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.

Arnott’s Cheeseboard cracker assortment

December 29, 2017 at 17:08 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment
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Christmas. Cheese. Those two words are intimately associated in my mind. When I was growing up, Christmas was that time of year when the fridge was piled high with more then just the usual economy Cheddar or Cheshire – delights such as mellow Stilton, rich Camembert, tangy Danish Blue. Later other more exotic offerings were also included – Shropshire Blue, Stinking Bishop, soft goats cheese. Mmmmmm. And, being Christmas, you were allowed to eat it – normal rationing was suspended for the festive period.

This is a tradition that Mrs Chillikebab happily has adopted, so as I speak the fridge is groaning with a cornucopia of cheesy delights. And to go with such a feast, you need crackers.

Arnott’s to the rescue – or more specifically, the Arnott’s Cheeseboard Assortment to the rescue. So how does this selection work out? Is it a worthy partner to my festive cheeseboard?

The selection features six different crackers – Sesame Wheat Cracker, Water Cracker, Harvest Wheat Cracker, Sesame Water Cracker, Stoneground Cracker and Entertaining Cracker.

Keen followers of either this blog, or Arnott’s biscuits (or perhaps both) will immediately realise that most of these crackers are not ones you can actually buy on their own. It’s a bit odd. ‘Entertaining Cracker’, but not Savoy or Jatz? ‘Harvest Wheat’, but not ‘Country Cheese‘? ‘Stoneground’, but not ‘Multigrain‘? Indeed, the only bone fide variety from the main range is the water cracker – probably the most boring one of the lot.

When Arnott’s make sweet biscuit selections, they include ‘all your favourites‘. But here, it seems they have taken a different approach. Rather  that giving a selection from their rather wonderful range of crackers and savoury biscuits, they seem to have baked some lower-quality alternatives and served them up all together the hope we won’t notice.

Boo, hiss, Arnott’s. These are not up to your normal standards. They are dry, flavourless, lacking in texture and boring. I’m going to give them a three out of ten. This is not worthy of accompanying my cheeseboard.

Oh, and ‘Entertaining Cracker’ is a terrible name. And it isn’t.

Shapes – Cheese and Bacon (New)

November 5, 2016 at 19:37 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment
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arnott's shapes bacon and cheese flavourThere’s an old saying amongst chefs; if you want to give something that is otherwise a bit bland instant appeal, simply add cheese and bacon. There’s something magic about that combination of fat, protein and salt that is just irresistible. But do Arnott’s capture this irresistibility with the Cheese and Bacon shapes?

Of course, the controversy is still still raging about the ‘new’ Arnott’s Shapes. I covered this new Shapes debacle last time when I looked at the Barbecue flavour. Almost half a year on, the backlash continues; social media is still alight with negativity about the new flavours, and Arnott’s have actually had to re-introduce the original Pizza flavour in an attempt to prevent street riots and the like.

Cheese and Bacon is not a flavour I have previously tried, so I have no idea what the original ones tasted like. So in one way this is a kind of more pure review, untarnished by sentimentality.

The biscuits themselves are dusted with flavouring, and appear to have flecks of bacon embedded in them. With no bacon listed in the ingredients, however, I’m fairly confident these are just coloured bits of – something. Perhaps it’s best not to ask too many questions.

And they taste sort of cheese and bacony. Salty, cheesy, savoury. Not too sweet (a fault which bedevilled the new Barbecue flavour). Nice texture. Not a classic, but pretty good. Suitable moreish. So for these at least, I’m going to give the new flavour a thumbs up with a creditable five out of ten. Those with experience of the original Cheese and Bacon can unload below in the comments…

Arnott’s Vita Weat Multigrain

November 18, 2015 at 21:05 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment
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vita weat packI had to double check that I hadn’t already looked at the mainstay of the Arnott’s savoury cracker range, but it seems it has been thus far overlooked. Or perhaps I had thought about it, but always struggled.

You see, there’s really nothing whatsoever to say about these biscuits. You see that picture of them, a bit lower down? Well, they taste exactly as you expect from looking at that picture. They are plain crackers, perfectly nice with some cheese, with a few grains in them to add texture. They taste like, erm, plain crackers with some grains in them.

vita weat biscuitOh dear, this isn’t going too well, is it? I mean, I do have some standards, and a minimum word count is one of them. After all, you are paying to read this, and you expect at least something for your money.

The only other vaguely interesting thing I can say about these is that Girl Chillikebab #2 liked the box, and stuck a load of glitter, ribbons, cotton wool and coloured paper to it before announcing she had made it into a marshmallow machine. Fully working, I might add. That is if you like imaginary marshmallows.

I’m going to give these really quite nice crackers a seven out of ten, but then subtract a penalty point for being boring.


Arnott’s Savoy

October 6, 2015 at 13:02 | Posted in biscuits | 1 Comment
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savoy box arnottsSavoy. When I hear that word, I immediately think of the posh hotel in London, probably because I used to live there. (London, that is, not the Savoy).

When Google hears the word Savoy, it thinks of a cultural region in France. I’m not exactly sure what a ‘cultural region’ is, but I sense there are not many of them in Sydney.

When those oh-so-uncultured Sydneysiders see a pack of Savoy, though, I sense they think ‘Jatz’. Because, you see, they bear an uncanny resemblance to the Jatz biscuit. Even the packet is identical, right down to the piece of cheese.

Actually, they are not quite identical. The Savoy pack has the biscuits every so slightly lighter in colour, like they have been over-exposed; perhaps printed at an inferior print-shop.

But what of the Savoy biscuit? It is the same as the Jatz?

Well, dear readers, I can reveal that they are not the same. Not quite. You see, it’s one of those regional things, a bit like the Ginger Nut. Savoys hail from Victoria, where they were baked by Brockhoff. Arnott’s merged with Brockhoff back in the 1960s, but kept the Savoy recipe and name. For this reason, you’ll find mostly Savoys in Victoria, and Jatz in NSW.

savoy biscuitI guess it’s now all in the past, but I do suspect some sort of 1960s shenanigans with all this. Which came first, the Savoy or the Jatz? Well, my extensive research indicates it was the Savoy. Which I think means Arnott’s must have blatantly tried to copy them when they created the Jatz. I mean, look, even the packet looks the same! Even Aldi wouldn’t be so bold. Perhaps they had to buy Brockhoff simply to close off any possible litigation by the former.

Anyway, enough of all that ancient history. What do they taste like? Well, rather like the Jatz, I suppose. They are a tiny bit crunchier, with a bit more ‘snap’, and yes, they are a bit paler in colour. So that pack artwork is quite correct.

They are also a bit saltier, and a bit less sweet. Indeed, checking the ingredients, we find more salt in the Savoy, and more sugar in the Jatz. Holding to the general rule that anything white and crystalline is probably going to kill you, albeit after you’ve enjoyed the experience it offers, both salt and sugar come with some caveats.

According to this learned Professor, salt is going to lead to heart attack and stroke, whilst according to this learned Doctor, sugar is going to lead to liver disease and diabetes. So I guess you could take your pick from those, and choose the Savoy or the Jatz accordingly. Or just take the ‘everything in moderation’ approach, and have some of each. That’s what I do, including doing the ‘moderation’ bit in strict moderation.

So if you usually eat Jatz, try some Savoys for a change. And if you’re a Savoy habitual, branch out with a Jatz. That way, we can all stay healthy, and also support the multitude of almost-the-same-but-different product lines that Arnott’s do so well.

I’m going to give them an eight out of ten, making it an honourable draw with the Jatz.

Arnott’s Shapes – Cheddar

September 1, 2015 at 17:28 | Posted in biscuits | 1 Comment
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arnotts shapes cheddar boxIt’s been a while since we had a savoury biscuit review, so when a packet of Cheddar Shapes happened into the Chillikebab kitchen I thought it might be worth a look at.

They are small, rectangle biscuits, quite crunchy, sprinkled with cheesy flavour.

Hmm, not sure there’s much more to say really. So instead, let me draw your attention to another cheesy change. I still eat a lot of Cheds, and back in 2012 when i reviewed them, the pack clearly stated ‘a crisp cracker with a baked on cheddar cheese flavour

arnotts shapes cheddar biscuitAt some point, however, that changed, and it now reads ‘a delicious real cheddar cracker, sprinkled with pecorino cheese and oven baked until crisp’. Pecorino cheese, eh? Now, I eat a lot of these biscuits, and I’m pretty confident that the recipe hasn’t changed. Was there always pecorino cheese in there? Did someone just realise, and decide the sex up the marketing? The ingredients just say ‘cheese (16%)‘. Which, I have to say, is a pretty good percentage. Cheddar Shapes can only muster up 14%. Although how much of that is actually cheddar is open to conjecture.

I’m going to give these a five out of ten.

Lunch Slices

July 17, 2013 at 20:25 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment
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lunch slices packWe continue our odyssey into the Arnott’s savour biscuit range with a look at the Lunch Slice. These come in a couple of different types but it was the poppy, sunflower and rye version that arrived on my desk one slow lunchtime. So how would they go? Would my lunch be a symphony of glorious slices, or something more mundane?

It’s worth noting that these biscuits are quite big – perhaps 10cm square. You get two individually wrapped packs in each box – so you can keep half the pack fresh for lunch another day. I tried them loaded up with sliced tomato and cheese, as well as au naturel.

lunchslicesbiscuitThey were actually pretty good. Structural integrity was excellent, which means you can take a bite out of the biscuit without the remainder splintering into pieces and depositing tomato slices on your clean shirt. They handled the tomato test well too, without a hint of sogginess from the tomato juice marring the texture.

And they taste OK to. With a topping they actually are pretty good; when eaten on their own they have a hint of ‘burnt cooking oil’ about them – perhaps from the sunflower seeds. It’s not overpowering though, and you can actually just eat them alone as a fairly satisfactory snack.

The only disappointing thing about them is the ‘Vita-Weat’ branding. Usually Arnott’s are very good about this kind of thing, but in this instance they seem to have omitted the ‘h’ out of ‘wheat’. Perhaps their spell-checker was broken on the day they designed the packet.

I’m sure I’ll have them again – I’m going to give them a six out of ten.


Country Cheese

February 13, 2013 at 19:55 | Posted in biscuits | 1 Comment
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Arnott's country cheese packSome time ago, I posed the question ‘Should I write more savoury biscuit reviews?’. Well, the results have been flooding in at a rate approaching one a week, such that I now have a statistically valid sample to judge the issue from. cheesy graphsAnd so <drumroll>, I can reveal that yes, you pretty much overwhelmingly voted for more cheesy reviews. This is excellent news, as it gives me a rich new vein to mine in my search for superlative adjectives and mixed metaphors.

So what’s up today? Well, today it is the ‘Country Cheese’. Like many of Arnott’s savoury biscuits, they are packaged up in a smart dark-blue box. Why only cheesy biscuits get this treatment, I don’t know – there are plenty of fragile sweet biscuits that would benefit from this packaging. The other intriguing thing about the savoury range is that the packs feature actual photography, which apparently requires the ‘serving suggestion’ disclaimer. Do people really believe that the box will also house a wooden board, a tiny bit of spring onion and some blurry cheddar? And are people who think that capable of reading the words ‘serving suggestion’? Or is it that this is actually how Arnott’s recommend you serve them, and across the land people are propping them up on little bits of onion in an oh-so-sophisticated way? All very strange.

One thing I will say about the pack photography though; that is a very small wooden board and a tiny piece of onion. And that bit of cheese in the background? Just a fragment that broke away from the main block. You see, the photo looks to me as if these biscuits are going to be quite large, perhaps packed flat with a plastic tray insert. But in reality they are packed in conventional end-on manner, and measure only 81mm by 44mm. The one on the box measures 73mm by 54mm, so either there is some very weird parallax error going on, or the ‘serving suggestion’ extends to carefully shaving the end of each biscuit to make them shorter, prior to giving your guests magnifying glasses that make everything look ten percent bigger.

Arnott's country cheese biscuitEnough of all of that – how to they taste? Well, they are light and crunchy with a pleasing crumbly texture. They have a certain cheese flavour, although it is fairly muted, and perhaps equally strongly present are notes of malt and vegemite. They are quite pleasant to eat on their own, but strangely get a bit sickly after a few of them. Funnily enough they don’t go very well with cheese. I tried them with all sorts of things, from the cheddar suggested on the box through to a soft rind Brie and even a robust Stilton, but nothing really worked that well – the flavours of the biscuit just fight too hard against the cheese. Such is the nature of country folk, so I suppose the name should give ample warning.

I’m going to give these a five out of ten.


December 30, 2012 at 17:27 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment
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Arnott's Jatz  boxChristmas. A time of good cheer, over-excited kids and, in our house at least, cheese. All sorts of cheese bulging out of the cheese box – blue veined, soft rinded, hard crumbly. Maybe it’s just us, but we always overdo the cheese.

Still, that at least gives me a chance to test some cheesy biscuits – and I’m going to start with the Arnott’s Jatz. The Jatz is a small round cracker that comes in a smart box, and is to all intents and purposes exactly the same as the Arnott’s Savoy, which comes in an identical box (and before the pedants jump in, yes, I know they are different – the Savoy has golden syrup vs malt extract in the Jatz. But still, to have two such similar lines in similar packaging is really the kind of thing only Arnott’s would do. We’ll return to the Savoy at some point in the future).

arnott's jatz biscuitThe Jatz is a small, round cracker with a sprinkling of salt on the top. This salt, together with the slightly sweet, crispy biscuit, makes them very munchable even without cheese. I’m a big fan of such snackable cheesy biscuits. In terms of cheese pairings, I suggest a soft cheese with chives, or perhaps a creamy blue. Yum. You get a good serve of Jatzs in the box, but it’s quite easy to much through the lot. Even my young daughter agrees, carefully selecting the last few Jatz from the cheese biscuit barrel whilst eschewing the rest.

The Jatz is a solid contender for Arnott’s. Highly snackable, tasty, moreish and good both with cheese and without. I like them, and am going to give them an eight out of ten.

Merry Christmas!


December 9, 2012 at 11:09 | Posted in biscuits | 1 Comment
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sao biscuit packetWhy is a Sao (or ‘SAO’, as it is written on the packet) called Sao? Does it have anything to do with the mysterious Catherine Sao? Is it a reference to the Salvation Army? Myths and legends abound, but the real history is shrouded in the depths of the disappearing ‘SAO’ page from Arnott’s website.

sao biscuitSo what is a SAO? Well, it’s a cream cracker, plain and simple. Cream Crackers were invented by Mr Jacob in 1885, so it’s a bit of a stretch to call the SAO ‘the original’, even if it does hark back to 1906. Cream crackers, of course, have no cream in them – but apparently trading standards were more lax in 1885 and you could get away with that kind of thing. They are quite airy, dry biscuits that really do need a topping on them – ideally something with some moisture. A plain SAO is a dry affair, indeed I have vague recollections of competitions to eat such a biscuit, plain, with no water, as fast as possible. It’s not as easy as it sounds, let me tell you, even for an accomplished biscuit eater such as myself.

I have now put such juvenile pursuits behind me, and enjoy my SAOs topped with cream cheese, avocado, tomato slices and the like. When partnered with such luscious ingredients, the SAO is very agreeable, although the preparation time does really move it away from the ‘snack’ genre and closer to ‘meal’.

I’m going to give the SAO five out of ten.

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