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Thanks for clearing that little one up. I think that you should go on with your choice of bicky. I must say I have never been a big fan of the fig roll but I’ll be backing it all the way… Come on Australia!!
|Nicey replies: Thank you Sara,
You are very gracious. I have to say I didn't realise that Jason was actually interviewing me this morning but then I was a bit out of it as the Wife left in the middle of the night (to go on a girls weekend to Poland (she has strict instructions to bring back exotic Polish Jaffa Cakes) ) and a car alarm woke me up twice after that. Then just before waking I was having a strange dream where the girl from Big Brother who was the actress who pretended to be Australian was pinching a variety of sandwich cream biscuits from a conference room which was sited in the middle of a very busy road here in Cambridge. I think one of the biscuits might have been a form of Canadian Maple syrup biscuit, judging by the colour of its cream. I however didn't mind as I was only on my second best bicycle.
Have a nice sensible Friday and a lovely weekend.
Fig Roll Review
I appeared today on Jason manfords show for the dunk off challenge with my gingernut. Which I know is a biscuit. However, Rob came along with his Fig Roll – and won. Please do not think that I am a poor looser. I have been looking into The Fig Roll and it would seem, that, it is pastry and not biscuit, the tester being that when a biscuit goes off it goes soft and a pastry goes hard and like Jaffa Cakes they are cake and not biscuit as the pastry goes off and goes hard as do fig biscuits.
I would like to know your opinion on this and I’m sure Jason will raise it with you tomorrow when you are on the show.
|Nicey replies: Sara,
Right first off I'm not sure what the biscuits are being subjected to, but if its just a straight forward see how long they can be dunked for then that's fairly meaningless. I can think of a two biscuits that could be immersed in boiling hot tea and shrug it off as if it had never happened, but I'll keep that to myself until I've been on the show.
As for the stale thing we have to debunk that on a regular basis, as it is riddled with exceptions. Indeed the preceding message I've just posted about the Irish Kimberley shows that they have to go stale rendering them hard before non Irish people trust them. It won't do to be sniping at the Fig Roll and trying to make out that it's not a biscuit but is a cake that somehow took a wrong turn and ended up in a biscuit packet. It's actually the filling of the fig roll that gives it a resilience against the hot tea rather than its pastry outer. Feel free to debate the nature of the Fig Roll at length but be aware that French have one that starts off crunchy and goes soft when stale, which we covered in our FigFest.
As for ginger nuts I think that was a good plan, If you had gone in with a Griffins one from New Zealand you might have won.
There's been a long-term debate about whether the mighty Fig roll is either a biscuit or a cake. Whilst at University, we contacted many people who may have known the answer to this question (Dennis Wise, Ken from Coronation Street, Phil Collins) but all with no reply.
If possible, is there any way you can confirm, once and for all, the category in which the fig roll sits please? There is talk about VAT, and whether it is paid on cakes, but not biscuits, or vice versa, and there's also the argument that fig rolls go hard if left, whereas biscuits always go soft…??
We are unsure…there is divided opinion… frankly, we need expert advice, so we've come to you.
Many thanks, would really appreciate any feedback on the issue.
P.S. Your article "21st Century Fig Festival" was very interesting, informative and a revelation.
|Nicey replies: Martyn,
Thank you for your very important enquiry involving the status of fig rolls. Not to beat around the bush, the fig roll is most definitely a biscuit, and certainly not a cake.
The fig rolls going behaviour is indeed to go hard rather than soft and indeed to turn other hard biscuits around it soft. But this merely proves that this is not a hard and fast rule for determining whether something is cake or biscuit. Not only is the fig roll not the only biscuit to disobey this rule but if it were as simple as that then the whole jaffa cake fiasco would have come to a close with much more haste than it did.
Sometimes one can think so hard about something that you wind up confusing yourself, and obscuring the simple truth. I'm not at all surprised this happened to you whilst a student, as many expend prodigious amounts of mental energy on such matters, flexing their intellects, when really they should be writing essays or something. It seems as if one is using deductive logic to create a stimulating debate amongst ones peers, where as in fact one is simply racking up a student loan which will have to be paid off at some point. I remember vividly wasting hours as a student trying to get a piece of string to stand upright in a pool of molten lard inside a hollowed out sugar beet, feeling sure that I was on to something.
Here are some reasons why the fig roll is a biscuit.
It's made in biscuit factories, by biscuit companies, (Jacobs, Crawfords).
It's made using biscuit dough in addition to all that fig paste.
There are other similar items around the world that are considered biscuits in their native land, Fig Newtons, Arnotts Spicy Rolls etc.
It's one of my favourite biscuits.
|I've just stumbled across your website whilst searching for the elusive Lincoln biscuit that I miss so much but the reason behind this e-mail is to inform you of the stunning biscuit by Fox's called Malted Milk Creams. They are what the title says, two malted milk biscuits (cow, grass and all) sandwiched together by a nice layer of cream. They are so fantastic and unfortunately quite hard to find. I can only seem to get them every now and then in my local Morrsions and as far as Lincoln biscuits go I can't get them anywhere! Have they stopped doing the Lincoln biscuits?|
|Nicey replies: Yes the noble Lincolns are on their way out, although still listed on McVities web site as current product. It was announced last year that they would be discontinued in Spring 2007.
The demise of the Lincoln can be attributed to the River Eden in Cumbria, and Tescos and the others. The river burst its banks back in January 2005 and flooded United Biscuits historic factory in Carlisle causing biscuit manufacturing havoc. Many biscuits suffered including the Gingernut, Bourbon and Morning Coffee. It wasn't clear for a long time if the factory would actually fully repoen, or whether UB would take this as an opportunity to relocate.
By the time the Lincoln was back in production many large supermarkets had assumed it had gone for good and taken it out of their scheme of things. This is the kiss of death it would seem for most UB biscuits, which seem unable to survive unless they are serving a huge market place. Having said that we stopped close to Carlisle on our way to Ireland a few weeks back and in a local Spar bought a pack of Crawfords Fig Rolls. I have never seen these in a major UK supermarket and yet UB manage to keep making them without the patronage of Mr Tesco.
As for your cream filled Malted Milks they sound very useful. Fox's acquired Elkes biscuits in Uttoxeter some years ago who seem to specialise in Malted Milks and Custard Creams so I wouldn't mind betting they emanate from there.
||Hi Nicey & Wifey,|
Like other readers I am not surprised to read on your site that the much to be preferred Plain Chocolate Hobnob has been dropped. My local branch of Tesco hasn't featured it on its shelves for some time now. As a "mature" (53) biscuit eater with a "sophisticated" palate I always opt for a dark version over the milk should there be a choice. I don't see how McVities are going to get more sales if they are not going to appeal to the older consumer. Don't they realise that the population is, on the whole, getting older and they, the silver haired sophisticates that is, aren't interested in the new-fangled but prefer tried and trusted favourites? McVities are undoubtedly running a strong risk of alienating a very sizeable section of the biscuit buying - and eating - public and, moreover, one that doesn't want to be coerced into paying over the odds for a favourite comestible.
Incidentally, has anybody else found it hard to get fig rolls in Tesco? My local Tesco Extra has stopped stocking them and I could not find them at the local Tesco Superstore. Sainsbury, to their credit, had both their own brand, which were tasteless, and Jacobs ( yum, yum!). Now I don't know if my short term memory is playing up but those aforementioned Jacobs Fig Rolls had ridges on top, I believe, just like the biscuit of old. Have Jacobs gone back to the old recipe or did I enter a time-warp in that supermarket and retrieve that packet from my past? I'm going to have to return there and buy another packet to check.
|Nicey replies: Very good point about the growing grey pound, a phenomena that McVities are themselves instrumental in now that they have removed the trans-fats from their biscuits and lowered sodium.
Our local Tesco too has dramatically reduced the size of its biscuit aisle, and probably as a company Tesco have been backing away from the Plain Chocolate Hobnob all of 2006 as sales slowed. As we saw with Abbey Crunch this can now be the death knell for a previously high volume product. It's not good for consumers to have our McVities buying choices apparently dictated primarily by the combination of the biscuit buyer at Tescos and the brand managers at McVities. No doubt the two have a long list of statistics about sales and consumer trends to back up their decisions, it just seems in this case that the tube was factored out of the equation long ago when in fact it was the explanation.
Certainly when we do visit our nearest Sainsburys the biscuit aisle seems extensive, inviting, stimulating and somehow sympathetic. Wifey knows now to go and do two or three other things while I'm ensconced in there making important and considered decisions. I get a similar feeling when visiting the very large and extensive Ironmongers in town as opposed to nipping into Homebase/B&Q etc.
As for the ridges on Jacob's Fig Rolls yes they are back, although they seem to me to be not such a problem as those of old which could harbour excessive amounts of crust.