Arnott’s always had a good eye for advertising. There were colourful posters that shops could put in their window, but it was for its tins that Arnott’s was always justly famous. The brightly decorated biscuit containers became synonymous with the company – like the red trucks, they were the public face of the company, they were Arnott’s. And for many, many years, that was the way the biscuits were packaged – in the bickie tin.
There doesn’t seem to be any record of when Arnott’s started to use their brightly decorated biscuit containers that became synonymous with the company. The earliest recorded date we can find is 1910.
In early times, around 1918, with the soldiers back from the war and labour on tap, the cost of packing the biscuits in tins was very low and this form of packaging was continued.
Then came the rationing of World War II, rationing that was to remain for years after the war ended. The government, as part of the post-war restrictions, limited the quantity of packaging machinery a company could have.
At one stage, because Arnott’s couldn’t keep up with demand for the very popular tins (which served a myriad of purposes – how many adults and children stored their “treasure” in the famous biscuit tins, which were then hidden in the toolshed, or down the bottom of the garden, under several inches of earth?) the company was entirely dependent on the tins that were returned by shopkeepers.
Grocers gave customers one shilling and six pence for returning each tin. Then the empties would come back in the trucks, be unloaded and washed in a specially designed plant, and head for the packing conveyors again. It was a fine and early example of recycling.
These days the tins are only produced on special occasions such as Christmas, Anzac Day or special events. But they are eagerly sought after by the many avid collectors of these colourful containers.
Tea & Bickies on the Front Verandah
During the month of June, at the Concord Library, we will be showcasing some of our own collection of Arnott’s and Bushell’s tins, as well as other items from our museum collections.
If you enjoyed this display, bring the family along to our museum on any Wednesday or Saturday, between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm to see what else we have in our collections to tell the history and heritage of the City of Canada Bay.