Afghan (biscuit)

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Afghan (biscuit)
Afghan II MRD.jpg
Place of originNew Zealand
Main ingredientsflour, butter, sugar, cornflakes, cocoa powder, chocolate icing, walnut

An Afghan is a traditional New Zealand[1][2][3] biscuit made from flour, butter, cornflakes, sugar and cocoa powder, topped with chocolate icing and a half walnut. The recipe[4] has a high proportion of butter, and relatively low sugar, and no leavening (rising agent), giving it a soft, dense and rich texture, with crunchiness from the cornflakes, rather than from a high sugar content. The high butter content gives a soft melt-in-the-mouth texture, and the sweetness of the icing offsets the low sugar and the cocoa bitterness.[citation needed]


Despite its name, the biscuit's place of origin is thought to be New Zealand. A recipe in The Timaru Herald for "Afghans" (minus the icing and walnut) dates from 1934,[5] and an otherwise identical "Chocolate Cornflakes" biscuit recipe, complete with icing and walnut, was in the same publication of the previous year.[6]

There are many theories in circulation about the origin of the name "Afghan", ranging from the First Anglo-Afghan War to the biscuit's texture and colour being likened to the landscape of Afghanistan, [7][8] while one theory suggests it was named after the traditional Afghan hat, the pakol.[9][10][11] In the wake of the George Floyd protests, the manufacturer of the biscuit, Griffin's Foods announced in June 2020 that they would rename the product. In a statement issued by the company, it noted that the name of the biscuit was possibly a reference to the colour of "Afghan brown", which could possibly reference the dark skin of Afghan people. Although they acknowledged "there are other theories in circulation", this caused a debate over the name. The decision came amidst a wave of name changes in New Zealand over foodstuffs with names deemed racist or otherwise culturally offensive.[12] The biscuit was eventually renamed "Milk Chocolate Roughs" by Griffin's, which advertised the renaming with a new slogan: "Same bikkie. New name."[13] However, the name "Afghan" is still overwhelmingly the one used, and "rough" is not used by any other company nor in the public lexicon. The name change was considered unnecessary by some.[14]

Ingredients and recipe[edit]

According to the Edmonds Cookery Book, a batch of 24 afghans are made by combining 200 g (7 oz) butter, 115 g (4 oz) white sugar, 160 g (6 oz) all-purpose flour, 25 g (1 oz) cocoa powder, and 50 g (2 oz) cornflakes.[15][16] Tablespoon-sized balls of the mixture are formed, placed on a greased baking tray, and baked at 180 °C (360 °F) for around 15 minutes. Once the biscuts are cooled, they are iced with chocolate icing and the half-walnut placed on top.[15] The Edmonds recipe has changed over the years; for example, the 24th De Luxe (1987) edition of the cookbook only called for 75 g (3 oz) of sugar.[17]

Some variations on the recipe exist; crushed Weet-Bix may be substituted for cornflakes, for instance.[18][19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Timothy G. Roufs, ed. (2014). Sweet Treats around the World: An Encyclopedia of Food and Culture. ISBN 9781610692212. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  2. ^ "Afghan Biscuits, Isle of Capri Tomatoes and Broken Heart Gin". Asia Sentinel. 7 March 2014. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  3. ^ Tran, Mark (7 July 2016). "From bovver to budgie smugglers: the latest entries to the OED". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  4. ^ p.18, Edmonds Cookery Book, De Luxe Edition, Edmonds Food Industries Ltd. 1955
  5. ^ "TO-DAY'S RECIPE". Timaru Herald. Vol. 138, no. 19883. 21 August 1934. p. 12. Retrieved 2 June 2021.
  6. ^ "TO-DAY'S RECIPE". Timaru Herald. Vol. 137, no. 19590. 9 September 1933. p. 3. Retrieved 2 June 2021.
  7. ^ Bilton, Jan (16 June 2011). "Kiwiana bakes". Stuff. Archived from the original on 2019-02-16. Retrieved 6 September 2020.
  8. ^ "The Cherished Kiwi Cookie With a Mysterious Past". Atlas Obscura. Retrieved 2020-09-23.
  9. ^ "Café renames Afghan biscuit in light of racist history". Māori Television. Retrieved 2021-08-24.
  10. ^ "More NZ treats renamed over racist overtones". Otago Daily Times Online News. 2020-06-25. Retrieved 2020-09-23.
  11. ^ "New Zealand treats renamed over racist overtones". RNZ. 2020-06-24. Retrieved 2020-06-24.
  12. ^ "Pascall Eskimos lollies changes name to Kiwi-inspired 'Explorers' after racist undertones". 8 March 2021. Retrieved June 9, 2022.
  13. ^ "Griffin's: Our Biscuits". Archived from the original on 2020-10-16. Retrieved 2020-10-16.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  14. ^ "New Zealand treats renamed over racist overtones". RNZ. 2020-06-24. Retrieved 2022-04-14.
  15. ^ a b "Afghans". Retrieved 2021-03-22.
  16. ^ "Weights & Measures". Retrieved 2021-03-22.
  17. ^ Edmonds Cookery Book (24th De Luxe ed.). 1987. p. 16.
  18. ^ "Afghan Biscuit Recipe". Archived from the original on 2014-12-24. Retrieved 2021-06-02.
  19. ^ Gofton, Allyson. "Afghans". Archived from the original on 2013-02-10. Retrieved 2021-06-02.

External links[edit]