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Griffin's Candy Squiggles

Saturday 5 Apr 2003

Well this is our last pack of biscuits from New Zealand and we have been very impressed so far with everything we have had the fortune of sampling from Griffins. We left the Candy Squiggles till last as they seemed to be the most fluffy and frivolous.

However, Griffins didn't disappoint, the Candy Squiqqle proved quite substantial. Comprising of a fairly light textured biscuit base with a generous amount of chocolate on top into which are embedded candy nuggets. The whole lot is covered in a final coat of chocolate with pink strawberry chocolate squiggles on top.

The strawberry squiggles are actually fairly effective as the whole pack had pleasant strawberry aroma upon opening, putting me in mind of Pink Panther chocolate bars circa 1975. The candy nuggets in either pink, green or yellow where textured somewhat like a dense honeycomb from a Crunchy bar. Obviously these things are packing a big sugar rush and I found three proved about right for a cup of tea.

Needless to say the younger members of staff polished off the last few in very short order regardless of my protestations that these biscuits were from the other side of the planet. Once again thanks to Fraser of Blogjam for the Kiwi biscuits and happy birthday!.


McVitie's Lyles Creams

Monday 31 Mar 2003

We were beside ourselves with excitement to have a scoop review on these brand new biscuits from McVities, with our review packs coming directly from McVities clad in bubble wrap, Hoorah! Not only that but the mighty McVities have teamed up with the definitive name in treacle, Lyles, to create McVitie's Lyle's Golden Syrup Creams and Black Treacle Creams. We are told the packs should be hitting the shelves of shops across the UK soon.

You know I'm not even sure if anybody else even bothers to make golden syrup or black treacle, thats how definitive Lyle's are. Lyles have been making Golden Syrup since 1881 and the biscuit packs sport Lyle's logo which is a dead lion with bees swarming around it. Apparently they have chosen to make a nest inside its carcass. Excellent. Underneath is written 'Out of the strong came forth sweetness'. We have Samson of long hair and temple knocking down fame to thank for that line. As an adult my Mum was very disappointed to find out, that dead lions are not in fact an integral part of the production of Golden Syrup. As tins of peaches had peaches on them and tins of Golden Syrup had dead lions on them it all seemed quite logical. She never even concerned herself with imagining what exactly would have been taking place at the factory to produce syrup on an industrial scale.

So what exactly is the result of all this know how? Well McVities are rather hoping that with these new biscuits they can challenge the impressive Fox's Crunch Creams which have made the cream filled sandwich biscuit market their own. I'm glad to say that McVities have stayed true to their roots as these biscuits feature rolled oats and hark back to the sublime Abbey Crunch whose decline from prominence is bemoaned by this site. Both varieties certainly taste of their Lyle's ingredients although not overly so. The cream middle is more of a specialised icing, and if I interpret the ingredients correctly consists mainly of lactose, or milk sugar. With a diameter of a mere 45mm these little biscuits put up a good fight for something thats gone in couple of mouthfuls, due I would say to their sheer calorific value. But then you can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs.

I was intrigued to see that these brand new biscuits, never glimpsed before by the biscuit buying public had a best before date of 6th Sep 03. This got me thinking how do McVities or any other manufacturer, know that date for a new product? After inventing an awsome new biscuit do they then make a load of packs then keep opening one every day until they start to go a bit wonky? That could take months. What if you made something that didn't really go off or was all ready essentially off, like Marmite, you could be waiting for years before you knew what to print on the pack as a best before date. Maybe that's why the shops aren't filled with Tinned-Salted-Freeze-dried-Frozen-Pickeled-Gamma-iradiated stuff, as none of it has gone off yet and they have been able to release the products. Anyhow there is little chance of any of our packs making it to next week let alone September.

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Sarah Nelson's Gingerbread

Tuesday 18 Mar 2003

My friend Mark who hails from Cumbria has a very sweet tooth indeed which he has always attributed to his Mum's excellent cooking and large repertoire of puddings and cakes. Since getting hold of our review pack of Sarah Nelson's Gingerbread from Grasmere in the heart of lakeland I've started to feel there could be other forces at work.

Matt Roxburgh mailed us to tell us about Sarah Nelson's Gingerbread, and as they have a webstore we thought it might be interesting to review it. Apparently baked in Grasmere since 1854 when Sarah Nelson started knocking out this strange slab of gingery sweetness on a tree stump outside of her tiny church cottage. The blurb on the accompanying card is as syrupy as the recipe which we are told is locked away in the vault of the local NatWest bank. It goes on to say 'Baked fresh every day, Grasmere Gingerbread's intoxicating, spicy aroma - a true "sense sublime" as Wordsworth might have described it'. Well he might of, had he not died four years earlier.

Now the Lake district with its beautiful scenery is one of the UK's prime tourist regions. This week's tea time treat which describes itself as a cross between a biscuit and a cake is very much is a product of this industry. Rather than spend our dosh in the tea rooms of Cumbria, we opted instead to order our Gingerbread over the internet from their website. It arrived two days later in a large cardboard box, and protected by an inner casing of polystyrene inside which was our 12 pieces of Gingerbread wrapped in a sheet of greaseproof paper and bearing a picture of the cottage with legend 'None genuine without Trade Mark'. Well they might have a point with that bit as half of Grasmere apparently knocks out Gingerbread.

So Nicey is it any good? Well now we approach my opening point this is not bread, its not cake its not really a biscuit, it's confectionary. Much as Kendal Mint cake, that other Cumbrian delicacy, is not a cake at all but a giant peppermint, Sarah Nelson's gingerbread is a hard leathery ginger toffee of a biscuit. As if to throw us off the scent the whole lot seems although its been dropped into a tray of its own ground down crumbs, not a terribly pleasant outer texture I have to say. The packaging is at great pains to point out that the gingerbread may be refreshed and softened by popping it in an oven, presumably this is how the punters in Grasmere experience their Gingerbread. We didn't get round to it.

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