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I have a theory that might shed some light on the issue raised by Paul Spencely (and commented upon by other contributors) on your forum regarding the Crown Prince of 11 o'clock snacks - the 'Bourbon' biscuit, and the new shape of said biscuit that mimics the 'Custard Cream'.
For so long a bastion of the biscuit world, I suspect that the Bourbon's shape has come under pressure from the bureaucrats in Brussels. Since I was a child I have revelled in the delight of the original's curious shape, intriguing carved logo and the alternative consumption methods - whether to go for the "upper lid then scrape the fondant before eating the base" option, or the "enjoy it from end to end in the more conventional plane" style. However, I was recently introduced by a colleague to the shameful design variation that threatens one of my favourite aspects of the 'Bourbon'.
I had originally put this matter down to manufacturers experimenting with different styles as part of their mystical policies of 'continued improvement'. But can it really be a coincidence that the changes to the 'Bourbon' are similar to the situation regarding Widescreen TV, which Europe finally resolved by dictating a 16:9 ratio as the standard? Not content with making our television transmissions a bizarre shape, perhaps Brussels would like to impose the curious 16:9 ratio on our biscuits. Must another of our cultural icons become the victim of Euro-compliance?
For those unaware of the travesty, I attach photographic evidence of the situation:
Exhibit A - the classic Bourbon in the wide style, the "1:2.35 Widescreen Ratio Director's Cut", if you will.
Exhibit B ('Bourbon169.JPG') - the nefarious pretender, the "16:9 European Standard Widescreen" version.
On the plus side, I can vouch for the taste of the 16:9 pretender. It is identical in texture, consistency and taste to the 1:2.35 ratio biscuit, so I suspect that it is an official item and not some dodgy grey import knock-off. It is, without doubt, a marvellous biscuit, albeit with the added confusion of which way around it should be eaten. But it just isn't right... .
I await with interest the opinions of your esteemed website and its loyal followers.
Yours with some concern,
|Nicey replies: Yes the dumpy ones are wrong.|
|Dear Mr Nicey,|
I have long intended to visit, in order to register my concern. I hope this is an area of anxiety that you share. I am convinced that in my youth the covering of the noble bourbon was whiter and crunchier, as it was replete with many granules of sugar. Today as your own web image shows one is lucky to find a half dozen grains per side. How is the mighty bourbon fallen? Denuded of sugar it rests neglected in the variety box.
The time is ripe for those of good heart and long memory to spurn self-defeating cost cutting measures and launch the deluxe bourbon - thick in filling and encrusted with a bejewelled surface of refined sugar. Yum yum.
Meanwhile the budget bourbon - more properly these days a bourmauvais - is ready to emerge sugar-less and bald to feed the profits of fat cat biscuit moguls and their heartless denizens of impropriety.
I would be grateful for a reply by return.
(borrowing my friend Richard's email while he is out, so he knows nothing of this and would be very worried if he ever found out what I have been up to with his nice pinny while he was out de-worming the geese.)
|Nicey replies: Oh yes get the sugar back on there, then you can use them as little sanding blocks maybe to take the ragged edges of your Garibaldis.
Hoorah! for the removal of goose worms.
|Hello Nicey & Wifey,|
I've been enjoying your site ever since I found it whilst searching for pictures of Bourbon biscuits. "Why?" I hear you cry, well I'll tell you. The company I work for recently decided to name its computers after biscuits, so I was making desktop icons for each one. Your site has been invaluable in providing most of the images I needed - except a jaffa cake. In the end I put a real one through my scanner.
Oddly enough, the biscuit-named computers seem to take on the character of the biscuit its named in honour of. For instance, 'BOURBON' is a solid, reliable performer that rarely lets us down, whereas 'JAFFA' seems to be a bit flakey, almost as if its having some kind of identity crisis. 'HOBNOB' is by far the fastest machine, reflecting the speed at which a packet of those rustic comestibles disappears in our office... and 'PINKWAFER'? Well lets just say that as a computer it's about as useful as the proverbial chocolate tea pot.
Right-ho anyway now I'm off to crack open another packed of custard creams - our company provides biscuits but you've got to be quick to get a decent share... leave it too late and all you're left with is the inaccurately-names 'nice' biscuits.
|Nicey replies: That sounds like a very sensible plan. I'm still scarred with the memories of of working at too many places where the computers were named after ancient gods. I think it was something that got drummed into Cambridge graduates years ago. It was a revelation when I found out computers didn't have to named Zeus, Mars etc.
I worked at a place a couple of years back where the computers were named after Aunties whose names began with the letter B, so we had Bertha, Betty, and Beryl.
I just spotted (slightly late) your news item on McVities Slices, and the fact that they recommend serving them chilled. This reminded me of a particularly nice way of eating Bourbons when the long hot lazy days of summer roll around again (and I suppose also through the miserable drizzly days of winter if you wish). Very simply, pop the bourbons into the freezer for an hour or two, and eat them like little mini choc-ices, especially good for the younger biscuit appreciator.
The chocolatey middle layer sets solid, which is surprisingly nice, however the effects on dunking characteristics are relatively un-researched at this point, perhaps a hardy soul will brave a frozen bourbon before summer and tell us how they got on, otherwise I'll get back to you in June.
Many thanks again for keeping us all sharp on biscuit related matters,
PS Can I just mention 'Tea Money'. It's not relevant I just like your kitty icon.
The idea of using Bourbons as units of measurement is fantastic and I thought you might be interested to know of a couple of such measurements;
The circumference of the Earth is 660 megabourbons (or 0.66 gigabourbons) while the distance from the Earth to the Sun is 223 gigabourbons. Even more impressive is the volume of the Earth which is 6.82 x 10 to the power of 28 cubic bourbons. That's a lot of bourbons and I for one would love to have a go at eating them.
I have to say I was a little surprised at the lukewarm review of Bourbon biscuits. I have always been a fan.
|Nicey replies: Jim,
Thanks for those fantastic Bourbon calculations they are all valuable contributions to our understanding of biscuits and their spatial relationship to our Solar system.
I'm also pleased that you were surprised by my guilty ambivalence to the brown sandwich type biscuit, I hope it was a nice surprise.