Sao biscuits are almost as iconic as Anzacs, although  they were far too delicate to send to our troops in the first and second world wars.  However, in 1933 an  anonymous poet did conjure a military connection dating back to a far earlier conflict. Apparently it was all in the shape, and it now occurs to me that there are very few square biscuits.

The square infantry formation  at Waterloo was in response to calvary attacks. The traditional ‘line’  was susceptible to  mounted forces, as the horses could simply burst through it or ride around  each end.



I doubt Mr Arnott had this arcane fact  in mind at the Sao design stage in 19o4 but the squares are certainly very practical for snacks and school lunches.

Remember spreading them with butter and Vegemite and squeezing until little ‘worms’ appeared through the holes. Any food that kids can play with is a winner.

By the way, I wonder whether people still use Sao biscuits to make vanilla slices?


I’m sure why anyone would bother, but you can make your own Sao biscuits. Here is a recipe from the days of the Great Depression;


These biscuits are very nice for lunch or afternoon tea if spread thinly with butter. Moreover, they are most economical. They require 1lb flour, 1 teaspoon of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Put over it nearly a cup of boiling water, stir until melted and then mix with flour. sugar and salt and make into a smooth paste. Roll as thin as paper and cut into squares or with fancy cutter. Prick all over with a fork and bake in a moderate oven. They should be crisp and can be eaten with cheese or served with stewed fruit just to you taste, just like Saos. (Dandenong Journal. 26 Feb. 1931)

NOTE – The Origin of the name Sao is a bit of a mystery. Some say it stands for Salvation Army Officer, a tribute to a member of the Arnott family.












  1. Love my saos. With butter!

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