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Your e-Mails

Dennis Green

Griffin's vs McVities Ginger Nut Review
Nicey replies: Dennis,

Of course the point about Gingernuts and one of their most endearing features is how different they are between brands, and yet they are all unmistakably Gingernuts. Obviously people look for different things in different orders of importance, on their list of what makes an ideal Gingernut. Its for that reason that we have over ten reviews of different Ginger nuts/snaps/biscuits on the site, and there is plenty of scope for more.

As for Parkside that is simply Lidl's own brand. If you look at the address of their head office you'll see why. I haven't worked out where or which manufacturer makes Lidl's biscuits, but a lot of the evidence does point at Germany. However, given their EU orientated supply chain it could be just about anyplace in Europe - Germany, France, Belguim, Holland, Ireland or the UK. When I see the Parkside brand I do tend to assume that this is a product made specifically for Lidl's UK stores, and thus probably of UK origin.

We shall check out a pack next time we pass through Lidls on a fact finding mission.

David Nicholls
Nicey replies: Excellent, a military multi-role training biscuit/cake/slice. I wonder what Nelson had to do with it?

Mandy Box

McVitie's Milk Chocolate and Orange Digestive Review
Nicey replies: Yes its a strange thing isn't. McVities recent refocus on its core biscuit offerings rather than the more frilly dalliances with little bags bite size McV nonsense has seen them identify the Digestive as their No1 big brand. So the last 12 months McVities have brought us a flurry of new Digestives trying to get some extra spin of the giants that are the McVities Digestive and the McVities Milk Chocolate Digestive. Both Tesco and McVities move huge volumes of biscuits very well. The figure of 80 million pounds worth of McVities biscuits moving through Tesco each year was mentioned to me a couple of years back.

I try to sum up our book by looking at some of these sorts of issues. Essentially its a bit of a closed loop where a huge retailer takes product from a huge supplier and thus creates a situation where mono-cultures of biscuits can develop.

All both want to do really is sell you things you want to buy, and ultimately it is sales figures which determine everything. So vote with your basket. The only drawback in all of this is when you don't have many alternatives with which to vote. I'm sure it will go full circle again soon enough and we'll be getting emails about what happened to 'such and such' sort of Digestive, the weak one at the back of the herd, picked off by the wolves of lower demand. We will see in another 12 months which ones are left standing.

Liz Whiting
Nicey replies: Well we were as much in the dark about this as you, we sort of knew solvents were involved. So we asked the people who know the Tea Council, and received this very helpful reply from Bill

There are three methods used to wash caffeine out of tea, but number one of the following list is most commonly used.

  1. Di Choloromethylene (organic solvent)

  2. Ethyl Acetate (organic solvent)

  3. Super Critical Co2 (high temperature / under pressure)

All methods are governed by legal limits and of course you never get absolutely all caffeine out. There is always a residue but the industry works to a standard of 0.02g / 100g

Towards the end of the production process (about forty minutes in) but before drying, the tea is washed in an organic solvent (this procedure is common to all products that are decaffeinated) and after washing is sent to the dryer.

The entire industry takes great care to ensure that solvent residues are at fractional levels in the dry leaf when the process is completed. Every production run is rigorously tested for solvent and caffeine residues and those levels are governed by law. Extensive testing has shown that any fractional solvent residue found in the dry leaf evaporates as the scalding water is introduced to the decaffeinated tea.

I hope this helps.

Kind regards

Bill Gorman

Charlie Tomlinson
Pink Wafers

Penguin Review
Nicey replies: You won't be keen on what I said about them in our book then.