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Strawberry Newton Review
|Hello, you lovely Brits. Your wonderfully amusing and informative Web site inspired me and a friend (we're Americans) to hoard biscuits on our recent visit to London. We traipsed from store to store looking for biscuits. It turned out that the best selection was a block from our hotel in the West End. A cubby of a store called Food City on the Strand had about two dozens types of biscuits, which we obligingly purchased. (The storekeeper thought us odd.) Then friend and I ventured from store to store to supplement our purchases. Back home, I've just broken into my cookie, er biscuit, stash. Now I'm tempted to eat them all by myself, instead of sharing them with my lovely co-workers, as I'd planned. Sigh. This just means I will have to return to London for more biscuits. If anyone has suggestions on which London stores have the widest biscuit selections, I would appreciate knowing for my next trip. This go-around, friend and I each left with carry-ons full of biscuits. The bellhop tried to carry my biscuit bag, but I yelped and grabbed it back. I didn't want my stash reduced to crumbs. Now I'm enjoying my biscuits with a nice cuppa. Oh joy.|
Biscuitly yours from the Silicon Valley,
|Nicey replies: Hello Maggie,
Just off off the Strand is a small Sainsburys supermarket, and just across the other side is a small Tesco's Express. Either of these would be a useful biscuit top up spot. The nearest Marks and Spencers is just up above the Strand opposite Covent Garden Tube Station. If you clean out those three you'll need to charter your own plane to get the biscuits back to California.
Last time I was in Silicon Valley I had to eat Strawberry Newtons, purchased in down town San José.
||Hi Biscuit Noshers,|
I'm delighted to have found your website, whilst searching for Peek Freans. I was trying to track down a local supplier of their digestives as I remember really liking them. I think that many of the current ones that I buy seem to lack something (Co-op own brand and might be Foxes). The Peek Freans ones are a bit better cooked and more brittle but with a lovely flavour. I recall that their dunkability is a bit limited as they are inclined to break up quickly in a mug of tea.
After my local Co-op, I usually buy my biscuits from a wonderful stall in Huddersfield's Market Hall. They have (nearly) every kind of biscuit and cheap too. You can also buy big bags of broken biscuits for something like 50p a bag. My yardstick for price is the fig roll and they sell them for just over £1 per pound weight - very good value compared to packeted ones. So, you see, biscuits don't always arrive in packets. The best value is where they bag them up by weight.
By the way, I always drink Tetley's tea from the various pound shops in Huddersfield (100bags for £1). A good brew. That means you could live on tea and biscuits for a week for just £2 (plus a bit of milk). If I fancy an exceptionally good mashing of tea, I'll get some 'Yorkshire Tea'. Dear but very good.
Keep up the good work. You are kindred spirits to me.
I'll bet that you are the non-political wing of the BCCCA.
|Nicey replies: Hello Jack,
First congrats of your website I think its lovely, I particularly liked the snickets and ginnels. I'm left wondering what use I should make of this detailed information, I feel like I have had one those intelligence briefings that operatives get before going into the field. It seems as shame not to capitalise on the fact that I now know you can get from the chemists to the bus shelter via a little path. The bridges were terrific too.
Anyhow, Peek Freans as a manufacturing company hasn't existed for years (about 20). After many take overs and mergers its brands and products passed to Jacobs who still used to bake the odd thing and label it as Peek Freans, mostly selection tins. Now Jacobs in the UK has passed to United Biscuits, (McVities/Crawfords) and we all know how many Digestives they make. Jacob's in Ireland were bought by the Fruitfeild group and still bake biscuits in Dublin. There is some cross supply between the two Jacobs for obvious reasons of economy, so some products in Ireland are baked in the UK and visa-versa. There is also a Peek Freans in Canada although I haven't been able to establish its precise connection to the original London based company set up in the 19th century. It seems logical that this was an offshoot that has gone its own way, and many of its products seem like very traditional lines indicating a branching from the parent company many years ago.
Fig rolls by the pound, wonderful.
No we are nothing to do with the BCCCA but we did pop round for a cup of tea once as we were passing by and thought we would go in and say hello.
||Patrick Thornton makes a good point about the inverted base shell of Jammie Dodgers. Long ago, the base was the other way up so that the biscuit had a nice rounded appearance. The bottom surface had a detailed relief pattern matching the design on the top. There were several styles of ‘hole’ back in those days as well as the heart – including a very tasteful Celtic Cross. The jam tended to be hard and sticky, so that after cautiously biting into it you could draw out a trail of jam linking the biscuit back to your teeth. Over time, the consistency of the jam was changed to a softer, more tooth-friendly style. The flip-side of this was that it took longer to set, and after being deposited on to the biscuit tended to run out over the edges in a sticky mess. The solution was to flip over the base biscuit before depositing the jam, so that the engraved pattern anchored the jam to the biscuit. This flip-over took place in the late 1970’s, and has remained in place through all the subsequent re-designs of the biscuit. Now, the base shell only has the relief pattern round the outside, with the centre slightly scooped out to hold the jam better, so the original cosmetic design has evolved into a functional style.|
There was a TV campaign in the early 1970’s featuring Terry Scott as “the Dodger”, with images of the original Dodgers design. Burtons frugally re-used the advert in the early 1990’s, using the same graphics but with a different voiceover, thus advertising a product that looked quite different to the ones being sold!
|Dr. Greg James
About halfway through every clinic at work, a kindly nurse will bring me a cup of tea (usually without sugar- NHS cutbacks going to far methinks). Last week, this always welcome respite from the continual stream of patients was accompanied by two biscuits. I was obviously over the moon initially, but on further investigation, my joy turned to despair.
For the proffered biscuits were the most strange and unappealing i have ever had the misfortune to encounter. Essentially they were slightly longer, thinner versions of pink wafers but WERE NOT PINK. Instead they were made of the same colourless, flavourless stuff that is used to make ice-cream cones. There was not a single speck of anything to make these more palatable- no sugar, chocolate etc. A molecule thin layer of tasteless glue held the two slices together. Has anyone else encountered these so-called "biscuits" and can anyone shed some light on them so I can warn others of their existence??
Dr. Greg James
|Nicey replies: Good grief surely such things are banned by human rights legislation.|
Jammie Dodger Review
|Having recently purchased a packet of the aforementioned biscuits, work colleagues discovered that the base level of the 'sandwich' had its patterned surface 'jam side'. Why hide this detail? Does this increase the adhesive capacity of the jam filling, offer a safer more stable 'plate status' (by using the plain side to increase the contact surface area) or, is it a mechanical error? Has anyone else noiticed this and is it replicated in the new orange dodgers? Yours, Pat|
|Nicey replies: That's a profound point you've brought up there. I've always thought the reason was two fold. First the inner pattern plays an important role in retaining the jam as it is applied in liquid form. I would like to think that Burton's have spent considerable R&D money on refining this and getting it just right, and not simply made a bit of a pattern and stuck with it unchanged for years.
Secondly the baked under surface of the biscuit is the natural surface for the final fully assembled Jammie Dodger to rest upon. This gives its most stable base and allows them to be stacked in nice little piles on plates for parties, to heights in excess of three biscuits.