Wagon Wheel Double Choc

July 26, 2011 at 12:30 | Posted in biscuits | 1 Comment
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Here’s a thing you might not know about Wagon Wheels. You can’t flush them down the toilet. I know this because when my mother was small, she was given a Wagon Wheel at a party, and she was too polite to say that she didn’t like them at all. So she took it, and them attempted to dispose of it by flushing it away. Flush after frantic flush, the Wagon Wheel kept floating back into view in the bowl, as my mother attempted to hide the evidence of her ingratitude.

I never did find out what happened in the end, but evidently it scarred her for life, as she never bought Wagon Wheels for us when we were kids.

Nowadays, there are more varieties on offer, of course – such as Mini Wagon Wheels, and the Double Choc version – which we shall look at here. I have not looked at the flushability of the modern Wagon Wheel, however, as it seemed like the waste of a rather good biscuit, so apologies if you were hoping to see a video re-enactment of my mother’s shame.

The Double Choc moniker is actually quite understated, and shows admirable restraint on the part of Arnott’s biscuiteers. For the Double Choc Wagon Wheel contains no less than four choc components – the chocolate-flavour coating, choc marshmallow, a thin scrape of choc fudge and, to top it off, choc flavoured biscuits. Perhaps Arnott’s should re-launch them as ‘Quadruple Choc’.

The ‘choc’ part is important, as no self-respecting Wagon Wheel contains any actual chocolate. No, as the pack proudly proclaims, they are legendary since 1952, and back in those days chocolate hadn’t been invented – so instead various other substances were used to create the chocolate flavour.

However, the Double Choc version of the Wagon Wheel is quite different to its conventional brethren. The regular one is a symphony of choc flavour, stale biscuit, weird mallow stuff and artificial jam – and is really exceptionally good. The Double Choc one, however, is quite different. The biscuit is far more crunchy, and the mallow more conventional. And they really do taste chocolatey – a bit like a chocolate desert, perhaps one of those ‘death by chocolate’ things you get in low-class eateries.

It’s not really what you expect, but it is quite good – the spirit of Wagon Wheel still shines through, but the Double Choc version stands tall, delivering its own, modern interpretation of Wagon Wheel-ness. I’m going to give these seven out of ten.

There’s no such thing as bad weather…

July 21, 2011 at 20:56 | Posted in bicycles | Leave a comment
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…only the wrong shoes, as I found out today. Decked out in head to toe GoreTex, I braved Sydney’s wettest seventy-two hours for sixty-nine years to cycle into the city to meet someone. (I do love the way the SMH manages to find some sort of weather record virtually every single day. Things like ”The most rain on a day following a dry day during a week when the wind only blew in a southerly direction since 1972!‘ All good stuff – if there’s one things that has survived from the colonial days it is the oh-so-British obsession with the weather.)

I was wearing my walking boots, as I thought they would be waterproof, but alas they were not. Or rather, they boots themselves were, but the action of pedalling caused a gap to appear around my ankles – a gap into which large quantities of water flowed, neatly directed off my waterproof over-trousers. There weren’t many other cyclists out there tonight, but I did see one who perhaps had a better idea – he was wearing board shorts and Crocs. I guess if your feet are going to get wet anyway, you might as well have shoes that allow the water to flow out, as opposed my my boots which gradually filled up with water. By the time I got home I was carrying my two own private puddles around with me – squelch squelch squelch.

Notwithstanding my wet feet, the rest of me was warm and dry, and I did get a certain satisfaction cruising along, feeling very superior to the pedestrians scuttling along huddled under umbrellas and motorists enduring the inevitable gridlock that seems to accompany wet weather.

Whilst I was (mostly) waterproof, however, my bike lights were not. This is a bug-bear of mine. I have two lights on the back of the Radish, both reasonably expensive affairs from reputable bike shops, and both of which claim to be ‘waterproof’. Well, they are not. Take them out in wet weather, and water finds its way into the contacts. This causes them to switch on and off at random. It was frustrating enough to get back to my bike (which had been parked outside in the rain) to find one of the lights had evidently been on all day and the battery had gone flat. However, it was rather more concerning to arrive home and find that one of them had switched itself off during the journey, and the other had gone from solid to flashing mode. I don’t really want to be riding along in the dark with no tail lights in this kind of weather. Can anyone suggest a genuinely waterproof option?

Half Chocolate Coated Tiny Teddy

July 18, 2011 at 22:08 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment
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There is, it seems, a tiny teddy bear appreciation society. Whether an Arnott’s employee was a member or not it unclear, but apparently a biscuiteer at the firm had the bright idea of shrinking the regular Teddy Bear biscuit down to miniature size.

However, they obviously decided to lose the ‘homicidal folk dancer’ character and instead introduced six new ones – Happy, Sleepy, Grumpy, Cheeky, Silly and Cheesy. It’s not immediately clear, without the legend on the box, which character is which, although the faint cheddar flavour gives Cheesy away every time. It’s been a while since we have a competition, so the first person to correctly identify the three characters pictured below wins a box of these biscuits.

These Tiny Teddies are half coated in milk chocolate, and you get seventy two teddies in a box – that’s a fair few teddies to chomp through.

They are quite good – crunchy and moreish. Just take care as the fur gets stuck in your teeth. I’m going to give these a seven out of ten.

Sultana Fruit Slice

July 10, 2011 at 14:17 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment
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The Snack Right Sultana Fruit Slice. A biscuit that reminds us of Italian feats of derring do; of swashbuckling adventures on the high seas, a handsome hero entering into battle and overthrowing tyrannical monarchies, stealing the hearts of beautiful women along the way and being feted by society figures across the world.

You don’t get all of that? Well, you should, as the Snack Right Sultana Fruit Slice is a Garibaldi biscuit, plain and simple. I don’t know why the Garibaldi name never caught on in Australia, but the combination of lots of sultanas squashed between two layers of soft biscuit is a classic, right down to the large slabs it comes in, with each slab being marked into five pieces for home disassembly.

The strange thing about this biscuit is that Arnott’s make another very similar product, but one that is not marked as ‘Snack Right’. Kind of  ‘Snack Wrong’, if you will. And indeed, the Snack Right product is the better of the two; juicier sultanas, a more structured, moreish biscuit and it seems better for you too.

Go and grab a red cape and sword and give them a go. They are really rather good. I’m going to give these a nine out of ten. (And don’t miss the chocolate coated version either).


Mudguards, bent noodles and timpani…

July 5, 2011 at 08:11 | Posted in bicycles | Leave a comment
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At the weekend I was playing in a concert with the Lane Cove Concert Band. There was quite a lot of logistical effort involved, as I had managed to secure the use of a set of timpani (kettledrums) for the concert, but they had to be transported across Sydney to the concert venue.

Before you get too excited, dear reader, no, I did not therefore load them up onto the bike and pedal them across town – although I did spend some time wondering if it could be done. We took the more pragmatic solution of hiring a truck, although I did ride over to where they were stored, together with my trombone and perhaps even more importantly the cake I had baked the day before as my contribution to the interval refreshments.

I arrived a little earlier than the truck, so I had a cup of coffee whilst I was waiting, the bike working quite nicely as a table outside the bustling café . A few people did ask me about it, what I was carrying and so on. I think it was the cake that attracted their interest!

Once my friend arrived with the truck we loaded up the timpani with no problems. I locked up my bike and we went off in the truck for the concert. It went really well; the second half was the Gunnedah Brass and they were really quite spectacular. Well worth going to hear if you get the chance. There was prolonged applause, and then an encore, which started to cause a little consternation for us – the timps had to be back by 6pm as the place they are stored in was closing – and Gunnedah were still doing their encore at five forty!

The second the applause faded we rushed the four unwieldy drums out of the concert hall and onto the truck, and made a mad dash back across town. We got there with minutes to spare, and quickly unloaded them under the baleful eye of the supervisor on duty.

My original plan was to take all my stuff with the drums, and then cycle home again from there, but in the rush to get the timps on the truck I left my trombone and other paraphernalia at the concert hall. We went back there in the truck, and I put the bike in the back so that I could ride home from the concert venue instead. When we arrived, I handed the bike to someone, and they put it down on the grass. However, the handlebars had spun right round when they had put it down, and when I got it loaded up I found there was a problem with the front brake – it didn’t seem to be working. I quickly realised that in twisting the steering so far the noodle on the cantilever brakes had jammed up against the frame and been more or less folded in half. I pulled it back into shape, wincing as I saw the metal begin to fracture at the bend. Still, this at least got the brakes working, so I set off.

As I went along the road, another mechanical problem manifested itself. The rear mudguard started rubbing on the tyre. Very odd. I pulled it back into place, and continued, but for some reason every time I used the rear brake it seemed to cause the mudguard to once again start rubbing. I have no idea why this should be – I checked the rear wheel was fitted securely, and in any case if the wheel was shifting position under braking pressure then you’d expect the disc brake to start rubbing too.

All very strange; I limped home avoiding using the rear brake where possible, also aware that my front brake was dependent on a piece of fractured metal for continued operation. Still, I made it home safely – I guess I need to book the Radish in for a service…

TeeVee Snacks Original

July 3, 2011 at 11:32 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment
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Today we look at the Original TeeVee snacks, as opposed to the wafer version we looked at previously. They consist of small, crunchy biscuits covered in milk chocolate. The major excitement is that each biscuit is a different shape; there are dozens of different ones that defied all my attempts at categorisation.

I notice from the packet that the name ‘Tee Vee’ is trademarked. I wonder how far Arnott’s have gone to secure that trademark internationally; as it also appears to be the name of a Chinese manufacturing company that manufactures, amongst other things, beauty items, massagers and ‘battery operated items’. Hmmmm. I may never look at a TeeVee snack in the same way again.

For all that, they are quite nice; the biscuit is nothing special but they are quite chompable, and I can see that they would go down well whilst watching a movie or something. I’m going to give these a solid seven out of ten.


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