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  • Writer's pictureGethin Thomas

Biscuits - Ginger Nuts

Originally published on Photoblog by Gethin Thomas DECEMBER. 09, 2020

[126-365] 9th. December 2020- No it's not a kiss and tell about Prince Harry, just another episode in the continuing saga of biscuits.

We've already had the driest biscuit, now we have almost the hardest biscuit, I believe ship's biscuits are harder.

Gingernut- A hard biscuit, flavoured with powdered ginger, often dunked in tea.(Britain, slang) A redhead; a ginger-haired person. So it is official about Prince Harry then and I was just joking.

I am told these were my favourite biscuit when I was a toddler. Giving gingernuts to toddlers is tantamount to child abuse now, like expecting kids to climb jungle gyms without large mattresses underneath, or allowing them to walk to school or taste tap water. As a toddler however, I didn't chew on them but sucked them until I had gingery debris all over my face.

A gingersnap, ginger snap, ginger nut, or ginger biscuit is a globally popular biscuit flavoured with ginger. Ginger snaps are flavoured with powdered ginger and a variety of other spices, most commonly cinnamon, molasses and clove. There are many recipes. The brittle ginger nut style is a commercial version of the traditional fairings once made for market fairs now represented only by the Cornish fairing.

In the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand and most of the former British Empire, they are often called ginger nuts, because of their obvious ginger content and because the original biscuits in the 1840s were "as hard as a nut. (Wikipedia)

Ginger nuts are the most popular biscuit in New Zealand, normally attributed to its tough texture which can withstand dunking into liquid. Leading biscuit manufacturer Griffin's estimates 60 million of them are produced each year. There are only four million New Zealanders so that means they are really keen on them, at least this time they didn't call them something really stupid like Gingurili Nuts (See Garibaldi). They do have 26 million sheep though, not that it is relevant here, but I throw it in for free. You can ruminate on that little fact while imagining a sheep's life, which would be very short indeed without the ability to ruminate.

Scandinavian ginger nuts, also called ginger bread or "brunkage" in Danish (literally meaning "brown biscuits"), pepparkakor in Swedish, piparkakut in Finnish, piparkūkas in Latvian, piparkoogid in Estonian and pepperkaker in Norwegian (literally, pepper cookies). It's fairly typical for the Scandinavians to not agree on one simple word when they can all have one each.

I remember sitting in a bar in Reykjavik where a Norwegian customer was in discussion with the Icelandic server behind the counter both speaking fluent English. I was quite impressed until I found out from the server afterwards that if they didn't speak English they wouldn't be able to communicate at all, speaking such totally different languages. I don't know why this really shocked me but it did. So the Scandinavians have the English language to thank for their ability to understand each other. Maybe it is about time they all adopted the word gingernut.

Brunkage is a great word even if it does not conjure up ginger biscuits at all but sounds more like a result of drinking too much Baileys Irish Cream on a Friday night, a sort of Baileys Drunken Rampage, a Brunkage.

Ginger originated in Maritime Southeast Asia and was likely domesticated first by the Austronesian peoples. It was transported with them throughout the Indo-Pacific during the Austronesian expansion, reaching as far as Hawaii. Ginger is one of the first spices to have been exported from Asia, arriving in Europe with the spice trade, and was used by ancient Greeks and Romans. In 2018, world production of ginger was 2.8 million tonnes, led by India with 32% of the world total.

By the 11th century, ginger was well known in Britain and was even once recommended to King Henry VIII to treat the black plague. By the time of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (c1500) ginger plants were carried on ships to the New World colonies of the Caribbean where it could be easily grown and cultivated for the domestic market at a cheaper price. Its use in foodstuffs then became widespread, and was often imported in a preserved form for use in the cooking of meats, biscuits, cakes, and confectionary. It is said that Queen Elizabeth I invented the gingerbread man, small, sweet baked figurines given as gifts to Royal courtiers at Christmas. (

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