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Which seasonal food do you think is capable of working people into an emotionally fuelled social media frenzy? Christmas gammon? Thanksgiving turkey? Actually, it turns out the answer is hot cross buns.
Well, it’s a little more specific than that. The real controversy surrounds South African retail outlet Woolworths putting Halaal stickers on its hot cross buns.
Owing to the baked good’s association with Easter, a group of Christians took to social media and email to protest Woolworths declaring them fit for Muslim consumption:
Receiving a few emails from Christians who are upset that @WOOLWORTHS_SA hot cross buns are halaal. I must agree its disgusting.
— Tony Seifart (@tonyseifart) March 28, 2012
The majority of the Twitter traffic surrounding the controversy, however, seemed to suggest that most people felt that the issue was an overreaction on the part of those Christians who had protested:
So my 3G suffers because hippies fear cell towers, & some Christians want their #hotcrossbuns to be haraam? Why are we pandering to idiots?
— Jason van Niekerk (@m_lungu) March 29, 2012
— Ruen Govinder (@ruen) March 29, 2012
Christians have bigger issues to deal with than #hotcrossbuns
— shane louw (@shane_da_louw) March 29, 2012
Give it up already people..it’s boring…can’t we all just eat some chocolate eggs and get along?! #hotcrossbuns
— Lauren Lee Prentice (@laurenprentice) March 29, 2012
— Daemos_number_one (@daemos1) March 29, 2012
There are enough #HotCrossBuns in the world for everyone.. So don’t be a “Bunny” about it..
— Clement Eckhardt (@clemenade) March 29, 2012
The story is much the same on Woolworths’ Facebook page, although it is worth remembering that the retailer has the power to delete comments made there.
Woolworths reportedly said “We apologise and assure our customers that no offence was intended. Our next Easter offer will have both non-halaal certified hot cross buns and halaal-certified spiced buns.”
Some believe the hot cross bun to predate Christianity, although the first recorded use of the term only dates back to 1733. According to food historian Elizabeth David, Protestant English monarchs saw the buns as a dangerous hold-over of Catholic belief in England, being baked from the dough used in making the communion wafer.
By that stage, however, it was too late and the buns were selling like an overused simile, so Queen Elizabeth I allowed designated bakeries to sell them, but only over Easter and Christmas.