• 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.

What’s in a name? That which we call a cookie by any other name…

Here in Canada, land of theoretical bilingualism, we Anglophones have for the most part embraced our British Empire roots, keeping the monarchy and associated holidays, retaining spellings such as colour, honour, humour, centre, fibre.

However, when it comes to what folks in the now UK call biscuits, we’ve had our own War of Independence and gone with our US neighbours, calling those delightful soupcons of confectionary delight COOKIES.

Our Francophone siblings, les Quebecois of Quebec and les Acadiens of parts of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, curiously side with their former sworn enemies in Britain and refer to those darling little baked items as biscuits, or sometimes as gateaux secs.

What WE refer to as biscuits are more breadlike, eaten with such delights as baked beans, stew, soup, or as the shortcake part of strawberry shortcake. Well-made, they are light, airy, delightful mixtures of butter, flour, possibly herbs or cheese depending on the use, milk and a wee bit of sugar. Not-well-made, they can be substituted for pucks in a good game of outdoor shimmy (hockey), or could be suspected as lethal weapons going through the ever-increasingly paranoid security mavens at airports.

It’s a good thing for some of us that the word cookie exists. For example, although it’s absurd enough that the tiny bits of information websites leave on our computers are called ‘cookies’, think how much more absurd it would be if they were called ‘biscuits’?

One of my favourite musicians is rocker David Cook, of Blue Springs, Missouri.

(this is him in Montreal in October, where he put on an amazing concert, part of it acoustic. Ignore the screaming fans and wait for the voice. I was in the balcony and did not scream.) This isn’t a digression. Stay with me.

Cook sprang to prominence in 2008 by his appearances on American Idol, which he ultimately won. He won the hearts of millions both with his amazing voice and his dedication to raising funds and awareness about brain cancer, which his older brother suffered from for more than a decade. Some of Cook’s fans in North America are referred to as Cookies (I, however, am not), while his ardent followers in the Philippines call themselves Cookistas. Calling them Biscuities or Biscuitas just somehow wouldn’t work.

But the most culturally significant rationale for the existence of the word Cookie comes to us from the charming address of Sesame Street. Submitted for your approval, one of the most enduringly charming icons of the past two generations, the Cookie Monster, singing his anthem. And for those of us who are enamoured with cookies of all kinds…well, it’s our anthem too.

C is for Cookie, it’s good enough for me. B is for Biscuit just doesn’t warm the heart quite as much, nor would calling that delightful blue fluffball the Biscuit Monster.

Shakespeare had it right, though: What’s in a Name? That which we call a cookie by any other name would taste as sweet (even if it wouldn’t quite scan on Sesame Street).

I now retire to reward myself with a cup of tea and a leftover Christmas sugar cookie. Somehow, we haven’t managed to eat them all yet.

Jodi DeLong

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8 Responses

  1. Good to see you here Jodi!

    Perhaps there’s room for both cookie and biscuit? I’ve just tried substituting ‘cookie jar’ in the lyrics of the previous post and it just doesn’t work.

  2. Hurrah for the Cookie monster, my fav sesamstreet fluffy muppet. Oh, and that David Cook chappie isn’t bad either. 😉 The Cookies have it!

  3. Hi Jodi, before I even began reading and saw David Cook I knew that was your post! HA I agree that the word cookie has a certain cache that biscuit just doesn’t. Period. Also, it might have been mentioned on this very blog that Cookie Monster is no longer on Sesame Street. He sent a negative message with that whole cookie thing it seems. What a travesty!
    Frances

  4. Thanks, you guys, for the support! Like you, Yolanda, I still love Cookie Monster, regardless of what the politically correct set say. It’s appalling to me that some educators are so humourless. Besides, he’s blue, and we all know how I feel about the colour blue.
    VP, you’re quite right of course, there’s room for both cookies and biscuits. I wrote this post long before I encountered yours. 🙂
    As for David Cook, Frances, guilty as charged! 🙂 ..yeah, he’s definitely my favourite singer, even supplanting Bono of U2 and Chris Martin of Coldplay. Nice human being, and I love my musicians to have a social concert. I even know what kind of cookies he’s been known to eat (he fessed up at a concert that I saw a youtube of): Deep Fried Oreos, from a State Fair somewhere your way, I believe…which sounds just wrong to me. I’m not sure THAT is food, let alone cookies.

    • HA Jodi, they will deep fry anything here. Recent advertisements are hawking deep fried breaded pickle slices. I am ill at the thought. We also have deep fried twinkies. Unfathomable. At Thanksgiving many make deep fried whole turkey. They sell the extra large frying pots and gallons of cooking oil next to the birds at the grocers. Have never tried it.

  5. I think we should have some reconcilition – (as my government here in NI is apparently unable to do, I shall put aside past differences for the good of all). Let us enjoy and celebrate both the cookie AND the biscuit, lexicons need not matter. They bring us such happiness, we shouldn’t argue in front of them – shame on us all………

  6. a COOKista here thanking you for the mention 😉 i can explain why we’ve chosen to call ourselves COOKistas but then the way you put is funny & i dont want to change a thing. as for being ardent fans, we plead guilty. can’t blame us though, than man IS compelling. *wink*

  7. Any excuse to spread the word of David Cook is fine by me! Cookie or biscuit, chips or crisps… heaven is eating all of the above while watching/listening to David Cook lol!

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