ann Ong of Whiteman Park Print Shop. "We have many tourists who come and visit our shop wanting souvenir items to take back to their home countries. I wanted to create a card that showcased a slice of Australia but could be a keepsake, too. I tried and tested the recipes and collaborated with Pony & Ink on the artwork. All the cards are letterpress printed on our vintage printing presses."

10. Jess The Chen

For a taste of all your favourite childhood memories rolled into one, check out Jess The Chen's 'Aussie Handmade' zine, $7.50. With 12 pages devoted to Tim Tams, VB, Vegemite and the rest, it's great for gifting to overseas friends interested in expanding their knowledge of Australiana or for adding to your own personal zine collection.         

Classic snack trivia

• Bubble O' Bill was originally an American ice confectionery, launched into the US in 1985 by Good Humor, modeled on famous cowboy Buffalo Bill. They were later brought to Australia and achieved widespread success. Now they are only available in Australia and NZ, and the character has his own Facebook page.

• Tim Tams came on the market in Australia in 1964. They were named after the winning horse from the 1958 Kentucky Derby.  A cheese-flavoured Tim Tam which includes real cheddar cheese is available in Indonesia. 

• The Iced Vovo was invented in 1906, but according to Wikipedia, "a similar product (called Mikado) has been sold in Ireland by Jacobs biscuits since 1888."