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Fairy bread is a sort of homemade dessert commonly known to children in Australia and New Zealand and served at parties, but it is spreading in popularity as well to other locations. It is simple to make and usually only involves three ingredients, sliced white bread, butter or margarine, and candy sprinkles known as "hundreds and thousands." It is suspected that the origin of the term fairy bread and the practice of making it are based on the desire of children to emulate a poem entitled Fairy Bread in the collection of poetry A Child's Garden of Verses and Underwoods written in 1913, by the famous Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson.
To make fairy bread, all a child has to do is take soft white slices of bread and butter one side completely. They then cut the bread slices diagonally so that all the pieces are triangles. The final step is to sprinkle each piece with multicolored candy sprinkles known in Australia and New Zealand as "hundreds and thousands." Some instructions also call for removing the crust from the bread, and allow for using cookie batter and other dough as a substitute for white bread.
The process is somewhat flexible, allowing children to work with whatever ingredients their parents have in the kitchen and with which they will allow them to play. Some suggestions also state that the bread should be sprinkled with hundreds and thousands before it is cut. Either way, the fairy bread pieces can now be stacked atop one another as the sprinkles will keep them from sticking together.
Improvised desserts and snack foods of this sort are a nice addition to childrens' tea parties, which are another widespread practice mainly among young girls. Since tea parties are often served with miniature toy tea sets that are, in fact, empty and require the exercise of the child's imagination, fairy bread can add a nice touch to the experience. This is especially true when they call their older siblings or parents to join them in afternoon tea and are proud to have something to offer along with the empty tea cup to the guest.
The popularity of fairy bread has become so widespread that its entered into other aspects of culture in Australia. The coming-of-age story about a 13-year-old girl in the movie Hey Hey It's Esther Blueburger, made in 2008 in Australia, features fairy bread. One of the reasons fairy bread may be so popular, especially with young girls, is probably due to the fact that, at a preteen age, they enjoy hearing stories about small, beautiful, magical creatures such as fairies, brownies, and elves, and these creatures are often featured in children's stories. They most likely cannot help but wonder what these creatures eat, hence the idea of fairy bread is born by writers such as Stevenson who create stories about harmless magical creatures to entertain the young.