The Untold Truth Of Tim Tams

In 1958, a horse named Tim Tam won the Kentucky Derby in Churchill Downs and then went on to win the Preakness Stakes in Pimlico, Maryland. He would have gone for the Triple Crown too if he hadn't been injured, after which he retired from racing. His pedigree now lives on through his daughters, but his name lives on through something entirely different (via American Classic Pedigrees). 

Tim Tam's racing prowess earned him a place in the National Museum Racing Hall of Fame in 1985, but he wouldn't have been as well-known if a gentleman from Australia named John Arnott hadn't been at the race and been wowed by the winner. Today, Tim Tam doesn't just belong in the horse lore section of public knowledge; the name is synonymous with what is arguably one of the world's most popular biscuits. Remember: "It's not a cookie, it's a Tim Tam" (via Bon Appetit). 

Tim Tams were inspired by another biscuit

As is the case with another sweet snack legend, the Oreo, the cream-filled, chocolate-covered Tim Tams were inspired by another treat. Arnott's director of food technology Ian Norris came up with the idea of Tim Tams when he was traveling around the world trying to find the next big thing in biscuits. His search led him to the UK, where he discovered McVities' Penguins. These were first launched in 1932 and are arguably identical to the infamous Tim Tams (via British Corner Shop). "I thought that was not a bad idea for a biscuit. ... We'll make a better one," Norris told The Sydney Morning Herald back in 2003. After that, it was left to Norris to experiment with different flavors and biscuit textures, while Ross Arnott came up with the now iconic name. 

Tim Tams have a monopoly on Australia's biscuit market

Tim Tams have been Australia's most popular biscuit since they made their debut in the Australian snack market. The Culture Trip says that Tim Tams can be found in 50 percent of Australian households (that's one in every two homes, in case you wanted to do the math) and Australians eat as many as 45 million packets of Tim Tams a year in spite of the fact that the treat only holds a half Health Star Rating (via Arnott's). And while there are now different Tim Tam flavors to suit your every desire — from Tim Tam Darks and Tim Tam Whites to Tim Tam Chewy Caramel and Tim Tam Choc Mint — Bon Appetit says the Original is what sits closest to the heart of a true Tim Tam fan. Well, that and Double Coated, because who can say no to extra chocolate?

Tim Tams are no longer owned by an Australian company

Tim Tams and its biscuit siblings may be deeply entrenched in the Australian culture, but Arnott's, the company that makes them, is no longer Australian ... at least for now. In 1970, Arnott's signed a deal with American food giant Campbell's, to allow both entities to compete better against the likes of Nabisco, whose snacks were considered to be more competitive. Campbell's took control of the company in 1997 (via ABC). The deal with Campbells also allowed Tim Tams to eventually make their way onto U.S. grocery shelves in 2017, per Bon Appetit.

Tim Tams are now owned by U.S. private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, but many of the biscuits are still made in Australia. In order to meet the country's insatiable demand for the treat, 3,000 Tim Tams are made every minute. Twenty tons of Tim Tam's chocolate coating, which is made with three types of chocolate and tastes like caramel, are produced every 24 hours (via Biscuit People).

In a battle between Tim Tams and Penguins, there is just one winner

While Tim Tams are the almost-clones of McVitie's Penguins, it wasn't until July of 2020 that non-traveling Australians got a chance to compare the two treats on Tim Tam's home shores. McVitie's development chief Mark Schomberg prepped Aussies on what to expect. "The key difference is the crunch factor," he said. "Penguins have a great bite to them. They audibly crack when they hit your teeth, whilst still having that delicious chocolate coating, double biscuit layering, and chocolate cream filling" (via The AU Review). There's also the fact that Penguins are a tad longer.

But when Good Food eventually got around to carrying out the taste test, there was no competition. The site determined that while Tim Tams may not have been as crunchy, they also weren't as "cloying," their cocoa flavor hit the right notes, and the texture was smoother. So yes, points to you, Tim Tam.

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson has waxed poetic about the Tim Tam Slam

You know you're onto something when a world-famous astrophysicist describes your biscuit as part of a transformative moment during a science lecture. He claims it was "different from anything else I have ever experienced."

In a YouTube tutorial called "The Tim Tam Slam," Neil deGrasse Tyson talks about biting off two small corners of a Tim Tam in a diagonal way (he actually asks the viewer to "go to a hypotenuse down to the other corner") then using that as a straw by dipping it in a hot liquid. After sucking up the liquid for about two seconds, you'll be smooshing the now soft and runny chocolate biscuit into your mouth. "It just diiiiiiiisoolves explosively on your tongue," deGrasse Tyson says with a wide-eyed, ecstatic expression.

But don't take our word for it — or deGrasse's for that matter. Lots of people have tried the Tim Tam Slam — head over to the supermarket and give it a go!