The great gingernut biscuit mystery

When I moved from Queensland down to Canberra many years ago, I had quite a shock. No, it wasn't the freezing cold temperature, or the hoards of public servants. It was the Gingernut biscuits. Arnotts Gingernut biscuits.

These little brown discs of yumminess are my all time favorite biscuits (if you leave them out a couple of days they go chewy and lovely). HOWEVER. On my arrival to Canberra, having that first hot cuppa tea with said biscuits I almost packed my bags and flew home again. OK, perhaps I am exaggerating a little, but it was a rude shock to find the gingernuts in the ACT (and NSW) were hard little buggers that almost broke my front teeth first bite.

I should add here that the gingernuts in Queensland are lovely thin, dark biscuits with a hint of spiciness and a complex flavour. These impostors were not my beloved gingernuts. At first I thought Arnotts had just changed the recipe, until I realised, on a visit back north, the biscuits in Queensland were still the same.

I dealt with this as best as I knew how - having my boyfriend at the time send me packs of Queensland gingernuts in the mail when I had run out. I moved to Victoria a couple of years later. And almost fell off my chair when I realised the gingernuts in Victoria were different again. What the hell?

Years later, bored at work one day, I emailed Arnotts with all the important philosophical questions: why are your gingernut biscuits having an identity crisis? I was pretty surprised when they actually emailed me back with a big spiel around why they were different from state to state:

"We used to have different bakeries in different states, each making a Ginger Nut biscuit that the locals loved. When Arnott's became a national company we looked at the possibility of selling one Ginger Nut nationally. But each time we tested it, people told us that they preferred their homegrown variety. (translate as: sales dramatically dropped)

So now in Queensland, Ginger Nuts are thin and sweet, with a dark colour. In New South Wales they are small, thick and hard, with a light colour. In Victoria and Tasmania, they are bigger, softer and sweeter. While in South and Western Australia, the biscuits look similar to their Victorian cousins, but taste sweeter."

I don't think they will listen to my call to make all gingernuts the same as Queensland. I will just have to keep importing them from the Sunshine state. They know what they are doing up there...


  1. Oh it's about time someone put the spot-light on this travesty! Good on you sister-o-mine. Gingernuts were also my childhood-fave, but now I can't eat them (NSW variety) without having to dunk them in scalding tea to soften them first. Oh I sound like my Grandma.... Must be more flouride in the water supply in this state - people must have stronger teeth to manage these babies. I vote QLD gingernuts. The best by far...

  2. I'm so intrigued by this travesty. Such an interesting example of market research. If you need me to hook you up - just let me know.
    Yaaaay for Qld.

  3. Amazing story.

    As a keen Ginger Buiscuit enthusiast i have taken to making my own, at pressent I have found this recipe to be extremely gooey on the inside and crunchy on the outside. Make them BIG!
    I'm going to experiment again soon so I'll let you know if I find the perfect recipe.

    Hope you have enough to keep you going.

  4. wow that is nuts! hmmm now i want to sample them all

  5. As "Yanks" who have visted (and driven coast-tocoast both east-to-west and south-to-north both ways) I fear that we would be addicted to the NSW veriaty, if we could get them here in New York! On our first vist we actually called Arnott's info number to find out why the bickies we loved in NSW had deteriorated when we got into other parts. So we heard the four bakeries into one story back in 2000.

    Just back from 6 weeks there and only have one and a half packages left. Oh me, oh my!

  6. I have travelled around this land and have constantly suffered this dilemma - only I have to say that I am originally a Sydneysider and our beloved teeth breakers are my ginger nut of choice. From the time I went to boarding school in Victoria to living 6 years in Darwin and another 2 year stint in Victoria, I have been having care packages of ginger nuts posted to me. Now I live in Queensland and have just had my first shipment arrive from NSW. All I can cay is thank goodness Arnotts did not go with a national variety as I fear my favourites would become extinct.

  7. a late arrival to this blog but as a gingernut fan of decades i am moved to comment. It is like anything i guess in that what you grow up with that is the norm. After 40 years of gingernuts (the hard true version) i move overseas and discover that the market here in PNG is supplied by mostly queensland suppliers and i end up with this woosy little sooky thing that is more a ginger "snap" than a ginger "nut". I was shocked to say the least. I thought they must be some poor imitation from Asia. Now i know.

  8. I am a very late commenter on your post having found it when searching for Gingernut biscuits Arnott’s different states. I'd been looking for something else on the Arnott’s website when I noticed they had different Gingernut bikkies for different states. What the!

    Having never actually intellectually analysed the differences, I just knew that not all Gingernuts were the same. I thought they kept on playing with the recipe, or there was something different with the baking process that day but now I know! Thank you for this mine of info about the beloved ginger biscuit and I love your blog. I’ve emailed the link to home so I can have a better look in my own not the boss's time.

    For the record I am a Queensland girl by both breeding and Gingernut preference.

  9. Omg, I just found yr blog. I thought I was imagining the differences between the states and the biscuits! As a fellow qld'er I miss them too. And remember golliwogs.... Ah only we could have racist biscuits!

  10. AGHH I thought I was going crazy!! I moved to QLD and was so disappointed when my ginger nut sank to the bottom of my cup of tea after just one dip!
    I tried to convince people, but no one believed me except my mumma, who still sends them up, 7 years on.
    Thanks for solving this mystery...however I cannot believe anyone would prefer the QLD type over the yummy teeth chipping NSW variety.

  11. I'm in Qld, but recently I've only been able to get what appears to be the NSW jawbreakers. It makes me sad

  12. The easiest way to tell the difference, is the barcode on the packet. The NSW style, ends in 21 , and the Queensland biscuit ( superior in my opinion ) ends in 45. Just relate it to postcodes. The photo of the biscuit is also different on the packet, with the Q'ld one being almost a chocolate colour. Recently I purchased a packet at IGA in Crows Nest Q'ld, and opened them as I was travelling back to NSW for work, only to find that I had the extreme misfortune to be the owner of a packet of NSW gingernuts, which appears to be a mix of sawdust, cement powder, and has ginger as a distant relative. I considered crashing into a tree to dull the pain . Needless to say, a strongly worded letter was sent to the shop, as I have been told that each States biscuits, cannot be sold anywhere else.

  13. The QLD variety have a gutsy colour and bite, just like a proper gingernut ought to be.

  14. I moved from Newcastle/Port Stephens to Albury and have discovered the difference...being on the border the Vic/Tas ones are sold here. I used to like the feeling all my teeth would shatter; but I still love the ginger goodness. Thanks for the explanation.