Bosses at a West Midlands bakery chain yesterday bowed to public pressure after a bid to make gingerbread men more politically correct saw them rebranded 'gingerbread persons'.

Sales assistants across the region's 20 or so Bakers Dozen shops have been selling the centuries-old treat under the new name after a unilateral decision by a former manager to make the biscuit more politically correct.

But a spokesman for the Bakers Dozen shops - whose parent company is Greggs - said it had been without the go-ahead by head office and yesterday he pledged to phase the new name out.

The re-branding of gingerbread men across the West Midlands is thought to have happened at least a year ago.

One store manager said: "It's a step too far. We have children coming in who have asked for a gingerbread man for years. I have to tell them that they can't have a gingerbread man and they can only have a gingerbread person. It's just silly really as it has been around for years. You can't discriminate against a biscuit."

In a list of goods on sale at the Birmingham city centre outlet the biscuit is listed as: 'Ginger person - 45p'.

One sales assistant said: "It's been called that for a while. I can't remember when it came in. It seems normal now."

A spokesman for the company, which has its headquarters in Newcastle, said: "From talking to people the name has certainly been in use for some time, perhaps a couple of years, in stores in the West Midlands.

"The national policy is to call them what they've been called for two or more centuries. The initiative was taken in good faith, we think by a former area manager who left at least a year ago.

"The important thing from our point of view is consistency."

He said regional managers would make sure staff were aware that the confectionary was once again to be known as gingerbread men.

"Customers have said they prefer the phrase 'gingerbread men'. When it comes time to reprint prices and labels we will revert back to 'gingerbread men'."

Darren Ellis, 36, from Kidderminster, said: "I just think it's political correctness gone mad. What harm could the phrase gingerbread man do anyone?"