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Mysterious Origins of an Australian Icon
Who invented one of Australia's greatest culinary treats?
Eric Shackle (shack)     Print Article 
Published 2006-07-28 12:21 (KST)   
"School fetes hit a snag: lamingtons a no-no" read a headline on the front page of The Sydney Morning Herald on July 26. The article beneath it reported a move to extend bans on unhealthy foods, already imposed on school tuckshops, to all school events, such as fund-raisers, excursions and sport days.

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For those who have no idea what a lamington looks like, and have yet to taste one, it's a small cube of sponge cake coated all over with soft chocolate and desiccated coconut, and is widely regarded as one of Australia's few culinary gifts to the world.

They are popularly thought to have been named after the second Lord Lamington, Governor of Queensland from 1895 to 1901, but there are several other theories about their origin.

Lord Lamington detested them, and invariably called them "those bloody poofy woolly biscuits." A picture of Lamington with his very pretty wife can be seen here.

A story by Paul Tully, on (of all unlikely places) the Ipswich (Queensland) City Council's Website, says:
"The national icon...was created through an accident at work by a maid servant to Lord Lamington. The nervous maid servant was working at Government House in Brisbane when she accidentally dropped the Governor's favourite sponge cake into some chocolate. Lord Lamington was not a person of wasteful habits and suggested that it be dipped in coconut so as to cover the chocolate to avoid messy fingers. The maid servant's error was proclaimed a magnificent success by all! And so the humble lamington was born!"
That's a good story, but sadly that's probably all it is, a story.

Another version is recorded by the late John Hepworth in the July 1977 issue of Nation Review. Apparently at a banquet in the outback town of Cloncurry (Queensland) a diner accidentally dropped a piece of spongecake into some gravy and then threw it over his shoulder in a temper. It landed in a dish of shredded coconut and:
"A certain Agnes Lovelightly, in a flash of genius, saw the possibility of substituting chocolate sauce for the brown gravy, and so the lamington was born...in the snobby bumsucking manner of the day it was named in honor of Baron Lamington, who was Governor of Queensland at the time."
The Scots and the New Zealanders also try to claim that they invented the lamington.

Some Scots say that a sheep shearer's wife in the village of Lamington, 37 miles south of Edinburgh, served the treat to a group of sheep shearers who later took the idea to Australia.

As for New Zealand, many Kiwis firmly believe they invented not only lamingtons, but also that other famous Oz delicacy, the pavlova.
Picture credit: Spice Blog
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Eric Shackle

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