“Biscuits! Army Biscuits! Consider the hardness of them. Remember the cracking of your dental plate, the breaking of this tooth, the splintering of that.”
(From “Army biscuits” by Ormond Burton in “The ANZAC book”)
Does this bring to mind images of our troops at Gallipoli eating the Anzac biscuits we know and love today? Contrary to popular belief there were no Anzac biscuits at Gallipoli. The standard Army biscuit at this time was a rock-hard tooth breaker also called a ship’s biscuit.
Although it’s a myth that Anzac biscuits were sent and eaten by troops in Gallipoli, some evidence suggests a rolled oats based biscuit was sent to troops on the Western Front, although this is not widespread.
The majority of rolled oats biscuits were in fact sold and consumed at fetes, galas, parades and other public events at home, to raise funds for the war effort. This connection to the troops serving overseas led to them being referred to as “soldier’s biscuits”. Fundraising was coordinated by local Patriotic Funds, raising 6.5 million pounds for the New Zealand war effort.
The basic ingredients for a rolled oat biscuit were rolled oats, sugar, flour, butter with golden syrup, not eggs, used as a binding agent. This made them not only nutritious and full of energy but also long lasting.
After WWI, the most popular rolled oat biscuit had the name and association of Anzac applied to it and thus the legend of the Anzac biscuit began.