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Bahlsen Afrika

Tuesday 22 Apr 2003

Bahlsen are perhaps best known in the UK for their Choco Liebniz, a refined chocolate slab with a biscuit stuck in it. Bahlsen who were founded in Hannover, Germany in 1891, now have biscuit bakeries in several European countries but none in in the UK. As such the whole Bahlsen range is distinctively continental, which is to say it makes perhaps the most sense when viewed from over the brim of a coffee cup rather than a tea cup.

This weeks biscuit is certainly one of those aimed at a coffee drinkers. Afrikas are small square wafers entirely covered in Dark Chocolate, very dark chocolate. In fact I was forced to blow the dust of the coffee pot as I'm known to do once in a while. Maybe it was coincidence , but I actually sneezed a couple of times as I ate the first few Afrikas. Could the chocolate have been that strong? Possibly. The small sized of the Afrika (35mm x 35mm x 3mm), meant that we took the unusual step of taking a group picture.

Now we could possibly be impressed by Bahlsen claims to have the 'most advanced and largest wafer production plant in Europe' in the Barsinghausen, Germany factory (Operational 1982). We would be impressed only its wafers, which aren't anything to be impressed by.

The name is a little iffy, a wonky spelling of Africa. Is this the German spelling? I couldn't help but have Toto's nasty eighties hit 'Africa' playing in my head, sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti, I regret to say.

Still we would see the Afrika confidently taking a central role in the plate of after dinner biscuits.

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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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