Yowies Are Also Candy In Oz
By Josh Schonwald
Speak Magazine Article

NOTE: This article appeared in the January/February 1999 edition of Speak Magazine, a San Francisco based A4 glossy magazine which covers stories and identities of interest from all over the world as well as continental USA. Journalistic license was employed with some of the quotes attributed to me!
Australian Rob Leong can tell you where to find a Boof, Ditty or a Rumble. He can explain the difference between a kingfisher and a regular kookaburra. And he can tell you whether a Golden Platypus is really worth $US300.
Boof, Ditty, Rumble and the coveted Golden Platypus are all part of the Cadbury candy company's Yowie line. And Yowies, two-inch tall chocolate candies, modeled on a big, hairy, mythical Australian creature (believed to be a cousin of the Himalyan yeti or North American sasquatch) have taken Australia by storm. Ever since they were launched in 1997, they have dominated the children's candy market Down Under.
Few know Yowies better than Leong, a thirty-four-year-old businessman in Prahran, Australia. Leong manages and possesses the email address, and spends hours each week answering questions about Yowies.
Although Yowies started as a kid fave, Leong estimates that grownups now do eighty percent of the buying. And that can get expensive - while Yowies retail for seventy-five cents a piece (US), peple have paid over US$300 for a single Yowie. Leong adds that it's not uncommon for an adult to go directly to a wholesaler and buy forty to one hundred and sixty Yowies. After her seven-year-old daughter bought twelve Yowies, Leanne Butler, a health worker in Bendigo, tok over as the family's Yowie maniac. "I have approximately three hundred Yowies, and counting," she says.
Leong notes that, "Parents think nothing of buying fifty Yowies at a time." He theorizes that they're willing to buy so many of these chocolates because Yowies are educational. Inside each Yowie is an assemble-it-yourself plastic bush animal - such as a wombat or koala - and information about endangered species. "You could never shove environmentalism down most kids throats," says Leong. "But with Yowies, kids are learning by default."
As is he. Like many Australians, Leong is in the Yowie biz to make money. But he's also become a native species expert of sorts, as he's often called upon to answer questions such as: "How can I tell the difference between a dingo and a bright orange dingo?"
If Yowies remain popular, Leong might become a veritable zoologist, as well as a successful businessman. He, for one, wouldn't mind if the Yowie concept were imported to other countries, such as Canada. "A Maple bear Yowie," he says, "would be awesome."


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