First a disclaimer: this wasn’t actually the tin of biscuits I wanted to talk about. I assumed it was, but then I realised there was a complete lack of pink wafers. I assumed this must be one of these modern switch outs. Then I did a little digging and apparently the biscuit selection I so fondly remembered was in fact this:
I had no idea they were called Rover. It was simply “The Tin of Biscuits”; not The Biscuit Tin, that was just another name for The Biscuit Barrel. I tried to get a box of these to review, but they no longer appear to do them. Much like the cars of the same name.
Their tins will of course live on, in the houses of the elderly, filled with buttons, yellowing photographs, insurance documents and hoarded incandescent lightbulbs “because these energy savers are SO dark!”.
So Family Circle it shall be. It must also be stated that they’re not even a tin any more. I’m pretty certain they went through an interim period of using plastic and now we’re on a very thin and basic cardstock. In terms of sustainability I can’t fault this trend in the slightest; from a point of trying to have a nostalgic experience however, this is utterly lacklustre.
The compensation for this is that both layers are individually foil wrapped, so there’s even less of a chance of sneaking into the lower section to nick the best ones. “We only start that after the top layer is finished!” If you didn’t have this rule in your house… I hate you… you burrowing gannet.
Anyway I’m not disappointed to be doing McVitie’s, except for the lack of pink wafers. Though if I internally rename those to Cochineal Crispies or Beetle Biscotti that disappointment lessens significantly.
McVitie’s is a name that sounds like a biscuit in and of itself. Go on, say it with me now: “McVitie’s” – it’s got that onomatopoeic crunch and a sense of rolled oats and sugar about it. Such is the deep rooted association between name and biscuit that if I ever met somebody called McVitie I’d probably bite them.
So he we go, all in their own little moulded sections:
It says a lot about where I chose to start my “Tour du Cercle de Famille” – in comedy they say start with your second best gag end with your best. My eyes are set clearly on a Chocolate Digestive finish but this sweet oatie disc drew me like the meme crowd to a moth. It has been many years since I’ve indulged the biscuits of my youth, but my memories for this were nothing but the fondest. I remember well them being released in the mid-eighties, trying them for a first time at my gran’s. Sweet, crumbling, hearty and slightly chewy. A love affair with the oat biscuit that remains with me to this day, though expressed through their ascended form: the oatmeal raisin cookie (one word and I’ll fucking cut you).
So biting into this first would be the perfect inaugural step backwards some 35 years. They’re a hell of a lot crisper than they used to be! The intervening time and subsequent advances in sealing technology were apparent from the off. Not objectionable, this is clearly fresher, though looking back it must be considered: was all our food just a bit soggier in the 80s? I well recall taking some time to adjust to foil bags of crisps as well. I feel a bit like a sailor who’s complaining he misses the weevils.
But yes, I love me a Hob Nob, the fact they now shatter on teeth contact I’ll take as a mark of improved quality.
How fast would they go? Apparently one of the nation’s favourites, these beggars are going like a shot.
Except it’s not, this is obviously the Mandela effect at work as I could have sworn this box contained everyone’s favourite overrated sandwich biscuit that sounds like he’s best mates with Dennis the Menace. This was in fact a Jam Sandwich Cream, a utilitarian moniker if there ever was one. It’s jam and cream sandwiched betwixt two pieces of shortbread. One has a hole so you can imagine it’s called Jammy Dodger and you’re actually having antisocial adventures with the Bash Street Kids.
Though looking it up now, the hole in a Jammy Dodger is heart shaped. Was it always a heart? Or was I always eating Jam Sandwich Creams and never knew any better? Was I lied to? Doesn’t much matter anyway as neither were in this box it was in fact a Happy Face, so the Jammy Dodger folks probably threatened to sue or something. It’s the same composition, it just grins at you like an idiot as you bite it. Two biscuits in and I’m having an existential crisis.
And the jam in these things is like what congeals around the rim of the jar; it’s oddly stiff and chewy for jam.
How fast would they go? Fast, even though they’ve no chocolate on them so they’re safe until those ones have gone. It does have both jam and cream and is the only one with a face, so it’s a bit special. Likely these would disappear in the second pass. Also they do have a face on each side, like a politician.
Rich Highland Shortie
What is Jeanette Crankie’s net worth these days? More than shortbread that looks like a weapon from Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors I would have thought. It’s got an oddly lethal look about it, curved serrated edges giving it the appearance that it might spin up at any moment and win Robot Wars. You might be tempted to throw it across the room to see it fly like that five bladed thing from Krull. Don’t do that though, you’ll just get a telling off from your dad and you’ll have to pull the Hoover out to get all the crumbs.
So it’s shortbread, what else can you say? I can say that I quite like shortbread and it won my heart when I was given a miniature pack in Tartan wrapping on a trip to Ireland. Thinking they looked very sophisticated and well presented. Thick, golden and encrusted with sugar. Those were lovely and I’m still rather partial. This crumbly wheel of death, on the other hand, is average at best.
How fast would they go? Not very, these will be kicking around right to the end. Probably with finger marks on them from where they’ve been picked up and put back, while tutting.
Worthy of note is the fact that on the packaging this is shoving its way in front of the shortbread, plenty of room for everyone but this bugger has photobombed the less popular shite. Good.
I really wasn’t looking forward to this, I have very negative recollections of these. They’re chocolate but they’re not nice, a mind breaking oddity for a child. Like their Cadbury named-alike Bournville this is dark chocolate, hence not generally child-palette friendly. What do I now think of this “naked Penguin”? Being so much older, my tastes more sophisticated, I found this to be cocoa rich and very pleasant. I have of course experienced something of a palette shift over the years, as I’ve gradually increased the strength of the coffee I drink to the point where you have to stir it rather quickly before the spoon dissolves.
This is like having a cup of strong cocoa in solid form and stands as a great example of inverted nostalgia where things are BETTER than you remember them being.
How fast would they go? These always rattle around for a fair while, in our house often being left till last. At which point they’d be relegated to the biscuit barrel to rub shoulders with unloved rich tea and get infected with Ginger Nut disease. Leave any biscuits in a barrel with even a single Ginger Nut for any length of time and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.
Well bloody hell, really shouldn’t have blown all my shortbread stories so fast should I? This is the same shit in a different shape and Bourbon’s bitch. They’re okay, the shape is pedestrian and I don’t know they probably fit in your mug of tea better than the stabby one. Can’t think of much on this, it is so very plain. So here’s a Bourbon doing what they do best.
How fast would they go? These are probably going on the bird table somewhere down the line.
The significance of this biscuit to me growing up can’t be understated; as odd as it might sound this is what I, for many years, considered to be a plain and dull biscuit. This was due to the fact that it was simply all we had, for absolutely ages. Whether it was a matter that they were the cheapest Yellow Label available from Fine Fare or we had a job lot of them dropped off into the coal bunker in ’81 and then slowly spent the next five years working through them I’m not entirely sure.
Either way, this was all I knew, there was no variety in the barrel in those days. So it’s with no small resentment that I have dealt with them ever thereafter. Probably nothing wrong with these in and of themselves, but neither my mind nor tongue have forgotten those long years of drudgery.
We did once get a variety pack of Custard’s other Cream cousins, Orange, Coconut and Chocolate. All four varieties on one central theme, like a WWF Survivor Series team with Custard as their captain. They can face Death Wheel Shortbread and all fucking die.
How fast would they go? Well I’m not bloody having them for a start.
Choc Chip Cookie
A distinctly American entry here, immediately defining itself as being separate from the rest of the bunch: it’s a cookie rather than a biscuit. These weren’t knocking around in the Rover tin, that’s for certain and nothing such like. In the 80s the chocolate chip cookie was about as real as Twinkies and oatmeal. Fantasy foods from the land of fire hydrants and the letter “zee”. It was what they ate in Hollywood, obviously, and what American school children had on their yellow buses as they went to their terrifying schools with miles of identical lockers.
The first time I tried one over here my anticipation was equalled only by my disappointment as they were a dreadfully dry and almost bitter affair. A poor British imitation of the beloved US institution clearly. So I continued to lust after those portrayed on screen and generally give our effort a wide berth.
How fast would they go? Chocolate is always a plus so they’re near the front of the cue technically. But people soon get wise to them so they might hang around for a while.
Let’s all argue about how to pronounce the foreign word! Well you can; in the meantime I’m going to be nabbing the chocolate covered ones and you’ll be left with these undersized sugar coated disappointments. The chocolate covered Nice biscuit (alas not present) was something of a delicacy to me in the 80s and I would indulge in two of them with a glass of milk every morning after breakfast. Some kids had a Ready Brek glow, I had gout.
How fast would they go? Faster if you put them out with a cup of tea for guests who you don’t much like.
This is no delicate Cadbury Chocolate Finger, which is barely a girl’s pinky in the scheme of things, no, this a solid, roughhewn builder’s middle finger. The chocolate coating of course can’t compare to Cadbury purple draped delicate digits, but it must said the biscuit interior is somewhat more interesting. These are great, can’t really fault them. Coat a biscuit in chocolate and you’re immediately elevated above the rank and file of unwashed shortbread. Didn’t have these years ago, so nothing to compare to that way, but they’re a mighty fine biscuit in their own right.
How fast would they go? As one of only two chocolate coated biscuits in the tin you can bet your life that if you’re not there when it’s opened (or you’ve got a nice family member who’ll save you one) there won’t even be crumbs by the end of the day.
We make our way, finally, to the centre of the box. Sitting proudly atop A FUCKING PEDESTAL! Propped up to make it look like there’s more. There are only two of these buggers per layer, cheek.
Ordinary Digestives are the workhorse of the biscuit trade, filler of barrels and gluttonous gobs the country over. Year round you can enjoy a Digestive, well you can make do with one. But we all know it’s not a finished article. It’s naked. Smear it in chocolate in that delightful square pattern then we’re talking. Once dressed the general sweet wheatiness of the Digestive is magically transformed to a perfect balance of velvety smoothness. There is some ambiguity to its naturist counterpart; it’s certainly sweet but I’ve also seen it turn up in “Biscuits for Cheese”. Get the chocolate on there and you’re squarely in the dessert biscuit category. Yeah, by “dessert biscuit” that means after a meal… or with a cup of tea… or as a reward for being good and having a piece of fruit… or just whenever you happen to pass the packet.
How fast would they go? Only two per layer and they’re chocolate, they’ve already gone while you were reading this.
Despite talking about biscuits for over 2000 words and that they might have been soggy, note I’ve not taken the easy road and made the obvious gag about it. Let’s take a moment to celebrate that. I deserve a biscuit.