The Rise Of The Mighty HSP
** Well spotted! If you have realised this picture does not show an HSP, you are:
1) a clear Halal Snack Pack aficionado. THANK YOU for checking our article out! We applaud your enthusiasm to read about HSPs in your time off from eating HSPs. Since we ourselves write about HSPs in our time off from eating them, we are excited to have met kindred souls such as yourselves.
2) are new to the Halal Snack Pack but have absorbed the article well enough to spot this potential need to call for a harambulance. Thank you for taking the time to read our work!
“Salams brother. A mixed HSP please, with the holy trinity of sauces, and extra cheese. Make it large, with an Uludag for the drink.”
If you haven’t placed an order like this at a kebab shop recently and consider yourself a connoisseur of fine food and drink, you might need to schedule a visit to your nearest establishment quick-smart. The ‘halal snack pack', or HSP, burst onto the Melbourne food landscape in 2016 and has since continued its ascent towards becoming a fixture on social media. The Halal Snack Pack Appreciation Society was created by five HSP aficionados in Dec 2015 and now has over 160,000 members contributing reviews of halal snack packs on a daily basis. The reviews are honest, detailed and are open to critique by the page’s direct but very sincere members, who are all united in their quest for the best snack pack in existence. In fact, here is my review for an HSP that I wrote up in July:
Little Bad Wolf Review:
Celebrated the last few days of Ramadan by heading to Little Bad Wolf with the crew (some of us live in the Northern suburbs so it was a dedicated group that arrived). The hospitality, service and the food were all amazing.
Signage: 8/10. The sign is great but had to take a point off for no neon signage. Clear halal sign, though.
Greeting: 10/10 Very warm and welcoming
Meat: 10/10 Best meat I'll probably have - the lamb was beautiful.
Cheese: 10/10 Slices of cheese rather than shredded stuff. Added to the texture.
Sauces: 10/10 On point in term of quantity, distribution and presentation.
Chips: 10/10 Crunchy and just the right amount.
Overall: Half of us gave it a 9/10 and the other half gave it a 10/10, so a solid 9.5/10 would be fair.
For those unfamiliar with the meteoric rise of the HSP, it is a Styrofoam box containing a hearty meal of chips, cheese, halal certified kebab meat, and the “holy trinity” of sauces: chilli, garlic and barbeque, strictly in that order. Other terms being bandied about on the Facebook page in the form of comments and memes are:
- “Salam Alaikum” – Peace be upon you – commonly used as a greeting by kebab joint owners to welcome the approaching customer.
- “Astaghfirullah” – I seek forgiveness from Allah – commonly used when a layperson makes a grievous mistake, such as asking for tomato sauce on the HSP.
- “MashaAllah” – An expression of appreciation – commonly used when a particularly satisfying photo and/or review is uploaded.
- “Haram” – Any object or action prohibited in Islam – commonly used when a sauce from the holy trinity is added or subtracted, or worse, replaced entirely by tomato sauce.
- “Haram dingo” – A term used to denote someone who messes with the ideal, patented composition of an HSP e.g. replacing meat with falafels.
- The “harambulance” – An imaginary emergency vehicle used for the timely dispatch of the aforementioned “haram dingo”. You know you’ve stuffed it if the “harambulance” is called.
- "Uludag Gazoz" - A soft drink of Turkish origin (available in the lemon or orange flavour).
The fascinating feat that the HSP has achieved is the unification of multiple ethnic groups that grace the Facebook page. It is common to see someone whose Facebook profile photo features the Australian flag proudly displayed, casually using the terms “halal” and greeting members with “Salam Brother/Sister”. This is no small achievement especially in light of the skewed socio-political commentary around migrants, refugees and Muslims. There are apps being developed which locate the nearest HSP shop, and others where users review HSP’s and have scuffles over which local joint is the best. Kebab shop owners have understandably capitalised on this by creating Facebook accounts and contributing to discussions, subtly sliding in deals and discounts which help cement their fan base.
The wide range of people who appreciate the humble HSP is to be marvelled at. I visited one celebrated HSP joint last week with a friend, and we were astounded at the age range and ethnic diversity of the customers who were lined outside the shop. The neon “halal” sign was proudly displayed and acknowledged by those who had trekked down from the other side of Victoria to sample the delights of this particular kebab shop. The camaraderie was genuine, instantaneous and heart-warming. We even had the “harambulance” called as a joke when one particular customer emerged with a loaded HSP mountain, except with tabouli, falafels and what was clearly just garlic sauce.
Trivial though it may seem, I truly recognised Melbourne for the cultural melting pot that it is becoming. It was also evident that regardless of the debate around halal food products, many Australians clearly had no issue with eating at a halal venue and also spreading the word about it.
As for me, my pilgrimage to locate the best HSP joint in Victoria continues. There will be more hits, and some misses, but that is the price my bowels will pay for this greater good that will serve the human race. Until I discover the “one true HSP to rule them all”, the long drives across the state and the regular visits to the gym will have to continue – and I’m not complaining.