Long before thoughts of Journal Club were floating round education was the birth of Biscuit Club. It started with a fig roll at break time.
Now. You may have already fallen into an internal debate as to whether or not you would classify a fig roll as a biscuit, and that is exactly where it all began for us (more on classification in a bit). It also turns out that the fig roll is fairly divisive. A classic that many people hadn’t tried for a while, mixed with nostalgia of ‘tea with Grandma’ or ‘the one left at the bottom of the tin’, we decided the best way to organise our feelings was to have a properly organised system of trying out biscuits. From that point on, Friday break 1 was ten minutes of designated time for SCIENCE.
To be honest, the science part is a little ropey. From the outside it may well appear that we’re just eating biscuits and writing down a score on a piece of paper but there is of course a bit more to it than that. Needless to say, our methods of data collection probably leave a lot to be desired and I don’t think we’ll be sending our results to the International Journal of Biscuit Science any time soon. This however seems to be the perfect place to display our results.
Anyone can be in Biscuit Club. We take it in turns to bring in a packet (or two) of biscuits to try. The chooser keeps their choice a secret until everyone’s there (unless something’s kicked off in school and one of us is late, or if someone’s off sick, or if someone’s off sick and someone else has to cover their break duty. Then we just get on with it and open the packet). The Great Biscuit Reveal is often met with suitable ‘Ooh’s and ‘Ahh’s before ripping into the wrapping and, without dunking, tucking into the biscuitty goodness.
What follows should be an intricate analysis of the biscuit’s make up, flavour, texture, and, to pinch the words of the Bake Off tent, ‘crumb’. By all means compare with other offerings the group has tried, and if necessary, test another one. When the serious consideration has concluded, score the biscuit out of 10. Go to decimal point if you like, that’s up to you.
Finally, record the results.
Actually, finally, decide who’s going next. Then remind that person the day before your next Biscuit Club in case they forgot.
As a group we decided right from the start that our assessment would be made without dunking the biscuit in our drinks. We felt this would be fairest as we each have a variety of drinks and for those of us that only go for a cup of water the dunk would be a bit of a disappointment. Certainly the dunk occurs with some members once a dry score has been reached – it would be abusive not to let members go with what feels natural. This is one of the reasons it’s wise to provide enough for two each. Just in case.
Our system for this is fairly simple. If there’s a significant biscuit element then it counts. So, for example, the following all count as biscuit club entries:
- GOLD bar
- Two/four-finger Kit-Kat*
- Single Twix*
*The rule for Kit-Kats etc is fairly straight forward. A two/four finger item is a biscuit (albeit a biscuit bar); a Kit-Kat Chunky is a chocolate bar. If you get them on the biscuit aisle in the supermarket and it comes in a pack with enough to do lunchboxes for a week, then we count it.
You can have your own discussions about this and make your own rules. We don’t own the way this works, but be safe in the knowledge that a Penguin will always be welcome with us.
Is it or isn’t it?
Obviously we are very grateful to the people who make Jaffa Cakes for sorting a good deal of this out for us. The basics of this are well known now and it comes down to ‘biscuits go soggy† with age; cakes go hard’. If we were only concerned with whether we were going to pay a luxury tax or not, we’d probably stop there. We aren’t though and there are some biscuits that lead to quite a discussion (including that inaugural fig roll). After some debate we are happy that the outer layer of the fig roll is indeed biscuit and we’re happy to include it in our testing. It also features in Kev’s copy of ‘Nice Cup of Tea and a Sit Down’ (Nicey and Wifey, 2004) and is, of course, a classic.
Also on the ‘is it or isn’t it’ list is the Pink Wafer. There are many who will fight to the death‡ over whether to include any sort of wafer in the biscuit category and this is fairly reasonable I suppose. I’m fairly sure wafers are in the category of being unable to maintain their crunch when left out in the air so it’s probably already decided. Our decision on this came down to a couple of things really.
- You get it in biscuit selection tins
- It opened up a whole other range of biscuits like the Kit Kat
†we don’t under any circumstances endorse the use of ‘soggy biscuits’ for biscuit clubs
‡probably not actually death. Maybe as far a slightly flustered discussion until the bell goes and we all dash off back to lessons.
Be prepared when starting a biscuit club that there will be those who righteously nibble their homemade, free-from, kale, granola bar, looking over at your group of biscuit aficionados and making all sorts of noises about how terrible it is and what a bad example you’re setting. First off, they’re jealous. Offer them a biscuit and ask for their score. Secondly, it’s one biscuit, once a week; thirdly, you’d probably have something to munch on anyway; and fourthly there are no calories in science**.