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Tim Tam vs Penguin

Sunday 12 Jan 2003


We are kicking off 2003 with a special head to head biscuit review and one that has generated unprecedented levels of tension and excitement. The UK and Austrialia have a common cultural heritage and are for ever engaging in friendly rivalry in such areas as sport, music and blokes that taunt crocodiles, (I'm sure we could find some lads who would do that, Bez from the Happy Mondays for instance). However, there is one great area of cultural achievement in which both proud nations haven't tackled each other until now. Biscuits.

Travellers returning from the antipodes have spoken of a biscuit, the Tim Tam, remarkably similar to the Penguin and yet somehow different. Australian visitors, and cultural ambassadors to our shores have also poured scorn upon our humble Penguin, whilst performing questionable and lurid tea drinking acts with it. As we are all aware, the average Australian is a modest type, not in the habit of making overblown claims. However, they all seem confident in one thing, that the Tim Tam is a work of perfection, and not to have eaten one, is not to have truly lived. We were obviously quite keen to get hold of some. Well at long last we have a pack, a gift from the lovely Michelle from Perth, also known as Freshlegs (Michelle that is not Perth).

Ok Nicey, enough preamble, get on with it. Smaller than the Penguin proportionally lighter as well the Tim Tam feels unfamiliar. Biting in to it we were met by a very light biscuit, the Wife is reminded of the Honeycomb center of a Cadbury's Crunchie. Its certainly doesn't have the gritty texture of the Penguin. The whole colour of the Tim Tam is a warm bronze to the Penguins almost slatey grey chocolate and biscuit. And now to the flavour, well we were very impressed. The Tim Tam has a buttery richness to its chocolate and chocolate cream, I was put in mind of Galaxy chocolate.

So the verdict? Well the Tim Tam is a classy little biscuit, it tastes great and its insubstantial nature affords the sucking of tea and coffee through it by Australian songstresses, the infamous Tim Tam Slam. However, the mighty Penguin offers a more of a satisfying mouthful and its greater bulk elevates it from treat to a snack. We would suggest that there is something to learn from both biscuits and if haven't tried one or the other then seek it out. If you've tried neither then you're probably American and there we shall leave it.

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Fox's Simply Goodness Apple and Raspberry Flapjack biscuits

Sunday 5 Jan 2003


The flapjack, biscuit or cake? Well the renowned biscuit maker Fox's has added to the debate with their snappily titled 'Simply Goodness Apple & Raspberry Flapjack biscuits'. They are claiming the flapjack for the biscuit camp, but just to make sure they're sticking the word 'biscuits' on the end of the name.

The lovely thing about the simply goodness range is that the ingredients sound like things you've heard of or may even have in your larder. You won't find any partially hydrogenated vegetable oil here, you'll have to settle for butter.

Unfortunately the fruit in the form of candied apple and raspberries really failed to deliver, with the small amount of coconut in the recipe coming through ahead of the apple. The raspberries provide the occasional authentic pip to jam in your dental work, which is all very rustic. Overall we are left with a perfectly nice novelty flapjack with impeccable ingredients.

The main problem as ever with this type of product is that there are only six in the pack, so they are going to be gone before you've even started.

 

Jacob's Orange Club

Thursday 12 Dec 2002


From 1982 to 1985 the Jacobs's Orange Club was with out a doubt my favorite biscuit.

Even 20 years ago the Club was a well established brand, with its adverts featuring various cohorts of people persuing different recreational pastimes singing 'If you like a lot of chocolate on your biscuit join our club'. It was a slick and well thought through approach, and in some ways mirrored the popular culture of the time. The look and presentation of the biscuit were as important as its content, whilst the catchy tunes in the advert spoke to us directly about chocolate and its quantity in relation to its biscuit innerds. Two crisp rectangles of biscuit, a layer of orange cream between and all covered in a layer of chocolate so thick that in certain strategic places it could be bitten off in chunks. Looking like a small chocolate ingot of gold the club biscuit exuded confidence and class. Finally the whole thing was wrapped in grease proof paper with a foil outer layer and slipped in a paper tube one end of which bore the particular species of club biscuits essence be it Orange Mint or Fruit.

How times have changed. Jacob's were absorbed into Danone, a French food giant, and for reasons unknown, the Club biscuit was reduced to a mere shadow of its former self, in a fashion somewhat similar to the turning of King Posidon in the Little Mermaid into a small pale sea worm thing. The once proud boast about chocolate, that came so easily to a nation's lips, was no longer to be heard. The two biscuits were reduced to one, the biscuit became thin and insubstantial, the orange cream squatting on top of it, the chocolate of course dwindled, the gloarious packaging, which lent itself to not one but two small origami dogs, became a cellophane sachet. I was personally too distraught to bring my self to even speak the name Club biscuit for many years.

However as we reported earlier this year Jacob's have relented slightly and moved back once more to the two wrapper system. Taking this as sign of reconciliation and compromise NiceCupOfTeaAndASit down will once again speak the name of 'Club Biscuit', in the hope that we can set an example for others in thse dark times. Once again the two small origami dogs are abroad in the land.

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