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Jacob's Mikado

Wednesday 12 Feb 2003

This biscuit review very nearly didn't happen. As you may know, the Wife went on a mission to Ireland to retrieve the Mikado, and on the way back we suspect they took an unplanned trip via Innsbruck Austria. They finally arrived the next day couriered up from the airport. As we have mentioned before Jacobs operate two bakeries, one in Liverpool and the other across the Irish sea in Dublin. Despite our Mikados being bought in Ireland it was not possible to tell which side of the water they were baked.

Now there has already been some debate about Mikados and the oddity that there are two sorts of Mikado, a tall straw like affair and the marshmallow variety seen here. Whilst in France I glimpsed the tall variety in a supermarket but alas was unable to secure a packet. However, this sighting in the wild shows that there is still a bakery someplace knocking them out.

Now to the biscuit at hand. The Mikado is classically associated with children's birthday parties, where it provides a staple source of marshmallow and jam. I always have reservations about the use of coconut in biscuits which seems more of a nod towards dietary fiber content rather than flavour, however, in the Mikado the tartness of the simulated raspberry jam (its actually apple), keeps the coconut at bay. The biscuit base is quite soft, with a crunch nowhere to be found. It does manage to sport some grid like biscuit graphics, so it does appear to have some sort of mechanical properties. The pink marshmallow is arranged in two rows, five blobs in each. The jam provides us with a mystery which is quite difficult to see in our picture, but biscuit carries three blobs but arranged in a four blob central row with the second blob missing. Did our biscuits come from a faulty batch? Is this a cost cutting measure or is this deliberate?

So what is the overall effect of all of this tea time treat technology? Well its possibly the closest thing in the biscuit world to a salad. Having said that the younger members of staff destroyed their ration of review biscuits at an impressive rate and even asked nicely for more, so it appears that the Mikado has lost none of its party time magic.

Edit: Previously the Wife thought the Mikado was called a 'Kimberly Mikado', due to her memory of an Irish TV advert. In fact they are two different biscuits both members of the flagship trilogy of biscuits created by Jacob's, 'The Kimberly', 'The Mikado' and 'The Coconut Cream', all imortalised by the jingle in the advertisement shown on Irish television during the eighties "Kimberly, Mikado and Coconut Cream, someone you love, would love some Mum!". Thanks to James Thomas and others who put us right on this.

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Griffin's vs McVities Ginger Nut

Sunday 26 Jan 2003

This week we have again pitched the Northern Hemisphere against the Southern again involving a biscuit he have previously reviewed, this time way back in November 2001, the McVities Gingernut vs from New Zealand the Griffins Ginger Nut.

When we reviewed the Griffins chocolate chip cookies last year we were very impressed at their hardness, so it was with some trepidation that we approached their Gingernuts. Indeed during the review I've had to have dental work done for the first time in three years due an inlay filling suddenly working loose.

Both biscuits are pictured alongside with the McVities at the bottom. Although both biscuits are almost identical in size, which is oddly comforting, they do differ in colour somewhat. The McVities is noticeably darker brown, which is most probably due to the inclusion of molasses as opposed to Griffins use of brown sugar in their recipe. The pattern of cracks on top of the biscuits is also distinct and different, with the McVities displaying a little calm zone in the center and the Griffins having a more homogenous distribution.

Now the serious business of biting in. The McVites offers a nice hard biscuit which soon yields to give a pleasant munchy mouthful. The Griffins presents much more of a challenge. Yes we were not disappointed, the Kiwi biccy displayed enormous levels of durability. In fact if these were indeed nuts I would rate the McVites as a Pecan with the Giffins as a Brazil and a control Digestive as say a peanut shell. When the Griffins finally does succumb it offers a very satisfying munch, with the interior of the biscuit possibly not quite as hard as its outer surface.

As for flavour, well once again the molasses in the McVites play their part, as does the inclusion of some lemon oil. Overall the McVities has a rich sweetness with spicy fragrant notes from the ginger. The Griffins on the other hand has slightly simpler appeal with the Ginger playing an almost peppery flavour over the top of its less complex sweetness. Comparing the two is like putting a good Single Malt up against a fine blended Whiskey, maybe.

Once again our thanks to Fraser of Blogjam for providing the Kiwi biccies.

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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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