• The Tenuous Purpose

    This Blog is built - not, as some might expect, on a flimsy whim but on a strong and single minded principle.

    That principle concerns Biscuits and their position in the world.

    We are really very keen on biscuits.
    As are many of you out there.
    We think.

    We wish to create an archive of Arrowroot, a backlog of Bourbons and a catalogue of Chocolate Fingers. Anybody can contribute an entry - or dispute somebody else's - provided they are not dull.
    Even Americans who perhaps don't really have the heritage of biscuitry that we are fortunate to have here.

    Or maybe they do and we are unaware of the full glory of the cookie.

    We realise that this whole subject is admirably and concisely dealt with by that excellent and unbeatable website A Nice Cup of Tea and a Sit Down. Our feeble efforts will be as the kicking of a gadfly in the face of their wisdom and experience but we hope that we may have a small contribution to make.

  • Biscuit Encounters on Twitter

  • The Synod of Biscuitry

    James Alexander-Sinclair of Blackpitts
    Gardener, Blogger, Journalist, Lecturer etc, etc. Much of his life is spent loafing around other people’s gardens issuing directives and generally cluttering up the place. However, like the great Mr Kipling, he does (occasionally) make exceptionally good gardens. (Although even Mr Kipling messed up a bit with the Carrot and Walnut Mini Classics.)

    Mark Diacono of Otter Farm
    He does sterling work growing many inappropriate plants in Devon. He dedicates a great deal of time and effort nurturing a plethora of plants that are (mostly) totally unsuited to our climate. His is a life of such extreme eccentric dedication that to start a Blog about Biscuits seems perfectly normal. He treads gently in the footsteps of people like the great William Buckland,a professor of Geology who claimed that he could tell location by tasting the local topsoil.

Biscuits and the Class System

A recent press article postulated that, however unwittingly, it was possible to determine the social status of a child from the name its parents had bestowed upon it. For fear of creating unnecessary tumult amongst the gentle reader I won’t quote any examples however the thought crossed my mind that a similar prejudice could be experienced by the consumers of biscuits. Do we perceive that there are “chav” biscuits which should never disgrace the shelves at Fortnum’s and hence never fill the biscuit tins of the “upper classes”;   are there confections so superior that their very appearance in a forecourt 24/7 would be as unlikely as hen’s teeth. Do our pre-conceptions mean that we aspire to different biscuits as our socio-economic circumstances change ? A few unanswered questions but for starters – and a peek into my own prejudices.


Upper class – Bath Olivers

Upper middle class – Duchy Originals

Middle Class – Chocolate Digestives (not supermarket own brand)

Lower middle class – Viscount (obviously with aspirations to be something they aren’t)

Working Class – Supermarket own brand chocolate biscuits (cocoa content below 5%)

Classless – the much discussed Malted Milk and the omnipresent digestive (uncoated of course)


I can feel a thesis coming on . “Proletarianism and Biscuits in 21st century Europe”, “Are Rich Tea biscuits and Marxism compatible ?”

Simon Suter

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11 Responses

  1. I agree about the upper classness of Bath Olivers. I had one for lunch, with a thin slice of a rather uncharacteristically gentle Manchego cheese and some curiously purple tomatoes given to me by an internationally famous magazine editor.

    Duchy Originals are not upper middle class, but they do have pretensions. They are the Hyacinth Bucket of biscuits, catered for those who try to be what they are not. They are the biscuitorial equivalent of National Trust stickers in car windows or green wellies with buckles. Not exactly bling, but pretty close to it, in a tweedy sort of way.

    I’ve never heard of a Viscount biscuit but I did hug a real Viscountess on Tuesday.

    Digestives and Malted Milks are cradle stuff – fine until you discover Nairn’s Root Ginger Oatcakes.

    The archetypal working class biscuit, by the way, is the Tunnocks wafer in the red and gold foil. I tried one once and immediately developed a craving for Newcastle Brown and a whippet.

  2. Where would one put the pink wafer (apart from in a bin – horrible things that stick to the roof of the mouth)? They often remain the solitary denizen of a variety tin, long after the other inhabitants have gone to their Valhalla.

    • Perhaps the manufacturers of pink wafers should market them as Gay Icon biscuits. They could then be used to make interesting, pink, lightweight sculptures or structures for those who prefer their interiors to be pinkly camp. I’m thinking of that game – ?Jengo? Djengo? – where you keep building a tower with little slabs of wood and have to build it up from slabs taken from the bottom.

  3. Forgot to add, from what I’ve read about him, Marx would have any biscuit going as long as Engels was paying.

  4. I believe that all biscuits are equal, but some are more equal than others.
    I am proudly working class, Tesco own brand digestives, sometimes with chocolate, often naked.

    • I now have this vision of someone I don’t even know standing naked eating chocolate digestives. (apologies to Andrew the hubby).

      Back to the post. My question was more about ‘perception’ i.e. first impressions than a mature evaluation. On reflection I’m with Nigel with his Duchy Originals/Hyacinth Bucket link but I guess my initial perception may have been somewhat different.

      Come the revolution we may all be eating bourgois chocolate digestives although I somehow doubt that Tesco’s will be around to sell them to us

      • Oh dear, umm, imagine me as someone utterly beautiful who looks like she’s never eaten a bisscuit in her life. Andrew won’t mind!!

        I believe Tesco would be the 1st place to go in the event of the revolution. Damn it! I have a love/hate relationship with that evil place. I suggest we stock up on biscuits now then topple them, hahaha! (evil laugh)

  5. The pink wafer has hidden depths.
    Many biscuits (Bourbons,Custard creams etc) can be deconstructed into their three constituent parts.
    The Pink wafer has many more layers and requires a steady hand and a scalpel in order to successfully dismantle the structure.
    In fact this act it is an excellent metaphor for Revolution.
    The many pieces of the Capitalist state must be painstakingly (and often painfully) broken down and distributed amongst the people. None of whom will get enough to make them happy.

    Biscuits really do hold the secrets of the world.

  6. Rich Teas will definitely be first up against the wall though, come the glorious day. Yuk.

  7. Ah, but hasn’t Posh Totty has always liked a bit of Rough?

    Old money is notoriously tight – perhaps they are the ones scoffing ASDA boxed selections.

    I wonder where Club Biscuits or Tunnocks sit? No one has mentioned Penguins either.

  8. Clubs are like Chocolate Olivers – the name has remained but the quality is profoundly reduced. (Thinner, nastier choccy.) They may have been Club Class once, but are now distinctly back end of the Economy cabin, near the loos.

    Penguins are evil things but good for a quick energy fix, and then a barf. I vowed I’d never eat another when that hateful stuttering advert came on telly.

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