British photographic history

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Resource: World's largest photographic archive of sugar-fed young Australians

There are always crumbs of information about photographs to be had in strange places, most recently in an article in the Guardian about this book The Biscuit: the History of a Very British Indulgence by Lizzie Collingham (Bodley Head £18.99) is published on 29 October. Moving on from the many chosen facts relating to the British penchant for biscuits is this choice entry.

An Australian biscuit company holds the world’s largest collection of baby photos
In the 1880s, the Australian biscuit manufacturer Arnott’s invented the milk arrowroot biscuit as a product particularly suitable for children’s delicate digestions. They then launched the first advertising campaign to solicit feedback from customers. Proud parents were encouraged to send in photographs of the healthy offspring they had raised on Arnott’s biscuits. Over the next 60 years, the company received tens of thousands of baby photographs. The winning entrants regularly featured in Arnott’s newspaper advertisements. Arnott’s now have one of the world’s largest photographic archives of sugar-fed young Australians.

Here is a blogpost to introduce you to the topic of Arnott's advertising, and to introduce you to one way to spend many hours during winter on the National Library of Australia's wonderful Trove exploring how to find these advertisements amongst the thousands of free available digitised newspapers.

Since these advertisements, Arnott's has swallowed up a range of regional and local biscuit manufacturers before itself being consumed by the US company Campbell's. I'm not sure of the current ownership but for those who like such snippets, the ginger nut biscuit still retains its dunking qualities, and also regional variations in flavour depending on which factory is making it, because the ginger nut is made from the crumbs of broken biscuits. 

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