Shirley Harring

writer, farmer advocate, madwoman

When I was growing up, we didn’t have cookies

October 23, 2012

When I was growing up, we didn’t have cookies.
We had biscuits.

When I was growing up, we didn’t have brownies.
We had chocolate slice.

Blondies were people with fair hair. I knew a few. I’d sit with them and chat whilst we ate warm, freshly baked slice made with molasses or brown sugar.

Cup cakes were for birthday parties or afternoon tea. They often had wings or simple icing with 100’s and 1000’s on top. They were small, delicate and cute, not giant supersized cakes. (Have you tried to buy a traditional cupcake tray lately??)


Muffins were flatish bread discs that were split and toasted for breakfast unless we were having porridge (never oats) or toast with peanut paste, or jam. No peanut butter, no jelly- unless it was with icecream and that was for sweets. Marge was a spread for bread, not an animated character.

There were two types of tea – one you drank, one you ate – and one type of coffee. It was called coffee.

Kids drank lemonade, not soda; adults wanting beer ordered a middy; workers had ‘smoko’ or a tea break, not a coffee break or the new fangled ‘designated break time’.

We had capsicums, not peppers; chips, not fries; chewy, not gum and icy poles, not popsicles. Our fruit had pips, not seeds; and skin – not peel – although we would peel the skin.

We had rissoles, which were much bigger than meatballs; and lamb chops not lamb cutlets.   And lollies. Lots and lots of lollies, never candy, which sounded like it would be hard as a rock.

Chocolate was a food group of it’s own.

And for ‘tea’?

We’d have ripper bangers, which we would snaffle straight from the barbie smothered in tomato sauce, not ketchup, after which we ‘had sweets’.

No wonder I don’t know what people are talking about these days.


  1. I had to read that second to last sentence slowly and think about it really hard. I have an Australian friend who came to visit many years ago, and when I offered her a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, she was very confused. Then she showed me how she fixed bangers.

    • Over here, we only fix something if it’s broken :)

      • See, that’s the issue here, in the Deep South, ‘fixing’ means fixing, or preparing. Everywhere else in this country it means ‘fixing’ as in ‘fixing because it’s broken’. Also, here it’s pronounced ‘fitsin’…just so you know. as in “Ah’m fitsin sum sorsage…wuntsum”

        • My turn to read carefully! “Eye’m ficksing sum sossidge… wont sum?” (although we would have sausages (sossidges) as ‘a sausage’ is a singular link, ‘some sausages’ plural.

          • Sausage is generic- neither plural nor singular, depending on the type. If it’s ground and it patties, it’s just sausage. If it’s links and you’re making a bunch,it’s still just sausage. If it’s links and your only making a couple, then you’re selfish and need to make more and you should have known better.

  2. ha ha ha – but when did you have your dinner? And over here, you would never have a middy – when I worked the public bar, it was a pot, a beer or a pony.

  3. I knew cupcakes as patty cakes – did you?

    • Yes, you are exactly right. How did I forget that? They were patty cakes, not cupcakes, even the papers were called patty pans. Thank you !

    • And the light bulb goes on over my head. So THAT is what’s meant in the hand game “Patty cake patty cake,baker’s man…” We always thought it was a biscuits (not the cookie, but the thing we make that’s kind of like a scone…you pat them our with your hands…)

  4. I agree with almost everything, but it was always peanut BUTTER for me here in Sydney. Must be a regional thing, like Jeanieinparadise says.

    Cookies were around when I was a kid, but they were large, rough, usually filled with choc chips or similar. Smooth, shop bought or dainty ones made by nan were always biscuits.

    I also agree with Amanda. Cupcakes didn’t exist, patty cakes or fairy cakes (the ones with wings and filled with cream) did though. :)

  5. Preach! I’m looking forward to reading what you think of the food on the Human Brochure tour. :)

  6. I’m laughing. I’ve always said cookies, brownies, cupcakes, ketchup etc. I had to learn tomahto soss, 100s and 1000s, fairy bread, slices, patty cakes and tea where you eat food and not enjoy the greyish earl. :)

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