Dundee: Crocodiles, Celts & Cake
Written by Esther Johnson
It’s now over 30 years since the iconic Australian movie, Crocodile Dundee, hit theatres in the United States and made Paul Hogan the face and character of Australia for many people around the world. His portrayal of Aussie adventurer and bushman, Mick “Crocodile” Dundee, won him an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy. There is no doubt about the huge significance and impact that the Crocodile Dundee series has had on Australian tourism. In fact, Hogan was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for service to tourism and entertainment at the height of the movie’s fame.
Australian Tourism Today
Hogan’s legacy is anything but forgotten. Today, Chris Hemsworth has taken up the mantle as spokesperson for Australian tourism, promoting our great country as a myriad of wonderful places to visit even after you’ve seen the Sydney Opera House and done the Great Barrier Reef. There’s a brand new Dundee ad campaign for Tourism Australia that acknowledges the raw and rugged beauty of Australia but also promotes us as a sophisticated travel destination for outdoor, nature, fine dining and entertainment experiences.
Global phenomenon of Crocodile Dundee aside, the word ‘Dundee’ itself is steeped in history and laden with stories. It’s a Celtic name that combines two words: ‘fire’ and ‘fort’. There doesn’t appear to be any documented history as to why these two words were chosen. Random or not, the name ‘Dundee’ has become a wonderful tool for Australian tourism!
Located in Scotland, the city of Dundee ranked 5th last year in The Wall Street Journal’s ‘Worldwide Hot Destinations’ for 2018. Like Adelaide, it has two professional football clubs, Dundee FC and Dundee United, and is known as the city of jute, jam and journalism. In the 19th century, Dundee was a key player in the global jute industry, and being an important trading port, it’s only natural that the gathering and distribution of information occurred very easily and frequently. And jam? Read on for more on that!
Cake for Queens
This brings us to a particularly famous fruit cake, made famous by its association with a Scottish marmalade company, Keiller’s Marmalade. Keiller’s is believed to be the first commercial brand of marmalade in Great Britain and became iconic in the 18th and 19th centuries. In the late 19th century, Keiller’s Dundee Orange Marmalade was one of the first brands to be formally registered by the British Trademark Registry Act.
At the time (the 19th century – for those of you who are lost), the Scots were rather fond of that particularly famous fruit cake – the one made with currants, sultanas, almonds and citrus peel. Some say that Mary Queen of Scots didn’t like glacé cherries in her cakes, so this traditional Scottish fruit cake came about entirely for her.
The first company to mass produce this particularly famous fruit cake commercially was of course Keiller’s Marmalade. They named it ‘Dundee Cake’ and to this day, Dundee cake is sold throughout the UK. Even Queen Elizabeth II is reported to favour a slice of Dundee Cake at tea time. Interestingly, Dundee Cake really took off in British India and even though it was withdrawn from the market after 1980, it continues to this day to be supplied privately and sought after as a corporate Christmas gift throughout India.
Cake for the rest of us
For the rest of us and particularly all you Dundees in Australia, you can enjoy a slice of Ditters Gourmet Cake instead. We also recommend our buttery, delicious Mrs Ditters Fruit Cake, served with your favourite tea. You won’t see concentric circles of blanched almonds on top but the Mrs Ditters Fruit Cake is just as good, if not better!
Made in Australia by an Australian owned company called Ditters, Mrs Ditters Fruit Cake has been delighting Australian Dundees for the past 50 years. It’s made to Mrs Ditter’s original recipe year after year and has a few extra ingredients to the traditional Dundee Cake, just to make it extra special and fit for a Queen.
About the author
Esther Johnson is an Australian mother of three with Malaysian-Chinese heritage. She lives in Adelaide, South Australia, and is the owner of Ditters.