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Mayfair or Penthouse?

I think TUC biscuits and their near relatives may form a sort of rite of passage.

When salt becomes at least worthy of inquisitiveness alongside sweet. I’m a little amazed that no-ones come forth with a life changing moment based around the humble Ritz biscuit – has a nibble ever been so unlikely to have been served up at the hotel with which it shares it’s name?

Anyway, the savoury biscuit – fabulous thing in its own way. I was never interested in them other than by virtue of inquisitiveness about why adults seemed so interested in them. My dad was a Ritz man. You were either a Ritz man or a TUC man back then. Utd or City.  Penthouse or Mayfair.

The moment of induction came on a school visit to France.

I was 10.

The week should stick in my mind for the visits to landing beaches, the Bayeux tapestry, remembering what pamplemousse was, but the trip will always be the TUC trip to me. After another lunch of  weird meaty yet watery soup, carrots in it, I can almost taste it now – not unpleasant by any means, just different to what I was used to. I went back to the room I was sharing with two others.

I was in the middle.

To my right Gary. He was magic at table tennis.

I was good, he was magic.

He was also still downstairs.

His TUC biscuits were on the side. I pinched one.

No one would notice one, I didn’t even hesitate.

That was when I really got salt, as in Salt, on it’s own, without vinegar. I think every 10 year old then loved salt and vinegar crisps and limeade (at least until Frazzles and Cresta came along).

In they went, certainly one by one, sometimes two by two. I toyed with the idea of leaving the last one.

I really did.

For a minute I really thought he’d think he’d made a mistake. “That’s funny”, he’d think, “I thought I’d only eaten one rather than eaten all but one, silly me”.

And I’d get away with it. Then I ate it.

The sound of feet on the stairs. I pushed the wrapper along the ledge outside the open window. Nonchalant, sat on the bed.

“Alright Mark?”



“Wess. I’m find”.

Spitting yellowy crumbs out of my still full mouth.

Rumbled. He found the wrapper.

I tried to deny it.

He found half a fallen biscuit sticking out of my tanktop.

Rumbled and shamed.

He looked at me like he was really really disappointed and just said “Thanks a lot …mate”.

No fuss, no scrap, just disappointment. It took me a Texan bar and 4 packets of Space Dust to wipe his disappointment away, which is a pretty high price if you ask me.

Mark Diacono


11 Responses

  1. If you’ll permit me a slight tangent, it’s interesting that salt’n’ vinegar really used to be the crisp flavour of choice, but now it is relegated to third choice, at best, and ‘they’ have even taken the desperate step of swapping the colours with cheese ‘n’ onion in a bid to get them eaten by mistake.
    Well perhaps ‘interesting’ is stretching it.

  2. Ritz crackers with a scraping of cream cheese and a sliver of pineapple.
    Ritz crackers with a smear of liver sausage**
    Ritz crackers with fish paste.
    ’nuff said

    ** Supplementary:whatever happened to liver sausage and Mattesons: purveyors of cold meats. Their jingle/adverts had something like mmmmMattessons.

  3. ‘Hilariously’ we had a teacher at school called Mrs Mathesson which was close enough for a bunch of 11 year olds – arms aloft in class ‘Mrs MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMattheson can i please go to the toilet, I won’t be a mmmmmmmminute’.

    Weird how almost everyone has salt and vinegar as favourite for a while. Not sure i could stomach them now. Perhaps as one of four in the line for the in ultimate face pulling –
    1 – brush teeth
    2 – glass of orange juice
    3 – smoke a rollie

    put ‘eat a packet of salt and vinegars’ anywhere after 1 and you’ll have a reasonable chance of winning the world gurning championships

    • On the face pulling/lips like a hamsters anus stakes the very worst thing are pickled onion flavour Monster Munch. They are truly revolting and capable of stripping away an entire layer of taste buds.

  4. The price of, a Texan bar and 4 packets of Space Dust, sounds totally worth it to me. Although I might have been tempted to get him stuffed sick on Space Dust so as to keep the Texan bar for myself.
    As they say, nom nom nom.

    Oh and @blackpittsbiscuit, adding pineapple to anything, let alone a TUC biscuit is something I can only describe as evil and unnecessary.
    Stop it at once.

  5. Salt and Vinegar are still my favourite, especially Hula Hoops. But maybe that’s because I never was much of a crisp eater and still only indulge rarely. Oh god, salt and vinegar crisp sandwiches – heaven.
    Still haven’t become a fan of the Ritz or TUC, I guess I need to get out there and but them again. Taste them anew with my (now) 30 year old taste buds!

  6. Hula hoops, yes, but thinking more on the topic, Tayto crisps rule! And I meant ‘buy them again’, not ‘but them again’!??

  7. The liver sausage bedacked ones were always last to go at the parties I attended in my yoof. The outside of the biscuit was still crunchy and then there was the disgustingly soggy middle where the liver sausage was. Several beers needed to be consumed in swift succession afterwards to get rid of the awful lingering sensation.

    Lia – I must go on a crisp packet recce immediately – I always thought the colours were reversed between the Walkers and Golden Wonder varieties?

  8. TUC biscuits with hot lime pickle and a slither of cheese on!
    Mmmmmmmmmouth watering!

    Your post made me feel like I was there stealing the TUC biscuits with you. It’s the salt that does it for me too but my favourite crisps were plain with the little blue bag of salt in with them so you could really load them with it!!

  9. We alternate between Tuc, Ritz & Cheddars as a ‘little nibble of something when you’re peckish’ depending which is on offer.

    As for crisps, I still love Salt & Vinegar, the stronger the better, but if feeling sophisticated it is the sea salt & balsamic!!

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