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Iced Gems Review
|You may or not be aware, that because of the associations with Huntley & Palmer Reading football club were known as the "Biscuitmen" for many years. Until that is a smart alec ad man rebranded the club's nickname to the "Royals" in order to trade on a more sophisticated? and appropriate nickname. Some of us, including the club's unofficial fanzine website "Hob Nob Anyone" remain loyal to the "Biscuits or Biscuitmen" Your site gives us lots of pleasure, as there are many parallels between football and biscuits, foreign players worldwide biscuit brands and so forth. A link would be good, please keep up the good work.|
|Nicey replies: Yes I see that you have a HobNob your URL icon on the site. Of course if I were to don my biscuit anorak I would say that the HobNob has only been linked to Reading for the last 3 years since United Biscuits (McVities) acquired Jacob's UK based business and so inherited the Huntley and Palmers brands that had previously passed to them, there by traces back to Reading. I don't suppose you fancy informally being called the Iced Gems, which would be more accurately portray the clubs local heritage?
||I read, with interest, your opinions on fig rolls - and the bake-then-cut / cut-then-bake debate. I am currently favouring Sainsbury's-own (bake then cut) complete with ridges. This delightful temptress or a biscuit has a fine dunking consistancy and is ideal as the base for my own 'chocolate coated fig rolls'. [If there was every a biscuit waiting to be made, this is it.]|
Along with the chocolate garibaldi this is my only attempt at 'home cooking'. (Although I am not exactly sure if melting-chocolate-and-coating-stuff-with-it can count as cooking). The ridges on the figrolls act as a splendid trough for the chocolate, biasing the coating to the top, and allowing for a relatively thin coating all over, yet both the fig roll and the chocolate get a look in when vying for your tastebud's attentions. [Compare the chocolate covered garibaldis - when coating only one side is all that is possible before the chocolate taste dominates].
Perhaps one day my chocolate fig rolls [fig-o-lates?] will be commercially avaialble, and cast before your expert eye/mouth. Do you know any 'Dragon's Den' style venture capitalists looking to break the biscuit market?
|Nicey replies: Aren't fig rolls terrific! Given my current diet status all fig rolls sound brilliant whatever is going on with them, so I'm in. I don't know what Theo, Duncan, Deborah, Peter and the new chap think. Duncan Bannatyne could flog them in his health clubs to people as they leave the gym.|
||Dear Nicey and the Wife,|
Once again we are well into lent and the annual argument over what is a cake and what is a biscuit is dividing the office.
Vicki has given up cake this year but not biscuits and was seen tucking into a packet of Fig Rolls over lunch.
Some of us in the office think that the moisture content of a Fig Roll places it firmly in the cake camp, while others (particularly Vicki) are adamant that it is a biscuit and can therefore stay on the menu.
Can we please have an official ruling on the subject.
|Nicey replies: Good to hear from you, but I'm genuinely surprised on your stand point on the Fig Roll. Put it this way when I want to debunk the moisture content argument as the 'is it a cake biscuit?' yardstick, I trot out the Fig Roll as an example of a classic biscuit with a high moisture content.
So I guess Vicki can continue with her guilty pleasures. Mind you maybe she could justify a giant 'pimped' fig roll on these grounds! Although it might have dire consequences for her social life and render her housebound for a few days.
Tomorrow I have four gentlemen from the plumbing, heating and electrical professions arriving to replace my boiler, radiators and pipework. I already plan to leave out supplies of robustly flavoured teabags, coffee and white sugar but what is an appropriate biscuit to leave out for them? I do not wish to appear extravagant and therefore an easy touch, but I also do not want to appear cheap. Pink wafers, I'm sure we all agree, would be highly inappropriate but what would be the right thing? Your archives suggest the plain HobNob is a good choice for builders. Does this also apply to plumbing and heating engineers?
When they visited last week to assess the job, they sounded distinctly like Yorkshiremen which adds another angle to the question as I'm in London so I guess they're down here on contract or something.
Best Wishes to you and the YMOS
|Nicey replies: Nick,
Good to hear from you again. Important to get your boiler sorted quickly and efficiently in the middle of February so I think you are right to go with the HobNob. It strikes that happy middle ground very well, but possibly a Fruit Shortcake would perform much the same. If the job looks like taking a day or two and you develop a convivial rapport then may be you could finish up with a few Penguins on the side as 'bonus'.
Of course if you are out at work whilst the tradesmen are at work then your choice of biscuit will be even more important as it is essentially part of the dialogue between you and them. A quick glance around your home will in their minds already pre-dispose you to leaving out a certain type of biscuit and you don't want to come in below or above that mark for the reasons you have outlined.
I'm sure it will be fine.
Custard Cream Review
Can you help out where McVities/United Biscuits have failed us so miserably (see below)?
We think that due to the baroque design and the required manufacturing capabilities it must be somewhere round the turn of the centaury in Northern England. Both wikipedia and Google have let us down as well you are our last hope!
Thank you for your enquiry and apologies for the delay in our reply. We have received some information from our Press Office and Brand Teams at HO, as follows; Crawford's made shortbread from the early 1900's, but unfortunately no date remains for Custard Creams.
Sorry we have been able to assist with your enquiry on this occasion.
|Nicey replies: Well we are not entirely sure, but I did take part in a TV program for ITV about the custard cream and learned a few new interesting facts.
The baroque markings are in-fact Victorian fern fronds which were in vogue in the latter half of the 19th century. The Victorians were also very keen on puddings and the new eggless Birds Custard powder introduced in the mid 19th Century was being referenced in the Custard Cream.
We believe that the Custard Cream was probably more likely Huntley & Palmers (Reading) rather than Peek Frean (Bermondsey South London) as Peek Frean claim that their first cream sandwich biscuit was the Bourbon, which seems to date more recently than the Custard Cream. Another company who dates from the same period and with a long association with the Custard Cream is Crawfords, now part of United Biscuits. Its entirely possible that it was indeed Crawfords who produced the Custard Cream, they were based in Edinburgh but opened a new factory in Liverpool in 1897. This is about the time the Bourbon was introduced (1910) which indicates that the mechanisation required to produce a sandwich cream on an industrial scale was in existence.
So none the wiser really. As you can tell from your reply from United Biscuits this stuff is not easy to discern.