Potential fines for chocolate chips in Anzac biscuits says Veterans' Affairs

Zero Gradi' s Anzac biscuit gelato sandwich.
Zero Gradi' s Anzac biscuit gelato sandwich.  Photo: Eddie Jim

A delicious combination of coconut, rolled oats and golden syrup makes the Anzac biscuit a perennial favourite of Australian cake stalls. With consumption of the treat set to peak on Anzac Day this Thursday, the Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA) is requesting individuals and organisations selling the biscuit to respect its traditional recipe.

"The biscuits must be called 'Anzac biscuits' not 'Anzac cookies' or any other term," said a spokesperson for Veterans' Affairs.

The iconic Anzac biscuit.
The iconic Anzac biscuit.  Photo: Supplied

"There may be some substitution of ingredients for people who are gluten or lactose intolerant," the spokesperson said, but "definitely no addition of new ingredients that alter the traditional biscuit and its taste such as egg, chocolate chips or almonds".

A permit must be issued from Veterans' Affairs to sell products using the word "Anzac". Under the Crimes Act 1914, a penalty of up to $10,200 for an individual and $51,000 for a body corporate may be imposed for "Anzac" misuse.

"Permits for Anzac biscuits are generally quickly approved as long as other regulations are met," the DVA spokesperson said.

Zero Gradi' s Anzac biscuit gelato sandwich.
Zero Gradi' s Anzac biscuit gelato sandwich. Photo: Eddie Jim

Gelato Messina was asked by Veterans' Affairs to change the name of its "Anzac Bikkie" gelato to "Anzac Biscuit", a spokeswoman for the national dessert chain said. The special edition flavour featuring the chewy biscuit folded through golden syrup and coconut gelato will be released on Anzac Day in all Messina stores for one week.

At Melbourne's Zero Gradi gelateria, store owner Johnny Di Francesco has created an Anzac biscuit-flavoured gelato sandwich to be sold exclusively on April 25 and coated with freeze-dried raspberry or chocolate.

The Brunswick business is bypassing Veterans' Affairs' approval process by marketing the dessert as an "Anzac Day Gelato Sandwich".


"Certain uses of 'Anzac' don't require approval, such as when it is for personal use only, like naming a pet, or when the word is used in relation to 'Anzac Day'," said the Veterans' Affairs  spokesperson.

$1 from each Zero Gradi Anzac Day gelato sandwich sold will be donated to Anzac Appeal.

"At $5 each, we're not making any money on them once you factor in labour costs, but we're Australians - we have to support the veterans," said Mr Di Francesco.

Gelato Messina's Anzac biscuit gelato.
Gelato Messina's Anzac biscuit gelato. Photo: Supplied

Anzac biscuits were originally known as "wafers" or "tiles" and sent as rations to troops on the frontline in World War I. Having to withstand a long time in transportation, they were much harder than Anzac biscuits today.

"Even within the scope of the traditional Anzac biscuit, there is a high degree of variation within the recipes," said the Veterans' Affairs spokesperson. "There are a number of traditional recipes which can be found on the Australian War Memorial website."

Subway created a version of the Anzac biscuit for Austalian stores in 2008. The sandwich chain used a US-made cookie dough and had to remove the biscuit at Veterans' Affairs' request when it could not cost-effectively replicate a traditional recipe. It is understood no financial penalty was issued.

"While it would not be appropriate to comment on individual cases, in recent times there has been no need to issue penalties," said the Veterans' Affairs spokesperson.

"When a potential misuse of the term is identified, DVA works with the business or organisation to attempt to find alternative wording which does not breach the regulations. In most cases organisations are willing to work with DVA to protect the integrity and significance of the term."

Potential misuse of the word "Anzac" can be identified to Veterans' Affairs by emailing usewordanzac@dva.gov.au.