Keep your e-mails pouring in, it's good to know that there are lots of you out there with views and opinions.
To help you work out what is what, are now little icons to help you see biscuit related themes. And now you can see at a glance which are the most contested subjects via this graph (requires Flash 6.0 plugin).
Please keep your mails coming in to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you like, you can use this search thingy to find stuff that matches with any of the icons you pick, or use the fantastic free text search, Yay!
Iced VoVo Review
|Dear Nicey and Wifey,|
You've cleared up a mystery with your report of the sad demise of the Plain Hobnob. They're all over here. There's dumping going on, and whilst I shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth, how typical is that, the Poms dumping their unwanted on the colonials? I've been here 20 years and still mourn McVitie's of all kinds, but particularly Hobnobs and Rich Tea. Up until now, they've only been available (at a price, I might add) at specialist Brit supply stores. Therefore, my cup ranneth over one day recently in Coles (like Tesco), when to my great joy there on the biscuit shelf were packets galore of McVitie's Plain Hobnobs. And, Ginger Nuts. Never before seen in this particular supermarket chain. Don't get me wrong, Aussie biscuits are up there with the best - Mint Slices, Tim Tams and Iced Vo-Vos would give any British biscuit a major run for their money, but I have to say a Plain Hobnob is my all time fave. So, I had to buy a few packets. I was so thrilled I forgot to check the sell-by date, and whilst not expired, all the packets were perilously close, i.e. Jan 2007. What does this mean? Is there mass export of Plain Hobnobs to Australia to delude the British biscuit buying public that there's no call for them any more? Or, is it all a ploy to get us lot hooked only to withdraw supply and then try to foist all these new fangled flavours onto us? Either way, it's rum.
|Nicey replies: Very interesting, and also quite revealing. Perhaps UB (McVities) failed to predict that a regular customer (a large British Supermarket??) would not be re-ordering HobNobs and were left with a small mountain that they have managed to send to you guys in a deal. Nice as it is for you to get your mits on some dark choc HobNobs its not an ideal scenario food miles wise. Tim Tams being shipped to Tesco's in the UK all the way from Australia whilst the HobNobs we should see on their shelves are being sent to Australia.
Also I'm not sure about the Iced Vo-vo giving anything a run for their money, all the ones we have tried always seemed a bit like something dug out out of a collapsed building. Maybe they don't travel well.
||Hi Nicey |
I've just been introduced to your site by a good friend. Much as I enjoy it, it saddens me that I find you at such a "difficult" time. The demise of the plain chocolate hob nob has obviously hit everyone very hard indeed. While I myself have to hold my hand up and admit to no love of plain chocolate my friends grief is quite tangible. I tried to console her that it might be some sort of cynical marketing trick, much like the death and instant resurrection of Heinz Salad Cream. I fear now that I may have offered her false hope. Still chin up and thanks once again for the site.
||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.
||As if news of the impending demise of the Plain Chocolate HobNob wasn't bad enough, one must now face the fact that we are moving out of the Cream Tea Season. Living in the west country, perhaps we lockels are more sensitive than most to this time of year but the sad fact remains that with the passing of the fresh strawberry season, we now must face a sudden down-turn in cream tea uptake.|
Wifey-Darling will no doubt become quieter, virtually hibernating over winter until the daffodils and Cream Tea signs start to re-appear next spring. All I ask is that your devoted readers and well-wishers keep in mind the many who shall be suffering these coming months. Some suggest Panettone therapy, but it's not the same, it really isn't.
Here's some lovely crumbly scones Wifey-Darling made earlier this year for a do:
|Nicey replies: That really is the nicest picture of strawberry topped scones we have ever seen.|
I wish to add to the howls of protest regarding plain chocolate Hobnobs. I know Nicey, that you are not responsible for the demise of the product but Iím sure the marketing folk at McVities scrutinise your website closely and probably use it as some sort of cheap focus group.
I agree with everything you say about your opinions on the downfall of the PCH. The PCH is a unique product occupying a niche in the market that is not filled elsewhere. At a push I suspect PCH fans will resort to the plain uncoated product but I suspect few, if any, would consider the hazelnut, caramel or orange alternatives which are nouveau arrivistes lacking sublety and flavour.
I think McVities have acquired a somewhat scattergun approach of late to their products. They seem to want to stick any old topping, coating or filling on a biscuit and see if itíll fly in the marketplace. These new products may briefly grasp the attention of the public but few I doubt have the integrity and qualities of the PCH that will ensure their long-term survival in the hurly-burly world of biscuits. They are tinkering dangerously with their range, their marketing budget to get these new products recognized must be horrific and to what end? Most of them will have died away in a few years time to be replaced with some other flash-in-the-pan, gimcrack biscuit with equally transient credentials.
McVities! Sort your act out!
Can we Plain Chocolate Hobnob protesters have an icon please? Perhaps a coffin would be appropriate.
Keep up the good work.
|Nicey replies: What ever NCOTAASD is it shouldn't need to be picking through the bones of a biscuit crisis providing angst ridden feedback at this late hour. Customer service departments, and I have always heard good reports about McVities, are the main interface for listening to your customers. How a company chooses to propagate that feedback is a matter for their own creativity. Now obviously it would presumptuous of me to guess how UB works internally but any large companies I have worked for have tried to include feedback from their customer services dept in strategic planning for their product ranges. Mind you how many people felt aggrieved that they were being forced to buy Plain Chocolate HobNobs in needlessly expensive tubes and silently just switched to most probably Plain Chocolate Digestives. Its difficult to pick up on such things just by looking at run rates and listening to orders coming through from business customers unless you fully engage in a real dialogue with your customers.
Lets hope they see sense and put some back in cellophane and do some kind of promotion to grab peoples attention to the fact.
Yes you're right we need an icon.