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||Hello, I've not visited your site before, but have recently spent a few happy hours reading the book and having a giggle to myself.|
Just thought your correspondent, Gareth Williams, might like to know that when my young sister started school the first thing she had to do when she came home was eat half a packet of pink wafers dipped into luke warm, milky tea. Of course, most of them ended up in a slush at the bottom of the cup which our long-suffering mother then had to dispose of. Luckily we lived on my grandparents pig farm at the time! This was in 1963.
|Nicey replies: Thanks Lynn,
Pink Wafers sighted a year before my birth, and close to pigs, which somehow lends your account extra weight.
||Dear Nicey (and Wifey, of course),|
I don’t know if you can help, but I have a query about Pink Wafers. While I’m in no disagreement that they are indeed the spawn of Satan, I’m writing a short story, part of which is set around the 1960’s, and they’re exactly the sort of maiden-auntish biscuit I need for a spot of description. However, my problem comes in that I don’t know when the aforementioned wafers of doom were introduced. It’s probably a bit stupid of me to set part of the story in the 60’s when I wasn’t born until two decades afterwards, but most things (clothing, cars, music &c) I either know, or can find out. However, since nobody likes pink wafers, no-one appears to have taken sufficient notice of them to be able to tell me when they were first introduced… Any ideas?
|Nicey replies: Not sure exactly but wafers (and pink (carminic acid) for that matter) in general are old school biscuit technology so you'll be fine with them in the 1960s.|
I couldn't work out where the "nice" bisuits should go in your classification chart in your book. Shame really that you don't seem to mention them (shame on me if I missed a reference to them) as I and my daughter both love them (I for nostalgic reasons and she for love of new biccy's).
Please could you clarify where they fit, as they seem to have a bit of coconut, so are not a simple dunker or shortcake as far as I can tell - ut very enjoyable with a cup of tea.
|Nicey replies: Morning Dorian,
Yes its the little bit of desiccated coconut in the Nice that causes all the problems, certainly for me as historically I didn't much care for it. Personally the Nice and the Pink Wafer are my most non-favourite of biscuits, and whilst I could bring myself to talk about the pink wafer in the book I couldn't quite make it to the Nice. I do like the way Fox's call their biscuits 'Nice Tasty' though, I think that creates a lovely atmosphere on the biscuit shelf in our local high street shop which they frequent.
Having said that, I do get somewhat tense around the Nice biscuit now as my attitude to coconut in biscuits has mellowed over the years, and I suspect that I may possibly get on with them having now reached my forties. Perhaps we could make a particularly dreary documentary where a film crew arrange for me to meet a pack of Nice biscuits in a safe and supportive environment. There would be lots of phone calls back and forth for a month and a half leading up to the meeting, and on at least two occasions I would suffer some kind of emotional set back that would make me call the whole thing off. Eventually I would get talked round by Wifey using some rubbish about the YMOS being in danger of never trying a Nice biscuit. Finally the moment would arrive but I wouldn't allow the cameras in, and afterwards a slightly tearful me would say that I would be prepared to have them in the house providing they stayed in their own separate tin.
Anyhow I think they are a shortcake biscuit with coconut in them.
||Dear Nicey and Wifey,|
Although I find myself agreeing absolutely with most of your biscatorial reviews, I do think you are a tad unfair to the Nice biscuit. I find that a simple test of the popularity of a biscuit is to see which ones are left until last in the average "fancy assortment" tin. We all know:
- that the chocolate covered ones are the first to go
- that you might well have to resort to feeding the pinkie wafers to the nearest dog so that you can dispose of them (to avoid breaching the rules that requires you to finish the first layer before proceeding to the second layer)
However....my inclination would be to favour the Nice biscuits over the Bourbons (always a disappointment) or anything with icing on it.
If I find a packet of 3 Nice biscuits on a hotel bedroom's hospitality table, I think it implies that it is a respectable establishment, with no pretentions. It's not the sort of place that would have frilly-knocker blinds instead of proper curtains and there would be a bath as well as a shower.
There is a certain classiness to the pattern, convenient dunking shape, sugar distirbution and general svelteness of the Nice biscuit - not to mention that slight "coconut hit" afterwards. Also, it has stood the test of time, so it must have got something going for it. Unusually, it's one of those biscuits that I prefer without the addition of a layer of chocolate. That implies a pretty sound biscuit to me.
If you are not having a similar experience with this fine piece of confectionery, then perhaps there's some biscuit-related trauma behind your prejudice that we should know about?
PS My mother-in-law has made a pint of custard every day for my father-in-law for the past 56 years. Allowing for holidays and the odd leap year - I reckon that's at least 45 gallons a year - a staggering 2,520+ gallons over the course of their marriage. That must make her a custard expert. Although the usual brand she uses is Bird's - she confesses a partiality to custard powder purchased in Ireland. Whenever I visit Ireland i come back with a huge stash of custard powder for her. Now I know of Wifey's connection to Ireland, would you agree that this is a superior product?
|Nicey replies: Kate,
I'm not sure why I have got it in for the Nice biscuit (apart from the coconut which I don't like and its daft name), but I think its healthy to have a nemesis or two.
As for all that Custard that deserves the erecting of some sort permeant commemorative monument and possibly a small visitor centre with a coach park. We haven't bagged any Irish Custard but I've been told about it. I once did an interview on Irish radio's Ray D'arcy show whilst somebody in the studio made some which was exciting. Apparently Irish Custard Powder is made by the same people who make Birds, so maybe they make it a bit differently for Ireland or it is exactly the same and its wishful thinking. Given your Mum-in-law's experience I wouldn't like to push that last point too far.
||Hello N & W,|
You may be interested to hear of a controlled experiment conducted last weekend at the Pontardawe International Music Festival.
Over the period of the Festival an area of the Artists Reception tent was a dedicated “Nice Cup of Tea and a Sit Down” zone. This proved to be a runaway success, proving that the music business isn’t all about sex and drugs and rock ‘n roll. Anyway, imagine our amazement when the pinkie wafers were a clear first-choice favourite with a large proportion of our control group – even when included in a yummie selection containing fig rolls, jaffa cakes, jammie dodgers and other quality confectionery. As this is clearly an unexpected result, could it be that our control group of musicians, arty-farties and Festival crew was a flawed sample for this sort of specialised test? Last to go were the finger Rich Tea – despite being the most dunkable on offer. What do you make of this?
|Nicey replies: Well my first impressions are that the Pontardawe music festival is certainly a highlight in the tea and sit down calendar if not the music one. Sue Northcott mailed us to say that she knocked up a highly successful batch of Rice Krispie Cakes (Buns if your Irish) especially for the event.
As for Pink Wafers you are right to point out this unusual tendency. Perhaps it was a peer pressure thing with the most respected artist picking them first and causing a small and localised fad.