I have a theory which has yet been unproven but which, when I mention to friends, is greeted with much agreement. There are some biscuits which are almost impossible to actually buy. “Such as?” I hear you cry. Well, those biscuits that are in huge supply at schools – the sports biscuits (milk biscuits with graphics of athletics on them), custard creams (bleurgh), rich tea (why??) and garibaldi. The doyennes of break times these biscuits are but does anyone actually purchase them now they are adults? Are they not the loss leader amongst the biscuit manufacturers of this land, given away in huge quantities to satisfy break-time needs amongst school pupils?
Break-time at my school was brill, whizzer and generally tops. As a youngster it meant warm curdled milk or even frozen curdled milk and a biscuit. As we got older it meant POST (whooop) and the chance for a crafty fag on the roof and then a biscuit. Simple pleasures but 10.30am to 10.46am were sacrosanct minutes in my life. And each time we were left lacking by the biscuit selection. Until, that is, you made prefect when HobNobs made an appearance. Oh the beauty of such a biscuit, talked about in hushed reverent tones amongst those in the years lower than prefect-ness. A whole packet amongst the 10 of us, eaten in hushed oaty whispers in the prefects room.
A hierarchy of biscuits then during my formative years leading to the assumption that the lower down the school you were, the more likely you were to receive biscuits that were charitable donations from big brands. All of us just waiting until that day that a packet of HobNobs was our prize. We even hoarded our biscuits, sometimes taking four sports biscuits or three custard creams and secreting them amongst our green and brown geography exercise books, forgetting them until double maths and then being ridiculously excited at our contraband. Even garibaldi biscuits, the worst of the worst in the heirachy took on a special meaning when found a few days later and nibbled surreptitiously (and as they tasted stale the minute they came out of the packet, two days made no difference in succulence).
Just last week I was browsing the aisles of a well known discount food shop and happened upon ‘sports biscuits’ (a whole pack of 40 for 50p….) but after picking them up, looking at the strange characters engaged in pole vault or long jump on their beige faces, I quite easily put the packet down again as a sign that I had outgrown the hierarchy of school biscuits once and for all.