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||Jeremy Thomas is not far off the mark in suggesting NASA as a possible source of biscuit protection technology. As you rightly point out, Loughborough University have invested a lot of time and effort with their digital speckle pattern interferometry research into just why a biscuit behaves like an aeroplane’s wing when stressed. The problem of cracked biscuits in an unopened pack is well-known in the industry, and as well as physical damage during transit can also be caused by the phenomenon of “checking”. This particularly affects Rich Tea biscuits, and is often brought on by a new batch of flour from a new crop being used. This results different levels of moisture migration than previous batches, and the biscuits will develop hairline cracks. This doesn’t happen until several hours after baking however, by which time the biscuits have been packed and sent to a distribution depot. The problem can be easily prevented by varying the baking temperature, but it has to be identified first – hence the speckle analysis thingie.|
Just got the book – thanks for the namecheck in the credits!
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.|
Jules Destrooper Almond Thins Review
Having previously tried a pack of the said 'finest' version of these, I have one or two observations.
Being a biscuit lover myself, I have often stuck rigorously stuck to the '3 biscuits at a time' law, however these threw a hole box of spanners in the works. Three of these did not remotely reach the satisfaction gained from three average biscuits, so starts the dilemma. Do you stick at three and go unsatisfied, instantly tanishing these as rubbish biscuits or do you dig in and eat nine, (I figure they are a third the thickness so triple your quota), however if you take nine in company, you inevitably start rumours about your dietary problems. I didn't want to dislike this biscuit because they actually taste quite good (and hold up to a good dunking), but I have to propose that they lose the 'thin' part and make a proper biscuit.
|I'm pleased to hear from Stuart that foil kit kats are still available in Canada.|
The four finger foil wrap was a masterpiece. A subtle diagonal folding technique enabled it to be wrapped with less foil than seemed possible. It's true - if you unwrapped one and tried to re-wrap it "square-on" you could never cover it completely. Your own free conjuring trick with every one! By this means the company saved a tiny portion of aluminium from every single kit kat. One suspects that this was for their financial benefit - but with the smelters running that little bit slower for all those years, the Maldives will get a few more days above sea level if the global warming doommongers are right about the CO2 and the melting ice caps and everything.
|Nicey replies: Yes it all went wrong for KitKat when they dropped the foil, when will they learn. Never mind your' white chocolate watermelon, gravy and pigeon' flavour, just put normal KitKats back into foil and stop all this uncalled for mucking about.|
||OK so I was opening a pack of biscuits this afternoon (Morrisons dark chocolate digestives if you want to know) and I noticed that the little arrows on the "tear here" strip pointed the wrong way. I checked in the cupboard and about half of the packets had them pointing the wrong direction! No matter how hard I pull that way, the thing wont open. Just wondering if you knew why.|
|Nicey replies: Gaining entry into biscuit packets by the advertised route is seldom successful. Niceties such as arrow direction are fairly low down the list when faced with packs with welded tight seams, and token little red strip thingies. Its all part of an elaborate mind game designed to make us value the contents of the pack more. It's a bit like cracking open mixed nuts at Christmas, the really tricky ones like Brazils seem to taste better than the fairly straight forward hazelnuts.|