In 1958, a horse called Tim Tam won the Kentucky Derby. Six years later, the Australian biscuit manufacturer Arnott’s named their (now) iconic cookie after the horse. Inspired by British Penguin cookies, Tim Tams feature two biscuits, a creamy filling, and a chocolate coating. This seemingly unremarkable structure gives Tim Tams a unique advantage: the ability to form a momentary straw.
The identities of the first culinary innovators are lost to history. But by the 1980s, university students in Melbourne were biting off opposite corners of the cookie and using it like a straw in hot beverages. After a few seconds, the liquid dissolves the center of the Tim Tam, and the molten cookie has to be “slammed” before it falls apart. Slamming simply means shoving the whole cookie into one’s mouth. (Note: Arnott’s insists that Tim Tams are biscuits and not cookies.)
Arnott’s joined the bandwagon with an advertising campaign that, unfortunately, referred to the activity as a “Tim Tam suck.” Luckily, the superior “slam” name has stuck, even finding a place in the musical world thanks to the Australian band Oxo Cubans’ song Tim Tam Slam:
“Get yourself a hot drink and Tim Tam or two,
then bite both ends off one and use it as a straw,
then quickly gulp the lot before it ends up on the floor.
Hot chocolate, tea or coffee, it’s a choice you’ll have to make,
‘cos when it comes to sugar rush, this really takes the cake,
we were doing the Tim Tam Slam.”
Everyone from Jennifer Love Hewitt to astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson has weighed in on the Tim Tam slam. According to Tyson, the sensation is “a moment in your life experience that you can chalk up and say ‘That was different from anything else I’ve ever experienced.’”
Need to Know
Outside Australia, you can selectively find Tim Tams in stores. The company website has a helpful Tim Tam locator.