Ask anyone from Sydney or Melbourne if they’ve ever tried a slice of “fritz” and they’ll give you a puzzled look. Ask a South Australian, however, and their face will light up with memories of childhood trips to the deli and smiling meat behind the glass.
Smiley fritz, the cheeriest lunch meat you’re likely to come across, is a thinly sliced and smooth-textured sausage commonly found in supermarket delicatessens and local butcher shops across South Australia. Each slice of the meat appears to have a tidy mop of dark hair, two big eyes, and cheeky grin. For South Aussie kids, no trip for groceries is complete without receiving a complimentary slice to eat on the spot or wear as a mask.
Fritz is unique to South Australia, thanks to the influence of German immigrants in the greater Adelaide region. Though the sausage’s origins are uncertain, local legend suggests it began with a butcher by the name of Fritz who lived in the city of Adelaide or the nearby town of Lobethal in the 1880s. The sausage is also known by the not-so-flattering full name of “bung fritz.” Why? Because the sausage uses a sheep’s appendix as the casing that houses the lightly smoked mince trimmings of pork, lamb, beef, or, in rare cases, kangaroo.
The sausage has been a school-lunch staple for generations, even before it gained its smile. Traditionally, Australians eat fritz as a hearty snack, in a sandwich with tomato sauce, or fried. While visitors and out-of-state parents may balk at the idea of freely distributed, smiling meat, Smiley fritz remains an enduring state icon, along with frog cakes, Farmers Union Iced Coffee, and pie floaters. A good slice of Fritz is so important that there’s even a South Australian Bung Fritz Appreciation Society.
Need to Know
You can find the smiling meat in delis and butcher shops throughout South Australia, particularly in the area surrounding Adelaide.