• 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.

Test Driving A Few – Part One

Feeling so left out by all of these wonderful biscuit encounters, it was decided that we would search high and low at grocers and specialty shops for the wonderful delicacies to taste for ourselves.  There won’t be romantic memories of sweet times gone by involved in this posting, neither parts one or two.  This will be a scientific taste test.

First the goods must be located.  Our local markets were woefully short of stock in the foreign foods sections.  Lots from Mexico however.  A trip through the larger city of Knoxville, Tennessee, USA  recently took us to the World Market, a purveyor of imported foods and merchandise.

Jackpot!

The shopping cart was loaded with one each of every biscuit from across the pond available.  These are not little individual lunch box sized cartons, but each contain a dozen or more of the sweets.  Here is the list of what was found.  The descriptions, if any were what was written on the front of the packaging, followed by the country of origin.  In no particular order, just as they were withdrawn from the shopping bag:

1.  Dean’s Oat Biscuits-Sultana and Heather Honey (Scotland)

2.  Arnott’s original chocolate coated biscuits with a chocolate cream center (Australia)

3.  Arnott’s Mint Slice chocolate biscuits (Australia)

4.  Cadbury Finger originals-cookies covered with Cadbury milk chocolate (UK)

5.  McVitie’s Digestives-dark chocolate-tasty wheat cookies half coated in plain chocolate (UK)

6.  Daelmans-the original Dutch caramel wafers-delicious wafers filled with sweet cream caramel (Holland)

7.  Dean’s shortbread fingers (Scotland)

8.  Schuhmann chocolate coated spice cookies with apricot filling (Germany)

9.  Schuhmann chocolate coated spice cookies with berry fruit filling (Germany)

10. Gille Galletas de Narahjas-orange oat crisps (Sweden)

11. Bahlsen choco Leibniz-dark chocolate-butter biscuits and dark chocolate (Germany)

12. Walkers Ginger Royals-luxury ginger shortbread with smooth, dark chocolate (Scotland)

Well, there you have it.  What about this motley crew?  Are there any warnings before these packets are opened and my family is exposed to the contents?  All had a date stamped  on the wrapping of 2010 except the Arnott’s Mints which we purchased for half price.  They should still be edible even though the date was April of 2009.  That was just for selling, right?  Eating can take place later with safe results.  Safe but perhaps stale.  We fully expect all of these to be on the less than fresh side of the aisle.  Are there any recommendation?  Eat this one firsts?  Don’t dare bite into this ones?  We have never tasted any of them before, being biscuit virgins.

Stay tuned for the findings by our impartial panel of family members.

Frances Garrison.plain.

Hooray. Frances is the second of our contributors to earn the accolade plain.She is also the first American to be rewarded. Whoop de doo and Yee-hah (as they say in cowboy films).

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31 Responses

  1. Thanks for the honor of plain, James. Yeehah is quite appropriate since I am originally from the land of the cowboys, Oklahoma.

  2. Yeehah Frances! 🙂

    I seem to remember the Arnott’s mint biscuits are a bit sickly, so you may need to consume these at several sittings.

    The plain chocolate digestives are my favouries cultivar of this particular variety.

    The Cadbury’s fingers are frequently on offer at Threadspiders when I go to hers for coffee 🙂 WE both have memories of being able to smell the chocolate from the factory from our school when the wind was in the right direction and NAH was at school with one of the Cadbury family. These biscuits may increase in value because Hershey (and Kraft) are currently trying to take over Cadbury’s, so they might be the last of a dying breed of biscuit if this goes ahead.

    The Scottish biscuits remind me of holiday biscuits and the kind of thing on offer at airport gift shops as being ‘particularly British’.

    The Bahlsen’s are most definitely at the upper end of the market.

    The Swedish ones sound more Spanish than Swedish.

    I haven’t a clue about the rest.

    This is a most impressive thing you’re doing Frances! Unfortunately it’s difficult for us to reciprocate on our side of the pond as the only American biscuit on offer appears to be Oreos.

    • Thanks for that VP. As luck would have it, this post was not published until after the taste testing, but from what you have described, tastes vary. 🙂 The Hershey/Kraft/Cadbury thing is in the news over here as well. When we lived in Pennsylvania, it was withing driving distance to the Hershey theme part, complete with tour of the choclate factory, ala Willie Wonka. I took my girl scout troop there, ironically. 🙂

    • Well Frances, I managed favouries instead of favourite!

      I look forward to seeing what you made of them all. It must have been quite a marathon. What you go through for the purposes of this blog! 😉

      • It was pure torture! HA Perhaps James will see fit to post these in order, who knows how the mind of The Commissar works? Had to check the spelling on that one, lucky it is on the sidebar.

      • Worry not.The Taste test results are coming soon: Part Two on Saturday and Part Three next Wednesday.
        Prepare yourselves for some shocking revelations……….

  3. PS When I used to come over to the States on business many moons ago, I was always begged to bring as much Cadbury’s chocolate as I could carry as it was considered by my colleagues to be so much nicer than Hershey’s!

    Personally I do like their Almond Kisses though.

    • Hershey’s Special Dark with almonds, in miniature bars are my after dinner treat.. If I have been very good, there will be two.

      • That sounds just my kind of chocolate – plain with nuts in. Yum.

        Hmm, perhaps we’re hijacking this blog a bit much in favour of chocolate? I must keep to the subject at hand in future 😉

  4. Ah, good to know, thanks James.

  5. An exceptional list. I’m quite envious of you.
    My personal favourites would have to be the Plain Chocolate Digestives for everyday dunking and the Choco Leibniz for when I’m feeling posh or trying to impress the ladies.
    Nothing says ,”come hither,” like a chockie biccie.

    And what is it with shortbread fingers? They really are a lovely treat, but I only seem to have them when somebody brings me one of those tartan tins after a visit to The Highlands.

    • Hi Mr. Uku, thanks. You might be surprised by the results of the American tasters. As a tease, the Choco Leibs were very good. We did seem to be a chocolate loving group. I don’t want to spoil the upcoming posts so will say no more.

      We see no smiley face, drat! Left out in the cold once again.

  6. I can see it! I can see it!
    That little smiley face near the word “Blogroll”.

    Nurse! It’s happening again.

  7. Blimey.I can see the smiley face as well….

  8. Apparently it is something to do with stats…I could get rid of it if I could be bothered but, quite honestly, I can’t.
    Consider it a beneficent smiley rather than an evil-waiting-until-you-sleep-before-I-split-you from-gizzard-to-second-thursday-in-Epiphany…

  9. I’m glad it’s not just me that can see the smiley face.

  10. Frances, Do you remember how Hershey smelled as you were driving into the city? Delicious~~

    My college roommate’s mom was English and she would send us all kinds of English foods. Unschooled in the delicacies of GB~~I often didn’t appreciate them; although, I loved the Cadbury chocolates:-)

    Gail

    • Yes. The whole town smelled like chocolate, for the cocoa bean hulls were used as mulch in all the flowerbeds. I bought some and placed it in my own garden and would stir it to bring up the fragrance, even months later.

  11. No smiley face for me 😦

    Is it this blog’s equivalent of a freemason’s handshake?

  12. If Hershey do take over Cabury I may have to chain myself to the Cabury factory gates so no one can get in. That or I shall give up Cabury’s chocolate altogether (apart from Caramels) – that’ll bloody teach them.

    Francis – WELCOME to the .plain group xx

    Chocolate Digestives rule, milk and dark ones. Damn it I have no biscuits in this house at present, I knew I shouldn’t have come here.

    • .Plain R us, Carrie, a highly select club, eh? The thought of chaining oneself to a chocolate factory doesn’t sound half bad. There are worse places. You may be surprised at the taste test results, but remember that we are mere Americans without the uniquely British upbringing to appreciate what is really good eatin’.

  13. My student flat caretaker’s wife worked for Rowntree’s in Newcastle (not York!). He was sick and tired of chocolate, so he used unload pretty unlimited supplies of Kit Kats, Lion Bars and Fruit Gums onto us 🙂

    And back home in my holiday job at the local chemists, a lady used to come in every week with an enormous bag of Cadbury’s misshapes and mini-eggs. My share of the spoils amounted to about 2lb of chocolates every week 😀

  14. A panel of unbiased taste testers will be good ~~I wonder if we could ship cookies to VP for a similar taste test? I am making a list right now! Keebler has ones my boys love!
    gail

    • You would have to make the list, Gail. Packaged cookies have never been part of our diet. We have made a whole lot of cookies over the years, not so much anymore with just the two of us to feed. Hmmm. I am thinking of another post idea! It won’t be long before I am .orange or make that F, The Orange. 🙂

  15. I shared them with my family and I was a competitive swimmer at the time, so very svelte. Also working in a chemist’s shop lugging stuff around the stockroom, up and down ladders etc etc to take the shop’s stock upstairs, not to mention being on one’s feet all day, 6 days a week was quite hard work!

    Gail – sound yummy, bring it on!

    • Well, that sounds better than you eating it all, as I would have done, long ago. Competitive swimmer, very strong arms! Good for pushing wheelbarrows and lifting rocks and bags of mulch.

  16. Having an English friend who sends you gifts from the UK is fab! In fact I had plum pudding with single malt scotch whiskey last evening. Fished from out of the freezer! The shortbread fingers are my fav and some was sent to me on my birthday. Cadbury with fruit and nuts is another fav too. Am I a foodie?
    A resounding YES!
    I tend to think English goodies are not as sweet as ours in the US but still very good. Anyone had wagon wheels? Oh and Frances, I have a can of haggis in the cupboard if you would enjoy having it for dinner one evening.

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