• 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.

Hawking The Goods

In the foreign land known popularly as the United States, there is a class of biscuit-cookies like no other.  These delicacies cannot be purchased in stores or shops.  They are only for sale during spring and can only be had by dealing with young girls in uniform.  Are you curious yet?  Do you know what these might be?  What product would use underage females in such a way in this day and age of child protection laws and helicopter mothers?  This is something with which I have the most intimate knowledge for I was at one time not only the leader of such a group of young ladies, aged eight through twelve years of age, but a leader also of the cookie-biscuit sales force, the Cookie Mom.

The organization is called the Girl Scouts in the states, the under ten year olds are called Brownies.  How appropriate.  My two female offspring were heavily involved in these goings on and I was their troop leader.  The largest fund raiser for the troop activities is the cookie-biscuit sales.  Each troop was required to sell a certain number of these sweet treats and prizes were awarded to the girls who sold certain quotas.  Order sheets were to be taken door to door for neighbors, friends and relatives to fill out how many boxes of each kind of several varieties they would like, to be delivered and paid for at a future date.  The numbers would be tallied, the boxes assembled and distributed by the Cookie Mom and the money collected by the girls.  Sounds like a piece of cake, doesn’t it?

Young girls collecting money, personal checks taken only as a last resort, door to door.  What could be more wonderful?  The cookies themselves vary from year to year with a couple of regulars, Thin Mints and Shortbreads always offered.  The price steadily rises while the number of cookies per box steadliy shrinks.  Surprisingly there are still many folks who will cheerfully pay for these sugary tooth breakers, remembering when their own little darlings were selling them or even when they themselves were part of this height challenged sales force.

Looking back through jaded eyes, it all seems outrageous now, if not some kind of child abuse.  But for several years we had cupboards filled to the brim with boxes of Tagalongs, Do-Si-Dos, Thin Mints and Shortbreads, my personal favorite for dunking in tea or coffee. There are cookbooks with recipes to use the cookies as basis for other desserts.  They also freeze well.  For anyone who was affiliated with this enterprise knows that the parents of the girls end up buying the majority of boxes.

The list of cookies was obtained from the all knowing Wikipedia.

Thin Mints: Thin, mint-flavored chocolate wafers dipped in a chocolate coating.

Peanut Butter Sandwiches/Do-si-dos: Peanut butter filling sandwiched between crunchy oatmeal cookies.

Peanut Butter Patties/Tagalongs: Crispy vanilla cookies layered with peanut butter and covered with a chocolate coating.

Shortbreads/Trefoils: A traditional shortbread cookie made in the shape of the Girl Scout trefoil logo.

Samoas are also called Caramel deLites.Caramel DeLites/Samoas: Vanilla cookies coated in caramel, sprinkled with toasted coconut and laced with chocolate stripes.

All Abouts/Animal Treasures/Thanks-A-Lot: Shortbread cookies dipped in fudge and topped with an embossed thank-you message in one of five languages, including English, Spanish, French, Chinese, and Swahili.

Lemon Chalet Cremes: Cinnamon sandwich cookies with lemon creme filling.

Cinna-spins: Introduced in 2008 by ABC Bakers, Cinna-spins are cinnamon-flavored cookies that come in 100-calorie packs. Cinna-spins are shaped like miniature cinnamon rolls. Retired and replaced by Daisy Go Rounds.

Daisy Go Rounds: Very similar to Cinna-spins, this cookie replaced them for the 2009 sale. They are advertised as low fat and also come in 100 calorie packs. They are cinnamon flavored and shaped like daisies. These cookies are only available from ABC Bakers.

Sugar Free Chocolate Chips: Introduced in 2008, they are small sugar free cookies.

Dulce De Leche: Introduced in 2009, these are Latin caramel cookies.

Lemonades: Round shortbread cookie with lemon icing.

Do any of these sound like the English type biscuit?

Frances Garrison

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21 Responses

  1. Oh my goodness, that is a fair list of ‘biscuits’. Perhaps it was my fairly ignorant series of articles that prompted more international biscuit bloggers to speak up? I hope so, because then my cunning plan will have worked!

    As an aside, has anyone else noticed the little smiley face next to the blogroll title. Perhaps the gremlins have been eating Jammie Dodgers again?

  2. I’m imagining millions of households in the USA where a certain cupboard door is opened by the unwary and hundreds of boxes of cookies fall out!

    Did any of them taste any good?

    • Hi VP,
      You are quite astute. There was a great danger of injury from falling cookie boxes stashed in cupboards, similar to an avalanche. Our family liked the Thin Mints, but even favorites were avoided after the thousandth bite.

      • Also what was it for – a fundraiser for the girl scout troop?

        This post also reminds me of my first trip to Australia in the early 1990s. Our visit coincided with Anzac day and everyone was being urged to buy boxes of Anzac biscuits ‘for our brave boys’.

        I was in Sainsbury’s last night doing a bit of light research on what biscuits are available these days and noted that Anzac biscuits were on sale alongside some Oreos. When did that happen?

        More importantly when did their lovely coconut biscuit equivalent of the custard cream disappear? I had a particular craving for them last night and it went unassuaged. I fear there might be some serious consequences…

      • VP, it was the only fundraiser for the organization, although they also received money from a charity called the United Way that supported several local entities that benefitted the public. A portion went to the headquarters, paid staff, advertising, overhead expenses, and each troop got a share for field trips and materials. There was much out of pocket for the leader in my case, but a very worthwhile endeavor on the whole. We did lots of camping, crafts, singing, visiting elderly in nursing homes and general fun, and I feel the girls benefitted greatly from all of our various interactions. I did not care for the cookie selling, but saw it as a necessary evil.

  3. So have I got this right – the older girls do the selling, but it’s the under 10s that are sent down the biscuit mines to dig the things up?
    That sounds entirely reasonable, but they obviously need more training as there is a severe lack of Custard Creams. And what kind of biscuit assortment does not include at least one variety that has been named after a revolutionary leader?
    Honestly, I ask you.

    • Yes, that is right. But the younger girls also were sellers, who could resist those charming chubby cheeked smiles holding boxes of overpriced poorly named goodies? Mining was tough work though. Always the danger of chocolate chip sugar free walls collapsing. They were required to wear lighted helmets. As for the lack of enticing names, I have no answer. They did not ask for input from the leaders or scouts. We could have done a much better job of it.

  4. These are really bad biscuit names (quite apart from the lack of revolutionary leaders* as Mr Uku points out). I am not at all tempted by either Lemon Chalet Cremes or Cinna Spins. As for sugar free chocolate chip cookies, well. That girl scout would get pretty short shrift. The whole idea of a sugar free biscuit is an abomination.

    *by the way the best revolutionary leader who does not yet share his name with a biscuit is Bernardo O’Higgins liberator of Chile.

    • You are correct about both the names and the flavors, James. Poor choices indeed. Lemon creme is not at all appetizing, even if the ingredients were in perfect balance and the baking just so. There was no sugar free offering when I was involved with it, I am proud to say. As for dear Bernardo, may his time yet come for being immortalized by a baked good.

  5. Am I the only one that can see the smiley face? I’m getting scared, as it’s starting to smile in a sinister way.

  6. I see the sinister smiley face…

  7. I so miss Girl Scout Cookies. I shall now go sit in a corner and have a pity party. *sigh*

  8. Frances, you brought back memories of helping my sister, the Brownie, lug her cartons of cookies through the snow. One of my aunts was a leader in the 1950’s. She once brought thin mints to a family party where (non-dunkers better skip this part) she demonstrated that a quick dunk in coffee melted off enough of the chocolate dip to allow the Girl Scout Seal, impressed on the wafer, to peek through.

    The Scouts no longer sell cookies door-to-door here in Austin, Texas, but in very early spring folding tables are set up outside of local businesses and the girls peddle boxes of cookies to shoppers under the eye of adult leaders. I’ve been known to buy one of thin mints and another of Samoas.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    • That does seem like a safer deal, the table sales. That order sheet was always a nightmare. We often could not read what the address was or which types they had checked. Whoever thought that stuff up? HA I still will eat an occasional thin mint or shortbread when offered.

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