gem in American usage, a small ‘muffin’ popular in the 19th century. Gems were cooked in a gem pan. They bear little resemblance to an English muffin. The same applies to New Zealand gems, claimed by Burton (1982) to be an invention of that country; they are made in gem irons, which typically hold a dozen.
In Britain the term is used for various small items of commercially produced flour or sugar confectionery; thus ‘iced gems’ are small biscuits with rosettes of coloured icing piped on top.
© the Estate of Alan Davidson 1999, 2006, 2014 © in the Editor’s contribution to the second and third editions, Oxford University Press 2006, 2014.