Why It’s Illegal to Call This a Cookie


– This is Anzac biscuit. They’re sometimes chewy,
they’re sometimes crunchy, but what it can never be
legally is called a cookie. Now this isn’t about some archaic law that’s still on the books,
but it’s about something that legal scholars have
called the most protected word in the world. It’s a story about how for over a century, and to this very day,
a government department is regulating the name and
recipe of this humble biscuit. (funky music) Firstly, and particularly
for our American friends, let’s talk about language. Here in Australia, we
spell color like this, baseball like this, but the
word relevant to ask is biscuit. So this is what a biscuit
looks like in the U.S.A. and this is what a biscuit
looks like here in Australia. Now the other part of the name Anzac. This dates back to World War I, when Australians fought
alongside New Zealanders in the Gallipoli campaign, and they were called the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. This was a source of national
pride, the very first time that this new nation had sent
troops as a national entity. And while the history’s a
bit unclear, the origins of Anzac biscuits goes back to this time, and it’s said that with
their robust ingredients, they would survive a
journey from Australia to the troops overseas. And the phrase Anzac came into common use and people started to
use it in their business for hats, for tea rooms,
for boots, and for soaps. Members of the community thought that it shouldn’t be used
like this in business and the Australian government agreed. In 1916, the Australian government
put the first restriction on the word Anzac, meaning
you couldn’t use it for a business name or a trademark, but also for personal use, like your home or your boat or your vehicle. Now it was 1916 when James
Armstrong was convicted for breaking these laws with
his Anzac Art Photo Enlargement and this started a century of
restrictions and regulations, and here’s how the rules work. To use the word Anzac,
you have to apply for and get permission from the
Department of Veteran Affairs, and this is how the
process normally works. You come up with your
idea, you request it, and they say no. In 1934, Australia’s beloved aviator Charles Kingsford Smith,
an absolute badass who was the first person
to do a transpacific flight from the U.S.A. to Australia
asked the Australian government for permission to call his plane Anzac. Now he fought in the Gallipoli
campaign, he was an Anzac, and what did the Australian
government say, no. Australian government’s been
pretty heavy-handed about this, but there are some personal
areas where it’s okay. You can name your pet Anzac and you’re allowed to call
your kid Anzac, as well, but if they grow up and
wanna name a business after themselves, then that’s banned. Now back to our biscuits. For their first few decades of life, they weren’t really sold. They were something
you would make at home. But when people did wanna sell them, what would they call them,
they’re called Anzac biscuits, and here’s what the regulations say. “Application for Anzac
Biscuits are normally approved “and are referred to as Anzac
Biscuits or Anzac Slice,” and here’s the key,
“Referring to these products “as Anzac cookies is
generally not approved due “to the non-Australian overtones.” That’s right, it’s un-Australian
to call these a cookie and prohibited by law
to the tune of $10,200 for an individual, $51,000 for a company, and up to 12 months’ jail. And the Department of Veteran
Affairs will only give it their tick of approval if you comply with the original recipe. That is, if you add
chocolate chips to these, that is against the law. So you might be thinking surely an Australian government
department isn’t really regulating the recipe of biscuits,
well, you might be surprised. Now the spirit of this
law is to protect the tone of the word Anzac and to
stop this kind of thing, when lads’ mag Zoo Weekly tried to have a special Anzac centenary edition and had to pull it due to public outcry and not getting approval. In 2008, it was found out that Subway wasn’t using
traditional ingredients and they were ordered
to change their recipe. Now they’ve had a lot worse
scandals than this one, but when they worked out
it wasn’t cost effective, they stopped selling the biscuits. Ice cream makers Gelato
Messina was required to change their name from
Anzac Bikkie ice cream to Anzac Biscuit ice cream. In 2017, a Reddit post
described this as un-Australian, a vegan, cauliflower,
shortbread Anzac cookie, and this got mainstream news. Now the company making it
had no idea about this law and quickly withdrew the product. And across the ditch, New
Zealand have passed similar laws. Where Anzac biscuits are
allowed, Anzac cookies are not. So you might be thinking, “Yeah, “but I’m not in Australia or New Zealand, “so these laws don’t apply to me. “I’m gonna start my own
Anzac cookie company “or Anzac (speaks foreign languages).” Sounds good, but it might not be so easy. In 2003, Australia and New
Zealand made a submission to the World Intellectual
Property Organization to protect the word
Anzac under Article 6ter, which restricts the use of
national symbols and emblems, and this was accepted,
so all 164 signatories of the WIPO are now
required to restrict its use and ban any trademarks
featuring the word Anzac. And that’s the story
about how Anzac became one of the world’s most protected words and why wherever you
travel, you’ll probably not see this called a cookie, so I say eat up and enjoy the history and tradition of one of Australia’s iconic foods because when it comes to a recipe and the name, the Australian
government is one tough cookie. Thanks for watching, I’m Julian O’Shea and I make videos about
weird and wonderful topics, so hit Subscribe if you
wanna see more of them. I’d love to give a
shout-out to Catherine Bond, who literally wrote the book on this topic and for taking the time to have a chat about the legal
status of Anzac biscuits. A link for the book and the
government-approved recipe for Anzac biscuits will be in
the description, thank you.

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