Arnott’s bakes four different ginger nuts to suit the tastes of people in each state and territory. (ABC Radio Canberra: Penny Travers)
If you’re a fan of the ginger nut, you may have noticed something odd — the iconic Aussie biscuit differs depending on which state or territory you’re in.
From colour, texture and taste to packet size and labelling, ginger nuts vary greatly across the border.
“We make four different ones to suit the tastes of people in different states,” Nicky Thomson from Arnott’s told ABC Radio Canberra’s Lish Fejer.
Why four different types of the same biscuit?
The recipes for the four varieties date back to 1906 and were originally baked by different biscuit companies across the country.
In the 1960s, a series of amalgamations resulted in those different companies coming under the Arnott’s banner.
“When we consolidated our baking operations to New South Wales we tried to put the [original Arnott’s] NSW ginger nut out nationally,” Ms Thomson said.
“But we got told by people in different states, who had been enjoying ginger nuts made by different biscuit companies, that they preferred the one they were used to.”
So the regional varieties have been maintained, despite all now being baked in the same facility in Huntingwood in New South Wales.
“The ingredients list are actually really similar between the four different varieties; what changes is how long we bake them for and how much of each ingredient goes into different bakes,” Ms Thomson said.
A ginger nut state of origin
The four ginger nuts are clearly different in colour, size and texture — even the calorie content varies. (ABC Radio Canberra: Penny Travers)
When laid out on a plate, each of the ginger nuts is noticeably different in size, colour and texture.
Each packet is also a different size, despite all weighing 250 grams.
When it comes to taste, well that’s certainly objective.
According to Ms Thomson, the NSW/ACT ginger nut is the thickest and the hardest and “the best for dunking in a cup of tea”.
The Queensland recipe is “thin, sweet and darker in colour — more like a gingerbread-style biscuit.”
In Victoria and Tasmania, ginger nuts are bigger, softer and sweeter, and “closest to traditional ginger nuts from overseas”.
The South Australian/West Australian/Northern Territory version looks similar to its Victorian counterpart but is sweeter.
What have you done to the ginger nut?
And it seems those interstate variances haven’t gone unnoticed.
“We often get phone calls and contact from people saying, ‘What have you done to the ginger nut? You’ve changed them and we’re not happy about it’,” Ms Thomson said.
“It’s because they’ve either moved interstate or they’ve bought a pack while they were travelling interstate.
“Sometimes a box of NSW ginger nuts accidently gets delivered to a shop in Queensland, and then we have quite a few people [contact us].”
Ms Thomson said while small variances between bakes and batches were inevitable, Arnott’s had learnt to keep changes to a minimum.
“Biscuits are linked to moments from childhood and remind people of their parents or grandparents or best friends, so there’s that nostalgia factor.
“People don’t like change, but we’ve learnt in particular they don’t like their biscuits to change.”