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Fazer Fasu Pala

Sunday 22 Jun 2003

This weeks biscuit of the week is by far and away the oddest biscuit I've ever had the privilege of sampling. Sent to us by Michael Barker a research metallurgist working in Finland, the Fasu Pala has been the pride of my biscuit collection for a couple of months since they turned up after a six week journey via post from Outokumpu Research Campus. Our recent round of media coverage has seen me pushing the Fasu Palas proudly into the lenses of several photographers and TV cameramen.

Fasu Palas are made in Finland for the Finnish home market, by Fazer now owned by Lu, but briefly part of our own United Biscuits empire. Available in a range of flavors we urged Michael to send us the most uniquely Finnish flavour which turned out to be liquorice. Apparently this is a very much a Scandinavian taste. The impressive pack looks like it draws on gothic art and heavy metal as its stylistic cues. Red and silver letters on black background, and covered in Finnish writing. The strap line at the top reads 'Maitosuklaalla Kuorrutettuja lakritsinmakuisia vohvelipaloja'. Its a wild guess that means 'Mad liquorice chocolate covered wafers', but then again it might say anything. There was also a little bit of Swedish on the pack but Michael tells me thats because some Finnish people speak Swedish, not because there is a thriving export market to Sweden.

It seemed somewhat appropriate, in a Hammer movie sort of way, that a thunder storm had gathered over NiceCupOfTeaAndASitDown headquarters as my quivering hands pulled open the precious pack. Distant claps of thunder rattled around the ever darkening summer sky, as I extracted one of the small and chocolate covered curios. Expectantly I bit off half a Fasu Pala, chewed and almost instantly started laughing like a deranged man. Yes these Fasu Pala were every bit as strange as I thought they were going to be. The wafer an intricate lattice of ribbed squares gave the biscuit a very light texture which complemented the chocolate. Sandwiched in between were two layers of what can only be described as black liquorice cream/paste. What a standard Fasu Pala tastes of I have no idea, but these tasted of liquorice.

I passed one to the Wife who has a bit of a problem with liquorice ever since she tried to induce her second labour using liquorice all sorts. Biting in she instantly went into a fit of the hic cups, and ran off to make another cup of tea. I saw off several more still giggling.

Given that Santa hails from Finland, Lapland to be precise, perhaps these are his biscuit of choice. Maybe this year rather than leaving out a mince pie you might care to try a few Fasu Palas, and if you can't get those you could always strap a few liquorice all sorts to a Tunnocks wafer and see if he goes for that.

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Bahlsen Hit

Sunday 15 Jun 2003

Its not very often that the weather influences our choice of review biscuits. Biscuit photography is best done in the open air, and given that the sun is beating down on us in the south of England chocolate biscuits are liable to melt into an unrecognisable mass in a matter of seconds. So once again the noble Choco Liebniz has had its review shelved whilst its stable mate the 'Hit' biscuit has kindly stepped in at the last minute.

John Murray amongst others emailed us to see if we knew where Lu Prince biscuits might be obtained in the UK. As we couldn't think of anybody who carries Lu biscuits we suggested the Bahlsen Hit as comparable alternative. The Hit is described in German as 'Keks mit Kakaocreme-Füllung' or even more alluringly in English as 'Biscuits with a delightful chocolate flavoured filling'.

Baked in Poland by Bahlsen in one of its very many Euro-bakeries, the Hit is a classic continental chocolate creme sandwich biscuit. Given my non exisistant grasp of either the German language or psyche, the reasons for the biscuits violent sounding 'Hit' name are but a mystery. Perhaps they passed over 'Slap', 'Thump' and 'Smack' before settling on 'Hit'.

Like most of Bahlsens range coffee springs to mind as the intended fluid for imbibing with said biscuit. However, as is our way we tried it out with tea. The raising agents are higher up on the ingredients than the skimmed milk which explains the very light and crispy nature of the two biscuit halves. With out a drink the flavour of the dark chocolate creme is lost as the biscuit claims all the moisture in your mouth. However, a slurp of tea and the chocolate flavour emerges with that distinctive bitter continental edge.

I especially enjoyed the sheet of white corrugated paper around the edge of the pack which didn't quite meet giving a strange gully down one side. It also ensured that all our Hits were intact despite having some very rough treatment in the shopping trolly from one of our younger members of staff.

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Penguin Splatz

Sunday 8 Jun 2003

Not so long ago we reviewed the Crawfords Chocolate Ring. This was a way of bringing some of the output of United Biscuits empire from Spanish bakeries to the UK market. This week we will look at the same experiment conducted on their French BN products.

Now BN who have a a history dating back to 1897 have long been known for their expertise in the sandwich biscuit arena, with the Happy Face being the best known example. Unfortunately the Happy Face has never really caught the UK biscuit eating publics attention. Then again maybe it did but we all avoided it due to the scary clown face, I know I did.

Enter the McVitie's Penguin Splatz, part of the vanguard of new Penguin products that have been coming our way this year. We made straight for the Vanilla ones because they looked nice, but there are also Chocolate and Mini Splatz to keep them company. Straight away the Splatz gives away its BN construction. The curvy star shape, the sandwich construction and the little flipper shaped holes with cream filling squidging through them are classic BN touches. A nice touch is that the number of holes varies between one and three.

The biscuit is of course chocolate flavoured and there definitely is a family resonance in the flavour of the biscuit, and yet something unfamiliar. Maybe its the addition of rye, a grain rarely encountered in biscuits. The biscuit is a very crumbly beast indeed, light and fragile with a shiny hard outer shell. You'll be very lucky indeed if your pack of 16 Splatz turns up intact despite its careful packing of corrugated cardboard. Still we liked the recyclable packaging of the Splatz which is in stark contrast to its Chucka stable mate.

If you're not familiar with the BN range then chances are you'll have never had anything like the Penguin Splatz, and that's probably a very good reason why you should give them a go.

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