An Investigation: Is It A Jatz Or A Jat?
We only ask the BIG and important questions around here, and it's one that has plagued us for a while.
Jatz -- the small, round, crimp-edged plain cracker that is a staple of parties, cheap cheese boards and snack plates nationwide. They're equally at home being loaded up with a chunk of cheese or a little sliver of deli meat, smeared with spread, or dunked in three--olive dip.
You've probably eaten hundreds of the golden-brown crackers, punched with seven tiny holes, through your life. But here's the big question:
What do you call a single Jatz biscuit?
After a box of the snack staples turned up in the 10 daily office this week, it set off this debate. Some maintained that one Jatz cracker was called a Jat, while most us fiercely argued that -- no matter whether talking in the singular or the multiple -- it was always called a Jatz.
Same as how one sheep is called a sheep, while two or more sheep are... still called sheep. Same as fish (don't talk to me about 'fishes'), elk, deer and cattle.
A quick whiparound of our office found the majority of 10 daily called it a Jatz, no matter whether talking about the singular or the plural. But there were a few holdouts who were adamant that one biscuit was called a Jat, and the plural was Jatz.
"It just makes sense. It doesn't sound right to say 'can I have one Jatz?' It sounds right to say 'can I have a Jat'," one of our reporters said.
"I think 'Jat' sounds fine. 'Can I have some cheese on my Jat?'," said another.
"It's a moot point. Who only has one at a time, anyway?"
It set off a fierce debate that led to a Slack poll, a Twitter poll, and a lot of wasted time debating semantics.
So we had to go straight to the source.
We got in touch with Arnott's -- because, you know, journalism -- for the official word. We asked one of their spokespeople, prefacing our request with the admission that it was a "silly question".
Here's what an official Arnott's spokesperson told us:
"Silly? More like brilliant question. A personal favourite of mine. Before working at Arnott’s, I was adamant a singular Jatz was a Jat," they said.
"However, a Jatz is a Jatz whether you have one (who has one) or a box. The brand name itself isn’t a pluralisation."
Not a pluralisation! One is a Jatz, two is Jatz, a whole box is Jatz!
So, for the minority who maintain that one Jatz biscuit is a Jat -- sorry, but you're wrong.
HOWEVER, Arnott's did give us this important tidbit:
"Jatz is one of those brands that belongs to the Aussie people though so if there is enough debate for Jat, we would reconsider our position on the matter," they exclusively revealed to 10 daily.
(While we're on the topic, Jatz and Savoy are NOT the same. Arnott's answered this question in 2014, saying the two "are fairly similar" but there are recipe differences, such as Savoy containing golden syrup)
Just to be safe, we had to speak to a linguist. Emeritus professor Graham Tulloch, of Flinders University, told us the sheep/fish/cattle thing goes back to the earliest form of English, which developed between the years 700-1000, and has simply endured since then.
"Sheep had its its own type of plural, the plural and singular weren't the same, but they developed toward the same as it went on," he told 10 daily.
"There were a great variety of ways of making a plural. The most common was 'as', which has come down as 's' or 'es'. Another one was 'an', which has come down as 'en' in modern English."
"All the endings in old English have changed over time, lots of them have disappeared and the 's' plural has become the most common, but others have survived in different ways."
(For the record, Tulloch said he would call a single Jatz biscuit a Jatz, saying he "wouldn't call it a Jat".)
The Arnott's spokesperson, while answering one of the eternal debates of Australian snacking culture, then left us with another head-scratcher that will start just as many fights:
"The big question though… Is a singular Shapes biscuit, a Shape, or a Shapes??"
We'll let you decide.
Now, onto other important business... is one Ritz cracker called a Ritz, or a Rit?