Nothing says Christmas like filling the house with the smell of spicy gingerbread cookies baking in the oven.
But when said cookies are in the the shape of F-35s stealth fighter jets which are designed to kill people, and the world is in the midst of a showdown with radical Islamic militants, the benign gingersnap cookie can take on a far darker connotation.
That's what happened this week when the Norwegian government took to its official Instagram account to spread the Christmas spirit by declaring that "Christmas baking is now underway!" and posting a picture of raw cookie dough cut in the shape of an F-35.
The post is a reference to a recent deal between Norway and the American military-industrial complex, wherein the Nordic country decided to update its fleet with 52 orders of the F-35 at an estimated long-term cost of $769 million—each, according to Rear Admiral Arne Røksund, The Local reports.
In addition to proving that no holiday symbol is sacred when the Western world is at war with ISIS, the Instagram post coincided with the US asking Norway to provide additional assistance in the global fight against ISIS and the Nordic country responding by vowing to contribute fighter jets, special forces, and logistics support in Syria.
So while social media might provide a fun platform for the Norwegian government to keep its military allies happy, it may not have been the best move to associate fighter jets with a holiday dedicated to peace on earth.
The photo sparked a flamewar for the ages in the comments section, with opinions split between support for the air force ("Fighter jets are an important part of the Norwegian defence and most of us are happy that they exist") and downright outrage by Norwegians ("These gingersnaps come at a bad time, as the US is pressuring Norway to join the bomb attacks in Syria") who saw the cookies as a grotesque form of propaganda.
The government of Norway eventually acknowledged the unfortunate symbolism of its post and responded to this criticism by apologizing for the post and uploading a photo of a heart-shaped gingersnap.
"A government account on Instagram also has a heart," the government wrote in the subsequent Instagram post. "We understand that many people reacted to the post of fighter jet cookies and we of course once again apologize. This account is the government's official presence on Instagram and each department uses it to show things both big and small from everyday life. A continued Merry Christmas to our followers."
This controversy is a salient reminder that in chaotic times like these, even the humble gingersnap cookie can force governments to rethink their position on military matters.