Café renames Afghan biscuit in light of racist history

By Will Trafford

A Christchurch café has rebranded an Aotearoa institution as part of an acknowledgement of what is believed to be racist origins.

Foundation Café in Ōtautahi told Stuff it had renamed its Afghan biscuit the “1908” in honour of the first Edmonds cookbook, originally published in 1908.

The café’s manager told Stuff “the world is changing continuously” and the rename was a “playful’’ way to engage with the changing political landscape.”

Some historians believe the Afghan biscuit's name could relate to the First Anglo-Afghan War. Others say it may refer to the colour and the walnut top being reminiscent of a traditional Afghan hat called a "Pakol."

Last year, after the Black Lives Matter movement began, Aotearoa-owned biscuit manufacturer Griffins renamed its biscuit ‘Milk Chocolate Roughs’.

The company used the slogan “Same bikkie. New name.”

University of Otago emeritus professor Helen Leach, who researches the history of many of the country’s recipes told Stuff It was natural for recipes and names to change over time.

“They are like any cultural object – they evolve,” she said.

Historian and food authority Alexa Johnston added "some weird names that come from prejudices from the past. It is whether you hold on to it or say you don’t want to think that way anymore.”

The café’s owner wouldn’t be drawn on the name's origins, simply saying, “It may make people feel less uncomfortable.”