The Halal Snack Pack, commonly known as the HSP, is making headlines in unexpected places.
A HSP is, at one level, simply chips, halal kebab meat, cheese, and a trio of sauces in a styrofoam box. But it's also being applauded as a popular symbol of tolerance in a multicultural society.
While the dish had been up on the menu boards of kebab shops for years (and was the 2am food of choice for many a drunken partier), it garnered a lot of attention in late 2015 and gathered momentum in 2016, especially when Labor senator Sam Dastyari invited Pauline Hanson to enjoy a HSP. "Not going to happen," she told Dastyari. "Not interested. I don't believe in Halal certification."
Everyone had a take on the HSP:
Now, the HSP has gone international, with coverage in the US.
The Atlantic published an article earlier this week, titled "Big in Australia: Snacktivism", which outlined the box of meat's huge rise in popularity, as well its cultural significance in Australia.
While some Aussies will flinch at the US-based site referring to chips as 'French fries', the publishing of the article shows that not only is the delicious snack gaining momentum across the pond, so is its message of multiculturalism and tolerance.
Author Isabella Kwai writes, "Australia’s federal election campaign was heating up, and xenophobia was surging. Against this backdrop, the Halal Snack Pack Appreciation Society Facebook group began to function as a space for Muslims and non-Muslims to reaffirm their harmony, and to vent about their fears." The HSP, she writes, a "Styrofoam box filled with meat and french fries", became a symbol of liberal values and tolerance.
"The Halal Snack Pack Appreciation Society began to function as a space for Muslims and non-Muslims to reaffirm their harmony, and to vent about their fears."
VICE's food site Munchies in the US has also covered the HSP rise to fame. The story explains, "at a time when Australia's Muslim population is in the crosshairs of a resurgent far-right movement, the East-meets-West creation [the HSP] has become a defiant symbol of the country's cultural and ethnic diversity."
Luke Eagles, one of the creators of the Halal Snack Pack Appreciation Society, said that the group has a small - but important - international population.
Does that mean that the HSP exists outside of Australia? Eagles says it's not exceedingly common, but the group does receive reviews from countries other than Australia every now and then. "I wouldn't say we regularly get international recommendations and reviews. Occasionally though!"
He says he's seen the existence of Halal Snack Packs in Germany, Iceland, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, and more.
Eagles says he's thrilled with the group's progression from an Aussie cult phenomenon to having an international presence: "We kinda envisioned it shaping out to be that way, that's the direction we've been pushing it in from Day 1."