Cafe sparks debate by introducing gender-neutral gingerbread men

Should gingerbread men be described as gingerbread people from now on? [Photo: Getty]
Should gingerbread men be described as gingerbread people from now on? [Photo: Getty]

A cafe has sparked a debate by replacing traditional ‘gingerbread men’ with gender-neutral gingerbread people.

In the run up to Christmas we can expect our consumption of gingerbread men to majorly increase, but one cafe has decided to make the traditional treat a bit more inclusive by giving it a gender-neutral name.

When a customer at The Tannery in Auckland questioned why the human-shaped snacks were called 'gingerbread men' and not 'gingerbread people', owner Andre Cettina was inspired to make a change and switch the label on the jar to read ‘gingerbread gender-neutral person'.

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“It was completely tongue-in-cheek at the start," Andre told “But it's become a really good conversation piece in the cafe.

“We've had a lot of people commenting saying 'stop being so pedantic, it's just a biscuit'. I had to reply to them going, 'did you miss the whole point?'

“It used to be that 90 per cent of the time we sold [the gingerbread biscuits], it was to kids. There's a lot more people buying them now, which is quite funny.”

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Sharing an image of the newly labelled treats to the cafe’s Facebook page, customers were inspired to leave their comments, with the name switch-up dividing users.

Some suggested the change was another example of the political correctness going mad.

“PC gone mad, always been gingerbread man, why change now?” one user wrote. “It's a biscuit, not a living creature. I find this all so sad!”

“Oh great..just add to the madness why don’t you?”

But others thought it was only right that gingerbread biscuits were given a more inclusive label in these gender-neutral times.

“This is a conversation starter, and these issues won't be dealt with until we are open to talking about them,” one user wrote.

“People getting mad about this completely miss the point of what it could achieve. It isn't ‘PC gone mad,’ it's an opportunity to take a good hard look at yourself and your feelings around a sensitive topic and do some real introspective work on why you feel the way you do.”

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A cafe has rebranded gingerbread men as gender-neutral gingerbread people [Photo: Getty]
A cafe has rebranded gingerbread men as gender-neutral gingerbread people [Photo: Getty]

It's actually not the first time retailers have decided to re-label gingerbread men.

Earlier this year, in a bid to promote gender equality, Co-op Food introduced a gender-neutral version of the biscuit treat.

The store gave the gingerbread person a gender neutral outfit and after crowd-sourcing name options with customers, eventually opted to call the character 'Crumbs'.

Re-branding gingerbread men isn’t the only example of retailers striving to include more gender-inclusive products.

Earlier this year Barbie manufacturer Mattel launched a new line of dolls that are "gender-inclusive" and "free of labels".

Mattel said the dolls were designed to allow children to style them with short or long hair, and in a skirt, trousers, or both.

And back in September the definition of the word ‘they’ as a nonbinary pronoun has been incorporated into the dictionary.

Dictionary publishers, Merriam-Webster, made the announcement that they had incorporated the use of ‘they’ as a nonbinary pronoun to its list of definitions on their website and Twitter.

“They,” the dictionary now notes, can be “used to refer to a single person whose gender identity is nonbinary.

“New words are a happy fact of life for a living language, and taking careful stock of the words that we use is an important part of the work of dictionary editors,” Merriam-Webster officials wrote in a post on the publisher’s website.