Scots Offended by Tea Cake Brand Calling Itself ‘British’

By Mike Pomranz |

© D and S Photographic Services / Alamy Stock Photo

I live in New York. Would you call me a New Yorker or an American? Honestly, you could call me either and I wouldn’t mind. Sure, for the latter, I’m getting lumped in with gun-toting Texans, pot-smoking Coloradans and alligator-wrestling Floridians, but that just comes with the territory. Some Scots, however, might not agree with me.

Scotland is, of course, part of Great Britain. However, a number of Scots have taken offense to a recent marketing maneuver made by Scottish biscuit brand Tunnock’s for their line of tea cakes. Ads in London (for you non-geography buffs, that metropolis is in England, not Scotland) have started referring to Tunnock’s as “the Great British tea cake.” For his part, managing director Boyd Tunnock sounded like he didn’t think too much of the wording. “You’ve got the Great British Bake Off and things like that these days,” he said explaining the campaign. “We could have said Scottish but you’re then promoting Scotland. We’re British.” And later stating, “But we could probably call it the Great World Teacake as we sell them abroad as well, in places like Australia and Canada.”

But many Scottish nationalists, still probably a bit unhappy after losing their vote for independence in 2014, are offended by the campaign, especially since Tunnock campaigned for Scotland to remain a part of the UK. A Facebook group called Boycott The Companies That Scared Scotland with over 20,000 members recently put Tunnock’s in their targets, writing, “This is the second time this company have pissed on Scotland after funding a No vote in 2014.” Others have taken to Twitter with the hashtag “#BoycottTunnocks.”

Meanwhile, Tunnock’s is having the last laugh. “I did get a few letters, folk saying their extended family of 100 will never buy another tea cake,” said Boyd Tunnock, the 82-year-old grandson of the man who originally founded the company in 1890. “But since then we’ve sold even more.” Turns out, those Brits are pretty good at creating marketing buzz. The Scots, I’m not so sure about.

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