Arnott’s Shapes – Meat Pie flavour

February 1, 2020 at 12:42 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment
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This is the other flavour in the new Arnott’s ‘Aussie legends’ range (we looked at the Sausage Sizzle ones a little while ago), and I suppose is another iconic Australian comestible. When we moved to Australia I recall going into a pie shop and being somewhat confused by the range on offer. Sure, there was Steak and Mushroom, Steak and Cheese, Chicken and Vegetable and all the rest, but the one at the top of the list was simply called ‘Plain Pie’. Plain? What was a plain pie, I wondered. So I bought one.

It was some sort of meat (I think beef), mostly minced, in a sort of thick gravy. It was salty, and not very nice. Clearly it is this type of pie that Arnott’s set out to celebrate with this new flavour, rather than any gourmet or specialty variety.

I know this because these new Meat Pie Shapes are disgusting. They are even worse that that plain pie. They are worse than that mass-produced, been-in-the-warmer-for-hours pie you get from the servo late at night when you are hungry on a drive, and that’s all there is and you buy it even though you know it won’t be very nice (and it isn’t). They are absolutely revolting.

I suppose if Arnott’s were setting out to celebrate just how low and just how nasty the meat pie can be in Australian culture, they have succeeded admirably. When you open the packet, the first thing you notice is the smell. It is horrible. AsI opened them, my whole family (at the other end of the kitchen) called out ‘what’s the horrible smell? Smells like dog treats.’ If you touch them, the smell gets onto your fingers, and is extremely hard to wash off. I washed my hands four or five times in the end, but that disgusting smell still lingered to my fingertips, making me heave if I brought them to my nose.

The flavour is nasty. Honestly, I can’t really make a clear assessment of how closely they resemble a meat pie in taste, as I was kind of gagging as I forced a few down for this review. Just accept that they are not nice at all.

I’m not the only one who thinks this, btw.

I think they might even be worse than this abomination from a few years ago. Just No, Arnott’s. No.

 

Arnott’s Shapes – sausage sizzle flavour

January 15, 2020 at 20:29 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment

Ahhh, The sausage sizzle. Such an iconic Australian thing. On the approach to almost any supermarket, DIY store or school event you can start to smell it; the burnt grease, cheap meat and frying onion aroma. Then it comes into view; a bunch of burly men burning sausages on a large, flat BBQ with the women put to work taking gold coin donations, pointing people towards the sauce bottles and shouting ‘two with onions’ to the men behind them.

It is, without doubt, Australia’s national dish. A sausage (or ‘snag’), on a slice of white bread, with onions on the top, with either tomato or ideally BBQ sauce. You might also have American-style mustard on it, but this is considered a bit avante-guarde and suspicious. If it’s a really posh sizzle they might even give you a bread roll – not a hot-dog roll though (goodness, NO), but a Vietnamese crusty roll from a local baker. This roll, of offered, is undoubtedly the best part of the whole assemblage. But the true-blue Aussie will prefer a soggy slice of white bread every time.

Australian’s take the sausage sizzle extremely seriously. One only has to look at opposition leader Bill Shorten’s faux-pas with a sausage to understand how he lost the ‘unloseable’ election in a shock defeat, never having regained the nation’s trust after that event. National DIY chain Bunnings caused outrage and boycotts when they suggested the onions should be placed underneath the sausage (sacrilege!). Even a relative benign suggestion from a top Aussie chef Adam Liaw on how to make the bread fit better caused online outrage.

And so it is into these shark-infested waters Arnott’s boldly tread with their ‘Sausage Sizzle’ range of Shapes biscuits. I guess they are emboldened by the success of their Vegemite shapes, which are truly terrific, and are scouring other Australiana to exploit. (There’s also a Meat Pie flavour that I will come to in due course).

The box features the iconic comestible. They’ve avoided the obvious tripwires – the sausage is diagonal, it is on a regular slice of white bread, the onions are on top, it has BBQ sauce. Yet I’m a bit suspicious about that BBQ sauce. A wavy line piped on top of the sausage? Seems a bit fancy to me. Everyone knows you just squirt it along the edge of the sausage. I hope Arnott’s are equipped to deal with the backlash. #saucegate

Anyway, what do they taste like? To be honest, it’s not a bad representation, in taste terms, of the sausage sizzle. Their taste teams have really done a first-class job here; there is sausage, onion and a hint of sweet sauce to be made out, which is quite remarkable. It’s not quite up to WIlly Wonka standards, but it’s pretty good.

Yet somehow this doesn’t work. I think it is the mismatch between the texture and the taste. A sausage sizzle is soft and pappy. These are crunchy biscuits. There’s a cognitive dissonance there which I couldn’t quite get over. So they are OK, but somehow not great. I’m going to give them six out of ten, with a bonus point for flavour ingenuity.

Postscript

I almost forgot – these shapes also have Tasmania flavoured ones in there. When they launched the Vegemite version, Arnott’s were desperately trying to court controversy (or perhaps head one off) with some half-baked campaign around Tassie being missing from the biscuit shape (Tasmania is, for international readers, an island somewhere down near Antarctica that is apparently part of Australia). As far as I know this attempt to spark attention on social media utterly failed, but they are still flogging it, this time by including Tasmania. Give it up, guys. No-one cares.

 

Arnott’s Ginger Nut Dark Chocolate

August 27, 2019 at 17:49 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment

Arnott’s use peerless chocolate in their biscuits. They make it themselves, and it is really good – especially the dark chocolate. The rich enrobing of a Mint Slice, for example, is magnificent.

Arnott’s have experimented with some quite thick chocolate in the past; so much so that the biscuit almost becomes secondary. So I suppose it is kind of the next logical step to reduce the biscuit content so much that you actually end up with a bar of chocolate with bits of biscuit in it.

And this is what Arnott’s have done. They have made a bar of chocolate with the crumbs from the Ginger Nut production line swept into it.┬áThere are two burning questions this begs. The first is what it tastes like. The second is which type of Ginger Nut they have used.

The first question is easy to answer. It tastes amazing. This is really really good – the rich dark chocolate, the warmth of the ginger and the slight crunch of the biscuit pieces. come together to make a very harmonious experience.

The second question is harder, but after a good deal of forensic examination and micro-excavation, I am pretty confident that it is the NSW ginger nut that features in this confection.

Now, I am aware that this is hardly a biscuit. I mean we’ve pushed the envelope before, but please let me know if this is a step too far, and I will retreat. Alternatively, if you’d like me to look at the rest of the range (including the rather intriguing prospect of chocolate with Jatz in them) I will do so!

 

Arnott’s Iced Vovo Sponge Cake

May 14, 2019 at 10:58 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment
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OK, I’m sorry. This is definitely not a biscuit. (Or a book, or a bicycle, for that matter). It’s a cake. A cake made by Arnott’s and ‘inspired’ by the Iced VoVo. Who knew Arnott’s made cakes? Well, actually I’ve known it for a while, as you can see from the best before date on the packet in the picture. But I only just remembered about it.

I’m not sure what I think about this, to be honest. Mrs Chillikebab did once make a very large Iced VoVo cake for a friend’s birthday; however the power of the google does not extend to me finding a picture of it (although it did unearth pretty much every birthday cake I have ever made for the kids’ birthdays.)

These cakes are a sweet as you would expect a shop-bought cake to be, and don’t look as appetising in real life as on the picture. Biscuits are one thing, but if you want a cake, then I recommend you make one. They are really not hard. You will make a better cake than these.

I’m going to give them a 2 out of 10.

Arnott’s Choc Malt and Sticky Caramel Tim Tam Slam

April 23, 2019 at 08:57 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment
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tim tam slam 3 packWell, here we go with the final installment of out Tim Tam Slam reviews, with the last one in the range. (You can read the others here and here, including a description of how to perform a Tim Tam Slam).

It’s probably worth noting at this point that this whole range as just half a star health rating. This whole health rating system is of course a complete nonsense, but it’s nice to see that something unashamedly bad for you rated so low. This way you know it’s going to be good.

tim tam slam 3 biscuitAnd these ones are good. They are the best of the bunch. Rich and malty, with a smooth caramel. It’s a bit like Milo in a bar – but better. Again, I’m not sure the Slamming aspect is particularly enhanced, but good on Arnott’s for celebrating this more Australian of rituals in this new range.

I’m going to give these ones an eight out of ten. Arnott’s seem to be on a roll at the moment. Keep up the good work, guys…

Arnott’s Dark Choc and Sticky Raspberry Tim Tam Slam

April 1, 2019 at 16:58 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment
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tim tam slam cherry biscuitSo today, we move on to the next in the Tim Tam Slam range – Dark Choc and Sticky Raspberry Flavour. They are certainly going to town with the long names for this range – it causes all kinds of problems with the page title going onto two lines. I must remind Arnott’s to avoid this in future.

If you don’t know what a Tim Tam Slam is, then you should read my post about the Choc Hazelnut and Gooey Caramel Flavour. I’m not going to repeat it here. Hopefully since them you have been practicing, and can undertake The Slam with aplomb.

tim tam cherryI was immediately hopeful about this flavour. Dark Chocolate is always a cut above milk, in my humble opinion. But then I was also somewhat suspicious about the ‘Choc’. ‘Choc’ can mean some sort of fake chocolate, rather than the normal high quality chocolate that Arnott’s for the most part use (with the execrable Tim Tam White being the dishonourable exception). Thankfully here real chocolate is in evidence; I presume that with the already inflated character count in the name there really wasn’t room on the pack for ‘Chocolate’.

Once again, I didn’t feel these slammed any differently or better than regular Tim Tams, but they were actually quite nice. Bit of a tang to the raspberry, nice rich chocolate. I also quite liked the dual-textured filling – the raspberry creme contrasted with the softer jam.

These are pretty good. I’m going to give them a seven out of ten. Just one more flavour to go – will it continue to improve, I wonder?

Arnott’s Choc Hazelnut and Gooey Caramel Tim Tam Slam

March 26, 2019 at 14:27 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment
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tim tam slam packThere are new Tim Tams from Arnotts! How exciting. They are a new rage specifically designed for ‘slamming’.

What is the Tim Tam Slam, I hear you ask? Well, let me explain the correct way to do it. (And this is the correct way, by the way. If you read, see or hear differently then you should take it upon yourself to correct any misapprehensions).

First, you bite off the two ends of the biscuit, taking off as little biscuit as possible to expose the biscuit and filling at each end. (Not the corners, not just the chocolate. You need to take off 1-2mm of biscuit from each of the shorter sides).

Next, take a hot cup or tea or coffee (it doesn’t matter which; this is according to taste, although hot chocolate or Milo are frowned upon). Dip one end of the Tim Tam a few millimetres into the hot beverage, and place the other end between the lips, leaving the beverage on the table (so you are bending down over the cup). Quickly suck up the hot liquid, using the Tim Tam as the straw.

As soon as you feel the hot liquid reach the top of the biscuit (and you need to move fast here), grip the biscuit between your lips and / or teeth, and raise your head. Continue putting your head back, until the biscuit is pointing at the ceiling. You should not be holding it with your fingers at this point.

Now, using your tongue, allow the biscuit to slowly slide into your mouth. The effect for the viewer should be that it slowly disappears from view, sinking into your head like a sinking thing.

Close your mouth, put your head to a normal position and finish chewing the biscuit, enjoying the hot, softened confection. It is best to transfix your audience with a wild stare at this point, before breaking into a satisfied smile as you finish your Tim Tam. (The absolute master of this art, and the person I learned from, is my mate Ian. He elevates Tim Tam Slamming into an art form. Next time I’m up in QLD I’ll get him to demonstrate in a video).

tim tam slam biscuitAnyway, it seems that Arnott’s are celebrating this ritual by creating a range if Tim Tams optimised for slamming. There are three in the range, and the first one we will be looking at is the Choc Hazelnut and Gooey Caramel Flavour (which also wins a prize for the longest name for a biscuit ever).

Arnott’s seem to have attempted to engineer these biscuits with a softer strip of filing up the middle that works as a ‘straw’, with regular creme filling either side. Whilst they slammed quite satisfactorily, to be honest they were no more effective at this than a regular Tim Tam.

The flavour, though, is not quite there. It’s a bit sweet; the hazelnut is fighting with the caramel and it somehow doesn’t quite work all together. It’s not a bad Tim Tam, but not a classic. I’m going to give it a five out of ten. Perhaps the others in the range will be better?

Arnott’s Vita-Weat Cracker Chips

March 12, 2019 at 09:45 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment

vita weat chips boxLook, I know. These really aren’t a biscuit. They are a chip. But they are a chip made out of a biscuit. You get Vita-Weats, and then you crush them up, form them into chips and cook them. Or something like that.

They come in individual packets, for snacking – ideal for lunchboxes I suppose. Seven packs per box. Ahh, Arnott’s do love their prime numbers. A numerologist would have a field day at Arnott’s HQ, I feel.

vita weat chips

So, how does this sort of cross over thing work? Well, not all that well, to be honest. They are rather dry, rather tasteless and rather hard in texture. They are better for dipping, but then that’s a bit odd as they come in little packets, and it seems weird to open a load of little packets to put them in a bowl and put them out with some dip.

So I’m going to give these rather unfortunate cross-over hybrids a three out of ten. If you want a savoury snack, there are much much much better options…

 

Arnott’s Vegemite and Cheese Shapes

March 9, 2019 at 09:25 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment

shapesboxThis, ladies and gentlemen, is what redemption looks like. This is genius. Superlatives fail me.

You may remember the shapes debacle. New flavours that were revolting, backlash, back pedaling, PR disaster and finally back to how it was before, but with a tarnished brand.

Well, those folks at Arnott’s have clearly done a lot of soul-searching and late night recipe development because Shapes are BACK. Oh yeah.

These are amazing. They are hands-down the best Shapes EVER. I would go as far as to say they are Arnott’s finest savoury biscuit (yes, I know it’s sort of actually a snack, but who cares). They are better than Cheds. And that is high praise.

shapesbiscuitCrunchy biscuit. That glorious umami of the Vegemite, the richness of the cheese. Like WIlly Wonka’s amazing chewing gum, it’s like you are actually eating Vegemite and Cheese on a cracker.

They are moreish. Very moreish. Eating a whole box of Shapes is not that hard. But with these, when you finish one box, you will reach for another. And another.

I’m going all out with a ten out of ten for these. Glorious. Oh, and did I mention that they are Australia-shaped?

 

Arnott’s Tiny Teddy Cheesy Crackers

July 23, 2018 at 21:31 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment
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There is a definite phenomenon in my life that when I like something, they stop making it. It all started with ‘All Butter Crunch’, an own-brand biscuit from the UK supermarket Sainsburys. It was a feature of my youth – all the elder Chillikebab clan loved them. In some ways, my passion for biscuits perhaps stems from that one sweetmeat, fondly remembered from when I was eight years old. And then they stopped making it. (The same thing happened with Coffee and Walnut Angel Delight, I recall).

More recently, they stopped making Cheesy Stars. These were a star-shaped cheesy snack that you could buy in Coles. They were quite a feature in the contemporary Chillikebab household – especially by Mrs Chillikebab, who loved them, ploughing through packs ostensibly bought for the kids lunchboxes. Anyway, they stopped making those too. But never fear, dear friends, for into that breach has stepped Arnott’s, with a re-imagining of the Tiny Teddy into a whole new dimension.

Yes, savoury Tiny Teddies. Who would have thought? They are cheesy, and crackery. This brings a whole new level of chompability to the genre – they have an excellent crunch, and a good salty, cheesy flavour. We like them. Not quite as much as cheesy stars, but almost. I wonder if Arnott’s are planning any over savoury cross-overs? Other than the famous cheese Tim Tam, of course.

I’m going to give these an eight out of ten.

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