Why calling an Anzac biscuit a ‘cookie’ in un-Australian and could earn a fine

Starting off its life as an army biscuit sent by Australians to support their loved ones fighting in Europe and the Middle East during World War I, the Anzac biscuit is protected by strict rules.

The use of the American word “cookie” creeping into the language is officially frowned upon according to Federal Department of Veterans Affairs guidelines.

An ABC News presenter was even moved to apologise for calling them cookies on air on Saturday morning, saying her use of the word “is a great sin, and I repent”

The word Anzac, which stands for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps that served in World War I, is a protected word which cannot just be used by anyone.

Strict rules for use of the word, and specifically its use to describe the golden Anzac biscuit for more than 100 years are set out by the Federal Department of Veterans Affairs.

According to DVA guidelines, applications to produce Anzac biscuits commercially are “normally approved provided the product generally conforms to the traditional recipe and shape, and are referred to as ‘Anzac biscuits’ or ‘Anzac Slice’”.

“Referring to these products as ‘Anzac Cookies’ is generally not approved, due to the non-Australian overtones,” the guidelines state.

Importing any “Anzac” goods without the permission of the Veterans Affairs Minister is prohibited

The Department says on its website: “No person may use the word Anzac, or any word resembling it in connection with any trade, business, calling or profession.”

Nor can the word be used in connection with any entertainment, lottery, as the name of any private residence, boat, vehicle, or any building without the Minister’s authority.

The DVA lists penalties for the misuse of the word Anzac under the Crimes Act, including fines of up to $10,200 for a person, $51,000 for a body corporate and even 12 months in prison.

Anzac biscuits were sent to Diggers serving in WWI in comfort packages from home and their name is protected by law.Source:Geelong Advertiser


The army biscuit, also known as an “Anzac wafer” or “Anzac tile”, is essentially a long shelf-life, hard tack biscuit, eaten as a substitute for bread.

Unlike bread, the biscuits are very hard.

During World War I, people at home in Australia often sent comfort parcels to the Anzacs in Egypt, Gallipoli or Europe

Gifts of food from home supplemented the plain Australian Imperial Force (AIF) diet of tinned bully beef and hardtack.

Many of these packages included biscuits made from rolled oats, golden syrup and flour, which had high nutritional value and kept well while being transported overseas.

Some soldiers preferred to grind them up and eat as porridge.

The biscuits came to be known as Anzac biscuits and are still popular in Australia today.

Historian Allison Reynolds with Anzac biscuits. Picture: Tricia Watkinson

Historian Allison Reynolds with Anzac biscuits. Picture: Tricia WatkinsonSource:News Corp Australia

Anzac biscuit tin with photo of WWI Diggers. Picture: Richard Gosling

Anzac biscuit tin with photo of WWI Diggers. Picture: Richard GoslingSource:News Corp Australia


As published by the Department of Veterans Affairs


2 tablespoons butter or margarine

2 tablespoons golden syrup

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda dissolved in 2 tablespoons boiling water

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup desiccated coconut

3/4 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup plain flour


Heat oven to 160°C.

Melt butter (or margarine) and syrup.

Add dissolved bicarbonate of soda and water.

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl, add the liquid mixture and stir.

Place small balls of the mixture (about 1 teaspoon) onto a greased tray.

Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly brown.

Lift biscuits onto a cake cooling rack and wait for them to cool.



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