William Arnott.
Home of the Milk Arrowroot  Biscuit

Milk Arrowroot Biscuit

In the late 19th and early 20th century, Arnotts sought testimonials from people feeding their little ones on milk arrowroot biscuits. The possibility that an image of their child might be chosen to illustrate an advertisement was irresistible. The company was soon swamped by photos and letters from doting parents.

Below is an Arnott’s advertisement from 1899. I am almost lost for words….words of praise I hasten to add;

This picture is from a photo of Master JACK O’DONNELL (son of Mr John O’Donnell, 70 Sophia Street, Surry Hills.) Taken at the age of 12 months. As will be observed from the testimonial attached, this fine, handsome boy, who is really a magnificent specimen of almost perfect health and physique, was fed from the age of two weeks upwards on ARNOTTS MILK ARROWROOT BISCUITS.

 Advert....Baby raised on milk arrowroot   biscuits!
Wow, what a bonny bruiser!

Now here is a young chap aged two; RUDOLPH JOHN PERCIVAL FLETCHER. My word, he had a lot to live up to with that name…..not to mention the bow. The picture was headed, AN ARNOTT’S MILK ARROWROOT BISCUIT BOY. Rudolph was two years old, and hailed from the Sydney suburb of Marrickville.


But perhaps my favourite of the Arrowroot children is dear little Myrtle…..fed on the biscuits from the age of, wait for it…eight days! For pre-teeth infants, the advice was to crush the biscuits with milk and use a feeding bottle. May I present Miss Myrtle aged 1 year 4 months.

Miss Mrytle the Milk Arrowroot infant.


Ode to the Milk Arrowroot biscuit.

I was very amused to read this satirical piece in the Daily Telegraph;

We received information at a late hour last night that a little boy residing in Crown Street, Surry Hills had refused one of Arnott’s Milk Arrowroot Biscuits when offered to him by his mother! The whole neighbourhood was said to be in a state of great excitement owing to the occurrence of such a strange incident. We despatched a special reporter to make inquiries into the matter, but at the time of our going to press he had not returned. We cannot think that there can be much truth in this sad report, but we will give full information about it in tomorrow’s issue.

What the reporter discovered was never divulged, but if true there would have been one solution Surely no little Australian boy, then or now, would refuse the biscuit in the following form;

milk arrowroot football biscuits.

They were also popular at birthday parties decorated as ‘faces’ with jellybeans, smarties and good old hundreds & thousands etc. I wonder whether they still are?

Since originally posting this story I have heard from Elaine Byrne, an ‘Arrowroot’ baby in the 1940s. In turn, Elaine gave her own six little ones breakfasts of milk arrowroot biscuits mixed with milk and sugar. 🥣


And here is Elaine at a reunion of those famous babies in the 1980s. She is in the front row, third from right. Oh yes, still the picture of health. Thanks for sharing these special photos Elaine. 😊


Milk Arrowroot biscuits were part of my own childhood and very dear to my heart, along with milk in another form……CONDENSED

  1. eek! they are freaky looking children! how bizarre!

  2. They all look overweight to me, especially that first one. I wonder how much sugar was in one biscuit. I do like arrowroot cookies, but I find them a little too sweet for my taste. I use a lot of arrowroot powder, though. It’s supposed to be quite healthy, and no sugar to deal with. Thanks for sharing this amusing post, Pauline.

    • Pauline

      I’m sure those biscuits were VERY unhealthy. Since I posted this on FB people have been telling me that they were fed on them as babies too, and a couple still eat them for breakfast!

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