The Anzac Biscuit that Got Away

20 May

I’ve been home for a week now, and I’m still thinking about this one Anzac biscuit that I did not purchase and devour. Mistake?

Let me back up for a second and explain the Anzac biscuit (note to Americans: biscuit = cookie). This biscuit is in honor of Anzac Day, which is on April 25 and honors the anniversary of Australia and New Zealand’s first major military action on Gallipoli during World War I (Anzac = Australian and New Zealand Army Corps). As time passed and the globe experienced another World War, the day’s come to be an honor and memorial to those who’ve served in the Anzac armed forces, To an American, Anzac Day is basically Memorial Day on steroids. It’s a big deal. BIG deal. Everywhere you go, you’ll see billboards and public transit ads promoting memorial services and marches. I think it’s pretty cool, and although I’ve never been able to be in Australia or New Zealand for Anzac Day proper, I can appreciate how they honor those who’ve sacrificed for their country.

One of the traditions that go along with Anzac Day is the Anzac biscuit. This is a treat I found out about on an earlier trip to Australia, and now I know that if I’m there in April or May, I can find them. I’m sure that food manufacturers and bakeries have found a way to offer them all year round, but I’d like to think of them as something special, like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Egg, that you only get once a year. The Anzac biscuit is a non-chocolate, non-egg cookie that was made for soldiers in the war. Eggs were in short supply, so they used a golden syrup to hold this rolled oat, flour, butter and coconut mixture together. The result is a golden cookie that I find to be pretty tasty.

Since I got to Australia after Anzac Day, I wasn’t sure I’d find them (my Qantas flight–sometimes a good source for them–didn’t come through, so on the flight over I thought I was too late); however, it didn’t take too long after we got off the plane to find a cafe that had a jar of them. After spotting a manufactured package of them at the grocery store, I have a feeling that they’ve turned into something similar to the Reese’s (insert holiday-shaped peanut butter cup) phenomenon, where you can buy them year-round. I kind of hope I’m wrong about that, but Aussie reader, you can clue me in. Of course, soon thereafter, I embarked on my lamington challenge, which pretty much took up the share of stomach I was allowing for sweets, so I eyed most Anzac biscuits from afar, including the one I saw at the Bodalla Dairy Shed.

Once we picked up our Bateman’s Bay cabin and packed up the car, we headed south. First stop: Cheese. The Bodalla Dairy Shed produces small-batch cheese and yogurt and milk (and delicious-looking milkshakes, which I also passed on). The cheese is delicious–and they have a bunch of interesting varieties. As we were checking out, I saw the Anzac biscuits. Big ones. Delicious-looking ones. However, I’d stuffed myself with kangaroo breakfast burrito and had just tried every kind of cheese they sold. In the back of my head, I thought about the amount of weight I’ve gained over the last few months and how I really should work on getting that back off at some point. I didn’t really need a giant Anzac biscuit. Even though I’m on vacation. Even though I don’t see them at home. Even though it looked absolutely fantastic. And in a major display of willpower, I passed.

At our next cheese stop in Bega, which was more of a commercial outfit than Bodalla, I caved and got a sugar cookie with Smarties in it. It tasted pretty bad, and I didn’t even eat it all. So much for will power. The bitter, crumbly disappointment of this disaster made me wish I’d just gotten the Anzac biscuit and somehow not gulped it all down right away. It was big. I could’ve portioned it out. So much for plans and futile attempts at personal improvement. So much for what may have been the best Anzac biscuit I’d ever tasted. Or maybe not. Maybe I took a tiny step in the right direction. Maybe that Anzac biscuit was just a concrete disk. Maybe it was the better choice after all.

5 Responses to “The Anzac Biscuit that Got Away”

  1. Wendy May 20, 2015 at 1:03 pm #

    I remember ordering a milkshake in Australia and being horrified to find that it was, literally a MILK shake…no ice cream, just flavored milk. While I appreciate the literal interpretation, it was a huge disappointment when I thought I was getting ice cream. And the tour guide had talked this place up big-time, too…


  2. DavID January 16, 2016 at 7:17 am #

    You can buy the biscuits anytime, but the stores make big displays in April and suggest it is your patriotic duty to buy some, preferably in a tin with a picture of Simpson.

    From my 1960s childhood until about 1980, ANZAC day was at most slightly bigger than Armistice Day. Since then, ANZAC day has grown rapidly, with a rising populist jingoism I used to associate more with USA, Germany, Russia, Argentina, maybe France etc than Australia. Whereas Armistice Day, (anniversary of the armistice signed on 11th November, 1918), has diminished in the shadow of ANZAC day.

    The horrible thing about the armistice is the sprint to grab maximum territory before the ceasefire. So many deaths and injuries in those last few hours.


    • DavID November 10, 2016 at 7:23 pm #

      The ceremonial observance of Armistice Day is happening & on ABC TV in Melbourne, Australia as I write. After the minutes silence, controversial former Premier of Victoria & Founding Chairman of Beyond Blue Jeff Kennett spoke about the rate of suicide by returned combatants.

      Apparently the USA recognized Armistice Day under that name until 1954, when it was replaced by “Veterans Day.” A change that appalls some.


      • Jill November 11, 2016 at 1:48 pm #

        Thanks for sharing that article–it’s a really interesting POV, and it’s making me think.


  3. DavID January 16, 2016 at 7:20 am #

    I think ANZAC biscuits were designed to survive the ship journey across the equator to Eurasia without going stale or mouldy.


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