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Abbey Crunch Review
I must agree with your comments regarding Abbey Crunch. A number of years ago, my colleagues and I conducted an in depth survey on the 'dip-ability' of a broad range of buscuits. On a daily basis we would subject a different type of bisciut to a range of dips in tea (and coffee too - we were young fools!). On the instructions of the Sales Director, the white board in the sales office was deployed to display the results, and a giant grid was filled to record every aspect of each biscuit's performance. The ultimate winner of course was Abbey Crunch although there were a number of noteworthy contestants too. I must say that the bewildering array of bisciuts available nowadays would need two whiteboards to hold all of the test results. Unfortunately our work was in vain, as I put on 12 pounds in weight and the Company went out of business.
Some years previous to this, I entered in to some correspondence with United Biscuits (I think it was they). I wrote to them complaining and asking why the end two Custard Creams in a pack are ALWAYS broken, and suggested simply removing them. They would naturally be replaced by a piece of foam or similar shock-absorbing material - I suggested that they should contact NASA, as they were very good a developing new composite materials and may have already undertaken a project like this for biscuits on the space shuttle. Let's face it, reaching escape velocity from the Earth's gravitational pull would potentially shatter any biscuit and could even give a tinned cake a good shake.
I was delighted to receive a courteous reply from a gentleman called Nigel Lewis in the Customer Services Office. Although courteous, his reply failed to impress, and it seemed obvious that they planned to do little to resolve this particular issue. He also claimed that 'in-house technical expertise' would be used for packaging developments and it was 'most unlikely that they would seek NASA's assistance'. In the 20 years since, I have wasted countless Custard Creams and made a great deal of mess due to the broken end biscuits in Custard Cream packs. Are you aware of any other biscuit which suffers quite so badly from damage in transit? If the Company which I used to work for were still in business we could have done a survey.
My biscuit of the moment is Chocolate Malted Milk - yum!
|Nicey replies: The chap at McVities was probably thinking about the outcome of the digital speckle pattern interferometry program at Loughborough University. This high tech technique adapted from the aerospace industry studies of fighter wings, showed that stresses and strains caused by residual baking moisture can lead to spontaneous fracturing of the biscuits in the pack. The end two just break due to the unsupported over hang of the biscuit over the cream and wear and tear, I expect.|
Ginger Nut Review
I have long been a keen dunker of McVities Ginger Nuts, so much so that as a child I was known throughout our village as the Ginger Nut Kid and I don't even have ginger hair. For many years now my breakfast has consisted of a mug of tea, four Ginger Nuts and a fag, four months ago I managed to kick the smoking habit and as a reward I now have an extra Ginger Nut for my breakfast and feel much healthier for it.
I have just purchased your book from amazon.co.uk as a present for my partner who is expecting our third child soon and hope it will inspire her to put her feet up a bit more often as I feel she is doing too much.
Good luck with your publication and keep up the good work.
|Nicey replies: Well done on the not smoking thing, stick with it and good luck with your new member of staff.
Years ago when I gave up smoking after leaving University I turned to my childhood pastime of Origami, as a substitute. It worked very well and kept mind and hands occupied. Of course I then wound up hopelessly addicted to paper folding. I used to start climbing the walls when ever I was in one those social situation like drinks down the pub unless I got my hands on a bit of paper. Anything would do, an old shopping receipt, biscuit wrapper, or best of all leaflets. A small Origami dog, was about the same as a Silk Cut where as something complicated like a Kangaroo was worth two Rothmans, or three B&H. A really heavy night would be 3 or 4 dogs a couple of kangaroos and maybe robin.
I've managed to get the paper-folding under control now, but still indulge from time to time say after a big meal or on holiday.
I've been a bit of lurker on the site, but wondered if anyone had pointed out the recent important dunkability test in Waitrose Food illustrated magazine.
I mostly agree with its findings, but I think they have been harsh on the custard cream - a messy dunker but a delight for me.
|Nicey replies: Yes it was a good attempt by them and earned them a lot of attention in the press. Unfortunately they have made too many naive assumptions, which is highlighted by their dismissal of the Rich Tea. As a recreational skier I may find that if I hop on a pair of race tuned world cup downhill skis and take off down the mountain that I may quickly wrap myself round the nearest tree. So is the case with the Rich Tea which has been pared down for lightning fast dunk times, allowing for huge numbers of them to be seen off with a single cuppa. To the recreational dunker it may seem like a tricky customer but in the hands of a pro its a fine tuned dunking classic. The fact that they tried to dunk a giant chocolate covered finger, shows that they really were a bit clueless. None the less some nice biscuit photography and 10 out of 10 for effort.|
Ever since a young lad I have had the habit of dipping marmite toast in tea, a bit like the french dipping criossants in coffee.
Am I the only person to do this?
|Nicey replies: Quite possibly.|
||Dear Nicey and the Wife,|
Just recently stumbled across your inspirational website (where have I been for the last 3 years?)
I have a long affiliation with tea - originally being from Yorkshire it has been a staple part of my diet since I were knee-high to a grasshopper! I also briefly worked at Twinings tea shop in London (no PG Tips there though)
Although the subject of dunking is covered in magnificent depth on your site, I can find absolutely no refernce to the actual biscuits named "Dunkers" (I have no idea if they are still in production and can't remember which company manufactured them)
They were almond-shaped, roughly 10cm long and and 5cm at their widest mid-point. Obviously some research types decided that these are the ideal dunking dimensions and indeed, they fitted neatly into one's mug. They also managed to retain an unsurpassable amount of tea without crumbling.
I vaguely remember a rather dodgy TV ad for them involving a car with steamed up windows...
However, their fundamental flaw was that they tasted minging. The dominating flavour was malt - in fact it was basically Horlicks disguised as a biscuit and who in their right mind would pollute their cuppa with a hefty teaspoon of Horlicks? I'm sure even the custard cream-in-port lady dunker would have difficulty in stomaching aforementioned.
However, on the subject of bizarre dunking, the strangest by far - and not altogether unpleasant - that I have sampled is cheese.
Let me explain - as there are extenuating circumstances. It was many years ago before my tastebuds developed the refinement they now posess. I was on an aeroplane, so not a particularly nice sit down and also an environment not wholly familiar with the nuances of tea preparation. In fact, let's face it, aeroplane tea is absolutely diabolical (Although not quite as appalling as that which I encountered on a GNER train last summer - in First Class no less!).
Anyhow, we encountered a spot of turbulence during which I was unfortunate enough to drop a piece of cheese in my cuppa. Now I forget why, but instead of quickly retrieving said solid dairy mass, I let it lie. Then, (once again, inexplicably - although in my defence I was very young) I continued to sup my beverage. And then - yes, you guessed it folks - I ate the cheese (I was quite a piggy-jack porker of a kid). And you know what - it was surprisingly palatable.
Can I blame altitude sickness?
|Nicey replies: Fiona,
First congratulations on getting the dunking, cheese and airplane icons altogether, well done. Yes, those Dunkers have been mentioned to me once before, I never had them and as you elude to it doesn't appear that they are sorely missed. As for melting cheese in your tea, that is something that you have obviously come to terms with, and if by sharing it with the world it helps you work through it then we are glad to help.
As we are now officially in book plugging mode, I would like to point out that I discuss trains and planes in our sitdown section.