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Iced VoVo

Monday 23 Aug 2004

This really wasn't meant to be a the Iced VoVo but rather the Griffin's Toffeepop, so that we could do a clever compare and contrast to the previous biscuit of the week the Burton's Toffypop. However, through no fault of their own the entirely chocolate covered biccys from NZ had managed to melt themselves together and so were not looking at their best. So swiftly I moved to next in reserve the Iced VoVo a biscuit I have been meaning to grapple with for quite some time. Lets be realistic, yet again its got a silly name which is basically a red rag to a bull when it comes to biscuit reviewing.

So here we are with another Australian classic from Arnott's, and its one of those that the Aussies like refer to when ever the subject turns to jam and marshmallow. As you see from the pack it is doing sterling work keeping alive the 'My little pony' school of design in the sphere of biscuits, with strong use of vivid pink, gold and fairy dust sprinkles. If you have just spent the morning breaking rocks in the sun with an enormous hammer then the Iced VoVo is not going to be near the top of your biscuit list. Mind you if on the other hand you have been busy simulating a gymkhana in your bedroom some where in the Great Southern land then its a no brainer.

So how does the biscuit stand up to scrutiny? Well first of all they are not the same sort of thing as our Jacob's Mallows/Mikados which is more than evident when the pack is opened as they are tightly packed into a single plastic tray, resting on their sides. This speaks volumes about the biscuit base and its topping. The biscuit is something like a richly golden Marie in texture and appearance, and 45mm by 60mm is about 18% wider than the Jacob's. The frilly detailing and edging mean that this is quite a precise bit of baking. It also means that it can take a certain amount of abuse which would see the soft based Jacob's crumbling.

The topping is comprised of two outer lines of pale pink icing, an inner line of raspberry-ish jam (there is some raspberry content). The outer icing stuff is evidently an transitionary form between icing and marshmallow, and is perhaps closest to the stuff that pink shrimp sweets are made from. Now I can't be entirely sure about this as the Iced VoVos shared a ride with the afore mentioned Toffeepops so simply they may be a bit worse for wear. Then again this might be a true and accurate representation, and there is that silly name to take account of. If these are indeed Iced Vovos then the stuff on top must be icing and as such not as fluffy as marshmallow.

So to the all too obvious final point, what is a VoVo. Obviously there is one in here as they had to ice it to make these. My Aunty Shelia, a Londoner, always finds exotic foreign sounding names tricky to pronounce and so would usually string a few extra sylables in or subtitute the end of the word for an 'AH'. I remember it was somewhat embarresing and confusing when her friend June got a new Volvo. It took a few seconds to establish that she hadn't had a very delicate operation but had bought a car.

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Friday 30 Jul 2004

Whilst in Ireland the other week we couldn't help but notice the abundance of Burton's ToffyPops a biscuit which is becoming ever more scarce in its native UK. The first packet I obtained for review purposes lasted about thirty five seconds once I had given the 'Its OK I've taken the picture' signal. This left me with a solitary Toffypop, a bisected one at that, with which to carry out the review. I could have bluffed my way through it, but such is the rigour of the NCOTAASD review process I had no option but to go out and buy a second pack.

Its easy to see why the first batch took such a battering, as there are a mere ten Toffypops (name trademarked by the way) to a pack. At 50mm across 10 mm deep the Toffypop seems quite dainty. of course any small biscuit that is also carrying around 32% toffee and 13% Milk chocolate, is going to have a great deal of trouble fending for itself. The biscuit base is somewhat like a sponge flan case in cross section, although the biscuit itself probably has more in-common with its stable mate the Jammie Dodger. However, the base seemed to be slightly more crunchy than its jammy sibling. I measured the toffee well at approximately 3mm deep which certainly allows for enough toffee for it to make its presence known. It would probably be more accurate to classify the toffee as soft caramel and it readily forms dangly stringy bits as you bite lumps out of your biscuit.

The pack shows with some degree of artistic license bisected toffypops with toffee oozing from them. The biscuits afford just enough toffee to the eater for us to overlook this rather glamourised artificial reality. The ingredients list condensed milk which no doubt is used to make the toffee, much in the way its is used in bannoffee pie, or as we have learnt various Latin American biscuits (see your reviews section). The other interesting fact to be gleaned from the pack is where Toffypops have been hiding apart from Irish supermarkets. Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Spain all seem to be receiving shipments of these tasty little biscuits, whilst in the UK their habitat seems to be mostly confined to the Spar, although I haven't looked in a Coop for them. Much the same sort of thing happened to the range of Neanderthal man at the end of the last ice age 13,000 years ago. Of course they didn't all end up in the local Spar as it hadn't been invented, nor could they get cheap flights to Ireland.

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Coconut Cream

Saturday 17 Jul 2004

Well here we are sitting on the sofa in our very nice holiday house somewhere on the west coast of Ireland. The weather this week has been fantastic. In fact it was so temperate on Tuesday that we heard on the radio that a lady in Limerick had opened her kitchen window. However, its not all been waltzing around this week clad only in two layers of clothing, no there has been serious biscuit reviewing to be done. As I mentioned in the news section there is one glaring omission in my Irish biscuit knowledge and that is Jacob's Coconut Cream.

The coconut cream forms a biscuit trinity along with the Mikado and Kimberly, both of which we have previously reviewed. Now for some time now I have been made aware by Wifey and others of Irish blood of the TV advertising for these three biscuits, which has the jingle "Kimberley, Mikado and Coconut Cream, somebody you love would love some too". That may well be lyrically incorrect, and I've just checked with Wifey who is semi lashed up on Chardonnay and trying to finish a book before we leave tomorrow and has just given me three different versions. Anyhow, I was obviously far more excited than is strictly necessary when last night I witnessed on RTÉ2 a 21st century version of that hallowed advert. Not only was that thrill enough, but the advert also imparted two vital bits of information. The first was that all these biscuits are meant to be soft. The advert featured this as a key message with 'work hard', 'play hard' accompanied by suitable imagery of welding and rugby (again I may be wrong, I only saw it the once) and then 'eat soft' with pictures of people scoffing the biscuits. Now of course I've always known that the biscuit in Kimberley's was soft, I also knew it was soft in the Mikado, but I never really fully took it on board. However when faced with the last piece of the puzzle, it all clicked into place. The coconut cream's base was apart from shape and decoration was indistinguishable from that of the Mikado. Somewhere, however its carrying a small amount of lemon oil like the Kimberly and so could be providing a link between the other two biscuits. Two coconut creams left out over night from the photo shoot indeed hardened which by most people's crude jaffa cake metrics would make them cakes. This of course reminds us all that for every rule there are always exceptions, and that we should not be in search of miracle directives when trying to draw arbitrary boundaries around biscuits and cakes. It also means that I shouldn't have left the biscuits out overnight.

I suppose the very first thing that I wanted to know about the coconut cream was 'where is the cream?'. Well after dispatching six or seven I'm none the wiser, there isn't any. They taste as creamy as anything else made from biscuit and marshmallow, which is not that creamy at all. So it must be some form of poetic license and probably a more evocative name than 'coconut thing'. Pity it evokes images of cream, which as I have said is completely absent.

As to what they taste like I found myself simply missing the jam from the Mikado so I followed them up with one one and found I experienced heightened jam awareness, which I took to be a good thing. I slightly enjoyed the choice of pink or white mallow on the biscuits almost as much as I liked the 2 packs of the classic threesome for two euros offer in the local supermarket.

And now for the second bit of important information apparently there are now two extra biscuits in the range. What they are I couldn't say as I was already hopelessly over stimulated by biscuit unfamiliar biscuit advertising. Despite keeping my eyes peeled in several shops I have failed to spot these two newcomers which have now effectively moved me two steps back for my one forward.

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