A BAKERY unknowingly sparked a huge online debate after one customer discovered the outlet sells gingerbread men as "ginger persons".
It first appeared as though Thomas the Baker in North Yorkshire took the decision as a means of promoting more gender-neutral terms through the sale of its treats.
A popular fixture of Christmases all over the world, gingerbread men are a familiar form of ginger biscuit presented in the shape of a human body and complete with buttons, a smiley face and waistband.
While it's not entirely uncommon to see female-styled versions of the biscuit created, they tend to appear gender neutral, even if the treat is technically termed as a gingerbread man.
But despite these indications, Thomas the Baker seemed, initially at least, to be keen on spreading a positive message of inclusivity to customers.
Gingerbread men being changed to Ginger ‘persons’ 😭😂 people need to get a grip, most ridiculous thing I’ve seen ahahaha pic.twitter.com/PWEbNPKGdU
— Courtney Hodgson (@Ccourtney_1999) October 21, 2018
However, when the aforementioned customer decided to share his discovery on Twitter, it received a mixed response and the truth emerged…eventually.
"Gingerbread men being changed to ginger 'persons' people need to get a grip, most ridiculous thing I've seen ahahaha," one Twitter user wrote in a post.
Meanwhile, another person asked: "So @thomasthebaker what's your reason for changing this?"
"This is just getting stupid," a third chipped in. "I've always known them to be called 'gingerbread men' now they're calling them 'ginger persons' because women were moaning that it's sexist".
Some were more receptive to the perceived change, with one Twitter user stepping forward to show his support for the product while claiming to have been the one that instigated it.
"Thanks to @thomasthebaker for doing the right thing by changing the name of gingerbread men to gingerbread people," he wrote.
"I like to think I played a part in this. I campaigned up and down the country for many months drawing attention to this issue. Here's to gingerbread people!" he wrote on Twitter.
It was only after the initial anger died down that Thomas the Baker responded to reveal their use of the term ginger persons actually pre-dated the new controversy, having first been introduced back in 1983.
"Sorry to disappoint you all - they have been ginger persons since 1983!" the bakery wrote. "It was chosen by one of our managers in York and the name stuck."
"We did get a complaint from trading standards in the '80s that we were discriminating against ginger haired people - seriously!"
Sorry to disappoint you all - they have been Ginger Persons since 1983! It was chosen by one of our Managers in York and the name stuck. We did get a complaint from trading standards in the 80's that we were discriminating against ginger haired people - seriously!! https://t.co/bteVKsBaoo
— Thomas the Baker (@thomasthebaker) October 24, 2018
The story comes just weeks after a school in the US courted controversy after deciding to ban the singing of any Christmas carols containing the word Jesus.