Manufacturing News

Finally, the Polly Waffle is back – but not as we know and love it

Manufacturing News

By Peter Roberts

Finally the Polly Waffle – that strangely popular chocolate bar made of baked waffle filled with marshmallow – is back.. That’s the good news.

Not so good is that Adelaide confectionery manufacturer Robern Menz, which bought the rights to the Polly Waffle from Nestle, is not returning to the market with a Polly Waffle as we know it.

Instead of the original long tubular shape, the fourth generation family-owned confectionery manufacturer is launching new Polly Waffle Bites which it describes as ‘dellicious bite sized pieces of soft vanilla marshmallow covered in milk chocolate with crunchy pieces of wafer throughout’.

Even the company seems to understand the sacrilege here – in a statement today it only said: “Reminiscent of the original Polly Waffle first created in 1947 and sold up until 2009, (Polly Waffle Bites) will hit retailer shelves across Australia from late April 2024”.

Reminiscent? It is not even close.

The company admits that the issue here is that despite buying the rights in 2019, and investing $5.2 million in new machinery, the Adelaide company simply cannot manufacture a modern Polly Waffle.

“Due to manufacturing complexities, expenses, and additional time required, Bites will replace the original bar permanently.

“Menz acquired the rights to produce Polly Waffle in 2019 from Nestlé, and spent the past several years researching and developing how to manufacture the product locally in South Australia.

“Progress slowed due to COVID border closures restricting the development team from travelling to source and test critical manufacturing equipment, and a new recipe needed to be created.

“The original machinery used to create Polly Waffle was also decommissioned by the previous manufacturer, meaning development was starting from scratch.”

I had long suspected that the delay in launching the new Polly Waffle was that making it ready for manufacture – an effort backed by a $1 million federal government Modernising Manufacturing grant – was too hard.

Because of changes in scope of the project, the grant will likely be less than $350,000.

Baking a waffle shell, cooling it and then filling it with marshmallow is not just a matter of machinery – the secrets to making it died with the factory workers who used to make the machinery work.

Menz CEO Phil Sims (pictured) said: “We have a long history of saving and supporting nostalgic Aussie brands like Violet Crumble and FruChocs, so we have been excited by the opportunity to bring Polly Waffle back.

“Polly Waffle had not been produced in more than ten years when we acquired it, so we essentially had to start from scratch to find out how we could produce it at our South Australian factory.

“What we couldn’t anticipate was the number of variables out of our control, from COVID border closures restricting access to equipment, and updated retailer expectations.

“To recreate the traditional bar would require even more time and funding, without the guarantee that it would have the same quality that consumers remember.”

Sims said rather than putting a subpar product in the market, especially one as much loved as Polly Waffle, it took the ‘responsible’ decision to create Polly Waffle Bites.

“We thank our customers and Polly Waffle fans for their ongoing support and patience.

“We know it’s been a journey and we can’t wait for you to enjoy this delicious nostalgic treat, with a modern take in April.”

Further reading:
First Robern Menz made the Violet Crumble, now the Polly Waffle
Manufacturing news briefs – the Polly Waffle is coming soon

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