Ginger Nut (NSW)May 15, 2011 at 13:05 | Posted in biscuits | 15 Comments
Tags: Arnott's, biscuit, carbon nanotube, ginger, ginger nut, nsw, nut, tensile strength
New South Wales? That’s right. Arnott’s actually bake four different varieties of Ginger Nut that are available in different states. This is because Arnott’s used to have bakeries all over the place, and each bakery produced a slightly different product. Arnott’s subsequently consolidated all its manufacturing into one plant in NSW, and hence started shipping the NSW Ginger Nut all across Australia. The result?
Uproar. Outside of NSW people took to the streets with placards, there was looting, civil unrest – for a while it really did look as if the veneer of civilisation was slipping away from Australian society. Australians were simply not happy that someone could mess with their ginger nut. The Governor-General intervened and called for a truce, and Arnott’s agreed to continue to bake the different varieties that people were used to. And so, to this day, Arnott’s bake four different versions of the Ginger Nut and ship them to different states according to local tastes.
In a future review we shall return to this theme, and do a comparison of each of the different types. However, this review focuses on the NSW variety; and in so doing perhaps gives an inkling as to why there was such consternation when the NSW Ginger Nut hit the shelves and palates of people unused to them.
However, when you come to take a bite, you laugh. You see, someone has switched your packet of biscuits with a joke pack, and in fact these are fake ones made of wood. You put them down, still chortling, and check carefully; ask around as to who the trickster was and so on.
Then realisation dawns. These are no joke. Gingerly you try taking another bite; you hold the biscuit between your teeth and pull down in an attempt to break off a mouthful. Amazingly, despite gripping with the full extent of your jaw muscles and heaving with all your might, you are unable to get the NSW Ginger Nut to yield. You take if from your mouth and it looks completely unharmed, without so much as a scratch or an indentation from your teeth.
They really are quite extraordinary. Being of a sometimes scientific bent, your intrepid correspondent has put the NSW Ginger Nut to the test to discover just what the Ultimate Tensile Strength of Ginger Nut material is. This is done with the Three Point Flexural test. Unfortunately the the industrial flexural test rig I keep in the garage for just such occasions wasn’t working on this day, so instead I had to improvise using cocktail sticks and some heavy weights.
I rested the NSW Ginger Nut on a cocktail stick, and held it down on one side, like a see-saw with only one person on it. I then piled weights on the other side, starting with a heavy board and then adding more weight on top. By keeping the first side down, I was able to measure how much force had to be applied before the biscuit suffered brittle ultimate failure.
Amazingly, the biscuit was able to withstand forces of over 50 Newtons (represented by over 5kg of weights piled on the top). This is I think a testament to the bakers at Arnott’s; clearly this is a material that has few manufacturing flaws.
These data can then be used to calculate the strength of the material; it is given by this formula:
where x is the strength, k the cross-section area, e the force applied and lambda the coefficient of gingeryness.
The test shows that the NSW Ginger Nut has a strength of 34 MPa; below is a table comparing this to other common materials:
As you can see, this places the NSW Ginger Nut ahead of both glass and concrete, but still less strong than wood – so it seems the comparison to a wooden disc is an unfair one. Still, with a greater strength than both glass and concrete it does occur to me that rather than building skyscrapers in the conventional way, Arnott’s could simply bake them instead. Much more environmentally friendly, and who wouldn’t enjoy working in an office imbued with a lovely gingery aroma?
I do like the NSW Ginger Nut. It is a unique product that requires a sort of karate-like skill to bite into. It also dunks beautifully; there is very little danger of getting crumbs in your tea with the NSW Ginger Nut as it can withstand the hot tea almost indefinitely without affecting its structural integrity. Indeed, many people contend that this is the only way to truly enjoy them; the hot tea softening the biscuit and enhancing the flavour ‘not unlike a fine red which releases its best when decanted’ (as one of my correspondents put it). I’m going to give these an eight out of ten, plus a bonus point for being so marvellously uncompromising. No wonder the non-NSW residents of Australia rebelled when faced with such a tough opponent!