• 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.

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    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.

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Of Knives and Wrappers

The other day Clare Grant wrote a post on this very Blog entitled Three Beautiful Biscuits. It was a particularly fine post – well written and amusing. It also raised a question that I decided needed further exploration.

What is the correct way to open a packet of Biscuits.

Some are dead easy involving pulling apart an end but anything that is tubular becomes a bit trickier.

In particular I include Digestives (all sorts),HobNobs and Cheddars.

Clare declares that she likes to painstakingly pick open the end of a packet of digestives. This shows admirable dedication as the manufacturers do not encourage this approach. They want you to pull the convenient tab that removes a circle of wrapper about three biscuits down the stack.

Why do they want you to do that?

If I were a conspiracy theorist then I would suggest that then, in order to seal the packet effectively, you will need to eat at least six biscuits. If you unpick it (as Clare suggests) then you need only eat one before resealing. Hence they sell more biscuits.

But then the idea of just eating one biscuit is only for the most self-disciplined.

Crack Ninjas, for example, who as part of their training have to stare,unblinking, at a rice cracker for twelve days.

Or the SAS who are sent off into the wilds of Belize with one unsweetened biscuit, a length of twine and three damp matches.

Or my wife who is partial to eating just a half ginger nut at a time. A ginger nut that has been left out of the tin to soften fractionally before eating.

When it works the pulling the tab thing is very satisfactory; the top three biscuits form a neat hinged top and, for some reason, the biscuits eaten from that top is more delicious than many of their successors.But it doesn’t always work. Sometimes it snaps or fails to engage and disaster looms.

That may be too strong a word: its not like an earthquake or flood.

Not that sort of disaster. More a sort of mini-catastrophe.

A slight hiccup.

If I am to be completely accurate.

Personally I like to use a very sharp knife. The point should be plunged into the wrapper between the first and second biscuits.

It is very satisfying.

Almost as good as cutting through the vacuum sealed foil on top of a new jar of instant coffee.

Or slicing open a thick, handwritten envelope (that probably contains a cheque) with a heavy paper knife.

I might be beginning to sound a little bit suspect with all this talk of knives and slicing so I will stop right here…

James Alexander-Sinclair

11 Responses

  1. I refuse to pull the tab: it smacks of the nanny state & how you must open a packet of biscuits. I’m all for the knife, but it must be serrated so you slice very satisfactorily between the top 2 biscuits. Smug feeling with biscuits – what more do you want!

  2. JAS – You are a man obsessed with foibles.

    For my part, I prefer to plunge the blade into the middle of the pack with a degree of hope and expectation that if I damage a biscuit either side of the knife they are mine as perks of the job.

    The rest are placed in what is euphemistically known as the “biscuit barrel” – the only known purpose of which seems to be to provide an unbroken supply of broken biscuits & crumbs.

    n.b. A hitherto unexplained law of physics decrees that a biscuit which is whole when entering the “barrel” will only ever come out in two or morepieces.

  3. With permanent double vision, using knives is a dangerous thing for me. Sometimes I embrace that danger (particularly when I need a biscuit NOW!) but usually it’s the old red tab for me. God, I’m boring. We don’t have a biscuit barrel we place our packets in a large tupperware box – fresh and all in one piece, every time, yum! Oh, hold on I do have a barrel but it’s in the shed at the lottie and I never got a single biscuit out of it, not even a sniff of one – Andrew scoffed the lot and they were MY birthday present. You snooze- you lose, eh?

  4. James hit the nail on the head with his analysis of why I don’t do the red tab. Why give the biscuit manufacturers the satisfaction?

    If I shared my biscuits I could slice open the packet with impunity — what a great pleasure. That seems a good reason for giving tea break biscuits to the brawny, practical types working in your garden and improving your home. And even a good reason for getting your home and garden improved.

  5. I would like to speak out in the defence of the little tab. I find it insurmountable in it’s facilitation of easy opening and have been known to choose one packet of biscuits over another simply because it had the easy to open tab.
    The problem of the cellophane hinge snapping unexpectedly and dumping your biscuits on the floor, is solved simply by purchasing, as I have, a walk-in biscuit tin.
    No fuss, no muss.

  6. I thought the whole point of the tab was that you then had to consume at least 6 biscuits to have a hope of resealing the packet effectively.

  7. The correct way to open a packet of biscuits is quickly.

  8. I leave my biscuits out on the surface and the cats open them for me.

  9. Oh, Arabella has the best idea of all. Was there a tab? We didn’t even notice. Walk in is great, but do you not have baggies with slider tops over there? The talk of knives is interesting but sounds dangerous. Congrats on your media guild blog award. 🙂

  10. The red tab never works for me. Like “pierce here for straw”, I suspect it is the invention of someone with a warped sense of humour who is round the corner rolling on the ground laughing while I wrestle with their fiendish device.

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