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ANZAC biscuits this year

April 8, 2013

This may seem random, but I reserve that right… Have you noticed this year’s ANZAC biscuit ‘limited edition’ tin? :

ANZAC 2013 biscuit tin

I can’t help being interested in the fact that our connection, as New Zealanders, with ANZAC Day and all it represents must be so strong that appropriate packaging for a biscuit is a picture of a wounded man and his comrades. I think of trenches, lice, dysentery, gangrene… I think of shell shock and missing limbs when I think of wounded WWI soldiers… ok so there is also bravery and heroism in the helping of fallen comrades, but personally, I think of these things – bodily secretions and the like – and I am struck by what is clearly a marketing decision based on how we feel about NZ at war – and particularly at World War I… so yeah…

Food and violence (two of my interests) in one neat package. Interesting!

Also interesting is the spiel on the back of the tin, which reads:

The ANZAC Biscuit Story

The ANZAC biscuit, as it is known today, was a welcome addition to the basic rations, which were issued to our soldiers during the Gallipoli Campaign in 1915. It was the mothers, wives and sweethearts at home who baked these treats for the soldiers overseas, as well as for sale to raise funds for the war effort.

Today, ANZAC biscuits are still a part of the basic rations of the New Zealand Defence Force as well as a Kiwi favourite.

These biscuits are a tangible link to our Anzac heritage.”

War and the young

Actually, (and here is the tenuous link to my ostensible YA work here…) I also couldn’t help noticing the war theme in this years NZ Post Children’s Book Awards (which was noted on the Booksellers website a few days ago). Obviously, I’m interested in how war is represented – and how violence is used in stories for the young… I’m also interested in the importance of WWI to NZ identity… so I’m generally interested in how WWI is being packaged for NZers, and especially young NZers, on the eve of the centenary…. I don’t have anything critical to say, for now, except that this tin is noteworthy.

The recent blurb about the finalists of this year’s awards mentioned above states:

My Brothers War“War was a dominant theme among this year’s entries – a year before the centenary of the start of the First World War.

[Judge] Bernard [Beckett] said: “As judges, we were pleased to see coverage given to conflicts less likely to be known to young readers such as The Boer War or the conflict in Malaysia. Prominence was also given to the bravery of those who resisted armed conflict, both in World War One and at Parihaka – that strikes us as tremendously important.””

Interestingly, they also noted that the judges had the following concerns about this year’s submissions:

“A large number of books were crying out for a more considered editing or design process:  books with clear potential that needed only another careful draft; delightful children’s stories let down by the illustrations or design layout. To see such possibilities unrealised was a clear frustration for us.”

“We were also surprised to see how few strong female characters there were in these pages. Young girls are in danger of seeing themselves once again as serving only decorative roles in stories, and we hope this is more a blip than the beginning of a retrograde trend.”

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