Sunday, October 26, 2014

That’s our tucker

My previous post today talked about different food in different countries, specifically, what I found as an American expat in New Zealand. There are even more differences, as I was reminded today, that can turn up in unexpected places. Like fast food places.

I had McDonald’s for lunch today (deal with it!) and chose the Angus Kiwiburger, an updated version of McDonald’s NZ’s classic burger, now celebrating its 25th anniversary. They said of it:
The Kiwiburger is back. It’s packed with a 100% NZ beef patty, a freshly cracked egg, beetroot, tomato, crispy lettuce, cheese, onions, mustard & ketchup on a sesame seed bun. Reunite your mouth with the old school taste.
The burger was first trialled in Hamilton, then added to the menu nationwide in 1991 with TV commercials with a catchy jingle. You can see the original commercial online, or a later version that accompanied a limited return of the Kiwiburger is below:

The jingle mentions 46 different items of Kiwiana, which is interesting since the Kiwiburger itself hearkens back to classic takeaway burgers—making it Kiwiana of a sort itself. The lyrics of the original version are:
"Kiwis love Hot pools, Rugby balls, McDonald's, snapper schools, World Peace, Woolly Fleece, Ronald and Raising Beasts. Chilly Bins, Cricket Wins, Fast Skis, Golf Tees, Silver Ferns, Kauri Trees, Kiwi Burger, love one please... [spoken] McDonald's KiwiBurger. The classic New Zealand burger. [song resumes] Cause We Love All blacks, Thermal Daks, Egg & Cheese, Walking Tracks, Beef Pattie, Marching Girls, Tomato, Lettuce and Paua shells, Gumboots, Ponga Shoots, Floppy Hats, Kiwifruits, Beetroot, Buzzy Bees, Moggy Cats, Cabbage Trees, Onions, Kakapos, Kia oras, Cheerios, Jandals, Sandals, Ketchup, Coromandels, Swanndris, Butterflies, Mustard, Fishing Flies, Hokey Pokey, Maori Haka… Kiwi burger That's our tucker!"
The resurrected commercial in the video above has a longer spoken part which means the lyrics don’t pick up until “Swanndris”. All the lyrics are printed on the tray liners they’re using at the moment (detail photo up top of this post), and that’s actually where this post began.

“I’d have a tough time explaining to Americans what a lot of that is even referring to,” I said to Nigel after I’d scanned the list. He suggested I post about it, and even went to get me a pristine tray liner so I could scan it (it turned out to be too big to scan, hence the detail photo).

First, I have to say that as a new immigrant, the idea of egg and beetroot (slices of beets) on a burger seemed frankly appalling. I was used to the bland burgers that McDonald’s and Burger King sold in the USA at the time, and, well, the idea just seemed weird.

But a new immigrant has a duty, I think, to dive into the local culture, so I tried the Kiwiburger and quite liked it (for the record, the Angus version is even nicer—worth every cent extra it costs over the original version). That wasn’t the first time that happened to me, and it still happens.

As an aside, I visited Australia for about a week before I arrived in New Zealand as a tourist, and there I found a burger chain called “Hungry Jack’s”, which is what Burger King is called in Australia. They had a burger called The Aussie, which is very similar, except they add bacon and BBQ sauce. McDonald’s Australia for a time had a burger they called the McOz, but it didn’t include an egg and was eventually discontinued.

Back here in New Zealand, a local chain called Burger Wisconsin (of all things) has a burger called the Kiwi Classic which sounds like a cross between the Kiwiburger and The Aussie. I’ve never had it, but it sounds nice.

Aside from explaining a burger with beetroot and an egg, and assuring that it’s quite nice, there are other things mentioned in the jingle that may not be obvious to overseas folks. Here are the ones I think may need some explaining: Chilly Bins (coolers or eskies), Thermal Daks (basically warm, usually floppy pants often worn by farmers), Beef Pattie (note the spelling…), Gumboots (rubber boots), Ponga Shoots (refers to the koru of the ponga, a new frond of the silver fern), Kiwifruits (the fruit is ALWAYS correctly called “kiwifruit,” and never just “kiwi”; the “s” isn’t actually used to denote plural, btw), Buzzy Bees (children’s toy), Moggy Cats (mixed breed cats), Cabbage Trees (Cordyline australis), Cheerios (small saveloy sausages, especially popular at children’s parties; also known as little boys and, apparently, cocktail sausages, though I can’t remember having heard them called that.) Jandals (flip flops or thongs; derived from “Japanese Sandals”), Coromandels (refers to the Coromandel Peninsula or ranges), Swanndris (a brand of warm outdoor clothing), Hokey Pokey (technically honeycomb toffee, but actually refers to hokey pokey ice cream, which is popular in New Zealand).

As with everything else in a nation, some things are open to differing interpretations (as for example, cheerios). I’ve included what I’ve learned the words to mean; others can disagree in the comments.

One last thing: “tucker” is, basically, food. The word’s used, one way or another, in several slang phrases, but I think that’s enough Kiwi language and culture education for one day.

Besides, I seem to be strangely hungry right now…


rogerogreen said...

You are correct; beetroot and egg sounds weird to this American's taste buds.

Arthur (AmeriNZ) said...

Yep. Fortunately, it turned out to be nice!