A Short History Of Anzac Biscuits
It is celebrated on the 25th April every year. Marking the anniversary of the first major military combat fought by Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZACS) on The Gallipoli peninsula is in Turkish Thrace (the European part of Turkey) during the First World War.
It is a time of reflection, remembrance and also commemoration of the indomitable Anzac spirit.
For some people the making and eating of Anzac style biscuits is a big tradition on Anzac Day. As big as going to the dawn service. Or laying of wreaths on the graves and memorials of loved ones passed.
A way to stay connected to those who fought so valiantly for our freedom, it continues the legacy of their bravery and honour. Particularly in a way which our children can easily relate to.
Traditionally Anzac biscuits has been made with a wide range of ingredients.
This includes rolled oats, flour, desiccated coconut, sugar, butter, golden syrup, baking soda and also boiling water.
The have also long been associated with the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC).
Anzac Biscuits History
It is not known exactly when Anzac biscuits were invented. Or specifically by whom.
But in a recent speech to the East Otago Federation of the Women’s Institutes, Professor Helen Leach, of the Archaeology Department of the University of Otago in New Zealand, posits that the first printed use of the name Anzac in a recipe can be found in a 1915 Dunedin advertisement in the 7th edition of St Andrew’s Cookery Book.
However this was for a cake which contained no mixing instructions.
According to Anzac Day.Org as World War 1 went on, the wives, mothers and girlfriends of the Australian soldiers became more concerned with the health value of the food being given to their loved ones.
As all food that was sent to the soldiers went by slow moving Merchant Navy vessels, with no refrigerated facilities, it was crucial that anything that was shipped to them had to remain edible after a two month period of travel.
To counter this a group of women came up with a solution – a biscuit that contained a great amount of health value that would also travel well across the world and remain edible for a very long time after it was made. Hence Anzac Biscuits were born.
Anzac Biscuits Recipe
Anzac Biscuits were based on a Scottish recipe that used rolled oats which were widely used in Scotland. Particularly in a heavy porridge to combat the extremely cold climate.
The biscuits most notably did not contain any eggs. (There was a general scarcity of them in World War 1 as many poultry farmers had been drafted to support the war effort).
Instead golden syrup and/or treacle was used. As this bounded the biscuits together. What it made was called ‘Soldiers’ Biscuits’.
As the war continued, many groups including the Country Women’s Association, as well as church groups, schools and other women’s groups spent a large bit of their time making ANZAC biscuits.
In a effort to maintain a their crispness over the course of the transit time the biscuits were packed in used tins, such as Billy Tea tins. These were airtight and thus ensured that no moisture in the air was present to soften the biscuit.
Almost 100 years after they were first invented Anzac biscuits are now sold across Australia and New Zealand. Mainly at supermarkets, retail stores and service stations.
Given their military connection they are often used as a fundraising item. Most notably for the Royal New Zealand Returned Services’ Association (RSA). As well as the Returned and Services League of Australia (RSL).
Also a British version of the Anzac biscuit, which is (infact Aussie made), supports the Royal British Legion. It is also sold in most major supermarkets in the UK.