This was sent to me by Alan McCutcheon who is
the author of the A
Picture is Worth A Thousand Words page. Alan reports that it was sent
to him by some who identified themselves as DJMORTON.
Father of the Tim Tam, 1921-2000
The biscuit company executive who played a key role in making
the Tim Tam an Australian icon, Don McLean has died in Melbourne at the age of
He was born in Ballarat, and grew up in Colac in Victoria. He
married his childhood sweetheart, Margaret, in Brisbane in 1942 and, after war
service with the Signals Corps in New Guinea, settled in Melbourne.
During the 1950s, as sales manager for The General Milk
Company, McLean introduced Carnation Milk into Australia.
In 1959 he contracted meningitis, encephalitis and suspected
polio and spent three months in an iron lung. He made a full recovery, which was
attributed to his previous physical fitness and the fact that he did not smoke.
McLean joined the NSW biscuit-making company William Arnott
Pty Ltd, of Homebush, in 1960.
Working from a new Victorian office in the Melbourne suburb of
Fairfield, he introduced the company's NSW favourites into Victoria, and later
He also travelled around the world on Arnott's business for
The organisation grew quickly through mergers with companies
whose names were once household words but now are memories - Guest and Brockhoff,
Swallow and Ariel, Peak Frean and Sunshine.
Through all this growth, McLean retained his position as
general sales manager.
He had responsibility for creating and marketing new products.
Which is where Tim Tams come in.
Although Arnott's is unable to confirm it, the Tim Tam,
according to McLean, was based loosely on a chocolate bar made by MacRobertson.
Arnott's had purchased the rights to the chocolate bar.
McLean and his team modified and adapted elements of the bar
to create a biscuit, and launched it as the Tim Tam.
Recently, his son asked him how the name came about. McLean
said he could not remember.
Corporate legend at Arnott's, however, tells the tale this
way: One of the company's executives, an Arnott called Ross, was travelling in
the US in 1958, the year a horse named Tim Tam won the Kentucky Derby.
Legend does not record whether Ross Arnott won a packet on Tim
Tam, the thoroughbred, but his company certainly did nicely on the
The name is as immortal now as any biscuit can be,
indisputably an Australian icon.
Baby boomers will have fond memories of some of McLean's other
successes, not all of which have proved to be immortal.
Among the more popular creations were Kingston, Melting
Moments, Chocolate Cherry Crown and Tropicana.
Some of these were made especially for McLean's children, who
willingly taste-tested all the prototypes.
Ironically, he made the decision not to continue marketing one
of his own favourites, the Chocolate Monte, in Victoria. Chocolate Teddy Bears
had always outsold Montes in Victoria.
McLean was ever grateful to interstate visitors who brought
packets of Montes across the border from Sydney for him.
For their part, his colleagues at Arnott's held McLean in high
esteem and said he had made an invaluable contribution to the success of the
He retired in 1983 and spent the last 15 years in happy,
active retirement with Margaret at Walmsley Village, Kilsyth, on the outskirts
She survives him, as do their four children, Ross, Judy, Jenny