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Childhood memories: apartheid biscuits

27 August 2011

Apartheid biscuits

When I was at school they used to give us what we called “apartheid biscuits” for afternoon tea.

They were about 3 inches in diameter, two biscuits with jam in between, and one of the biscuits was covered with icing, chocolate on one half, and vanilla on the other – hence the name we gave them.

I’ve never seen or tasted one since I left school, more than fifty years ago now, but we were discussing such things on an Internet forum on English usage, and the fact that Americans call biscuits “cookies”, so that our biscuits are their cookies, and our cookies are their cup cakes, and their biscuits are our scones.

In the course of the discussion I mentioned apartheid biscuits, and described them, and someone found a picture of them somewhere on the web. I very much doubt that the bakers called them by our schoolboy name, so if I went into a bakery I wouldn’t know what to ask for.


4 Comments leave one →
  1. 27 August 2011 10:03 am

    In the United States, there is a half-vanilla, half-chocolate confection which looks very similar to your photo above. They are very common, and you’d likely see them at any Starbucks counter.

    They are typically very large sugar cookies, perhaps six inches in diameter. A single cookie, and no jam. It had never occurred to me to call them ‘apartheid biscuits’- actually, my thought was that perhaps they are inspired by some kind of East Asian yin-yang idea.

  2. 27 August 2011 5:53 pm

    I don’t know why, but growing up in Florida the bakeries would call that a “Jewish Black and White” cookie. I’ve also seen them called Half Moon cookies some places. They are bakery items, and generally seem to be about six inches in diameter at least… which is enormous and so I always notice them.

  3. 27 August 2011 8:24 pm

    I also often see them here in the US and in Canada. Nobody calls them “apartheid biscuits” though. Not only the first but even the second word in this name wouldn’t be likely to make an appearance in the US. You can’t find a “biscuit” anywhere, just “cookies.” Since I dislike the word “cookie”, I stopped eating them altogether.

  4. Alan permalink
    28 August 2011 12:06 am

    They look like Neenish Tarts, allegedly (according to Wikipedia) invented in Australia. There are variant spellings. My American wife knows them as black-and-white cookies.

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