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McVities Digestive Cream

Sunday 14 Jul 2002

We have a friend whose Mum has a bit a special phobia. She is upset by things that don't have the correct scale, King Size Mars bars, or fun size ones deeply trouble her. So I'm betting she would run screaming from this weeks biscuit, the McVities Digestive Cream.

As noted by guest biscuit reviewer Phil, in his investigation into the weird Hill's Digestive Cream, McVities back room boffins have been working away on their own version of the digestive cream. How did they manage this feat of biscuit engineering. Well they had to dramatically scale down the size of the biscuit. Imagine if they had used full size digestives, the resulting biscuit would have been too large for those more modest biscuit eaters, and that's exactly the territory that the vanilla cream filling is pulling the whole project into.

With a diameter of a mere 45mm the McVities Digestive cream ships in a disturbingly narrow packet, made troubling to our good friends Mum, by being decked out in the standard red and yellow of its bigger and better known sibling. Holding the pack you are forced to keep adjusting its position in a futile attempt to reconcile its odd dimensions.

So Nicey what does it actually taste like? Well not too great actually. The vanilla against the biscuit puts me more in mind of food for pet rodents than it does of sublime biscuit opulence. I think there is potential here, surely the secret must lie in the cream recipe, as the Digestive can not be faulted.

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Tunnocks Tea Cake

Sunday 30 Jun 2002

When in Ireland the other week we visited the closest point to Scotland, and as we gazed out across the Irish sea towards the Mull of Kintyre, my mind turned to thoughts of Scottish fayre, of deep fried mini pizzas and Mars bars and of Tea Cakes.

The overlord of the Tea Cakes is the Tunnocks which registers a Victoria Plum, possibly a Clemetine on the fruit and nut scale of measurement, intimidating its Walnut sized competitors. While on the subject of competitors, they all seem to need intricate plastic trays to protect their puny chocolate shells, whilst the Tunnocks makes do with a bit of tin foil and cardboard box.

What really sets the Tunnocks apart from its Tea Cake brethren is its marshmallow which is based on egg white rather than gelatine. This gives it a consistency somewhere between shaving foam and bath sealant. The process that actually places this stuff on the biscuit base and then covers it in chocolate must be a miracle of biscuit engineering given the super sticky nature of the mallow. The fact that the Tea Cakes exist means that there isn't a machine somewhere Scotland buried under a mountain of proto-tea cake gunge.

Finally we must note that the Tunnocks contains no jam, which again I assume is a level of extra gunge that would push their manufacture into the realms of fantasy.

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Kimberley and Chocolate Kimberley

Sunday 16 Jun 2002

Fantastic, here we are on location in Ireland with the whole NiceCupOfTeaCupOfTeaAndASitDown staff. Several nice Guinness's and sit downs have already been enjoyed, and we look forward to frying various types of bread in lard and feasting upon it in the name of breakfast. The rain is lashing down, and any grass which isn't submerged is growing vigously, converting carbon dioxide and water into complex carbohydrates, which after passing through a cow and participating in a number of metabolic pathways may utimately contribute to the baking of a biscuit. Such a biscuit may well be the Kimberley.

Kimberley the legendary biscuit of the Emerald Isle, its reference standard being baked by Jacob's. I had been told of the importance of the Kimberley to Irish culture and the affection in which it is held. I heard of its gingery biscuits enclosing a marshmallow centre encrusted with sugar, and thought yes this is a biscuit I would like to track down and sample. So it came as some what of a shock to find that tasted a bit like rotting mdf (medium density fibre board) with a squirt of bath sealent. I paused, shocked and alarmed and gathered my taste buds, maybe they were more remanisant of digestives that had been carelessly left in the garden for week?

Still reeling I checked to see if the packet was out of date, but found that it was good for another six months at least. The locals inform me that it is the nature of the Kimberley to be variable in its texture and that I had probably got a particularly soft batch.

Undaunted I set out to find another packet, and soon happened across the rarer and slightly frowned upon by the purists, chocolate variety, again by Jacobs. The crust of sugar granuals over the edge of the marshmallow centre has been completely replaced by covering of real milk chocolate. Although not apparent from the outer box each biscuit is individually wrapped, and upon eating I was delighted to find the these extra layers of protection had given rise to a Kimberley that had a slight crumble to them and in all respects was an excellent biscuit worthy of a place on the greater world stage of biscuits.

So am I put off the standard Kimberley by this experience? No not at all, having seen this majestic biscuit its native habitat I'm determined to track down a non-fusty packet and witness this Celtic wonder in its full splendor.

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