When Tommy Carter OAM first approached well-known biscuit company, Guests, to ask what their showbag was called he was horrified with the response. Blandly titled ‘Guests’, Tommy declared “you have to promote the product; not the company.”
In 1963 he did exactly that with the invention of enduringly popular Bertie Beetle showbags. In an attempt to knock its direct competitor Cadbury’s Freddo Frog off its perch, Tommy proposed an alternative to his employer, confectionary company Hoadleys. What about a chocolate beetle with a honeycomb filling? His boss enthusiastically agreed, pleased the crumbs left over from making Violet Crumbles would no longer go to waste. The formerly named ‘Hoadleys’ showbag was retired and Bertie Beetle was born.
A clever marketer, Tommy took a creative approach to cementing Bertie Beetle as one of the most popular showbags at Melbourne Royal Show to this day. Dressing up in costume, a wizard on a throne; it was all in a day’s work at the show for Tommy.
His familiar voice could often be heard promoting the Royal Melbourne Show on his radio program on 97.7FM. Tommy recorded interviews with people all over the showgrounds the day before the show, sometimes even inventing noises. “I’d say, “I’m just walking past the woodchop, why don’t you come out and have a look at it?,” Tommy recalled.
Tommy was awarded the President’s Medal in 1996 for his services to the show. He was awarded an Order of Australia medal, endless community service commendations, and became the first inductee into the Hall of Fame at 97.7FM.
Tommy passed away on 2 April, 2022 at the age of 94. His legacy lives on in the joy and nostalgia felt by all who tuck into a show time Bertie Beetle delight today.