Aussies erupt over tiny detail on classic Anzac treat: 'Cultural tragedy'

A treat sold at a Melbourne primary school on Sunday has caused outrage on social media, with claims the wording used on the Anzac biscuit is incorrect — but it's not necessarily the case.

The Aussie classic was available to purchase at a cake stall held at Kensington Primary School in Melbourne, but rather than being labelled as a "biscuit" the packaging read "Anzac Cookie".

School principal Bridget McLaughlin told Yahoo News Australia the treats were prepared and sold by "a wonderful group of parents" who also labelled the treats. A photo showing the "Anzac Cookie" was shared on social media where a debate unfolded.

In Australia, the Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA) has strict regulations around the use of the word Anzac, including the term "Anzac Biscuits" and according to the guidelines, "biscuits must not substantially deviate from the generally accepted recipe and shape, and must be referred to as 'Anzac Biscuits' or 'Anzac Slice' (not ‘Anzac Cookies’)."

A packet of homemade Anzac biscuits with a label reading, 'Anzac cookies'
The Anzac biscuits were being sold at a school fair in Melbourne - but were being called Anzac Cookies, rather than biscuits. Source: Reddit

Social media slams Anzac biscuit 'tragedy'

"Anzac Cookies… and the world burns!" the Reddit caption read, alongside a photo of the biscuit. "As a legal requirement it can be a biscuit or slice. Nothing else," they added in the comments, and others agreed.

"It's illegal to call them Anzac Cookies," one pointed out.

"Can confirm. Work at a place that makes cookies, ANZAC is the only product specifically called a biscuit," echoed another. Meanwhile, the choice of wording was dubbed a "f***in' cultural tragedy" by one who highlighted the biscuits' World War I beginnings.

The sweet treats were once called Soldiers' Biscuits and were made for troops by their wives and girlfriends. It's believed the women were concerned about the food their men were eating, so they came up with an alternative. The ingredients used to make the biscuits were said not to spoil, making them suitable for travel during the war — and the original recipe remains in tact today and is protected by the guidelines.

Is the term Anzac Cookie really illegal?

The DVA's website states "referring to these products as ‘Anzac Cookies’ is generally not approved, due to the non-Australian overtones". And while there is truth to this, it's a little more complex.

Anzac biscuits cool on a tray.
Anzac biscuits are an Aussie staple. Source: Getty

A Department of Veterans’ Affairs spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia the DVA's guidelines refer to commercial use of the food item, and does not consider Anzac biscuits sold at a school fair to be a breach of regulations.

"Commercial" use refers to items being sold in a cafe, supermarket or through a business. But Australians are encouraged to "familiarise themselves with the appropriate use of the word Anzac" the spokesperson said.

When approached by Yahoo, Ms McLaughlin said the school values "respect" and said there was no malice when it came to labelling the biscuits. There appears to be some confusion over the correct terminology, she said, so it's a "learning opportunity" for the wider community.

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