Hundreds and Thousands

March 1, 2011 at 21:24 | Posted in biscuits | 7 Comments
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When I was younger, we used to go to an Indian restaurant that did a ‘meal deal’ where you got a starter, main and dessert for some ridiculously cheap price. It was good too; perhaps tandoori chicken to start, then a beef rogan josh with rice to follow. Pudding was always the same though – a single scoop of vanilla ice cream, sprinkled with hundreds and thousands. Except there weren’t hundreds and thousands; usually you got three or four. Very occasionally five. We used to wonder about this; how painstakingly the staff must have taken a tiny pinch of hundreds and thousands from the pot to put on each dessert. No doubt a catering pack of them lasted the restaurant for years.

Arnott’s are not so frugal, however, on their ‘Hundreds and Thousands’ biscuits, as each biscuit has about three hundred of them sprinkled on each one, held in place by the thick pink icing. The back of the biscuit is given over to a wavy line pattern, a bit like a TV set that has gone on the blink.

The blue pack and cartoon graphics immediately alerts us that these are part of that range aimed at children. (Well, aimed at parents for their children, I suppose. As a public service announcement I feel I should point out that feeding sugary snacks to your kids is not recommended. I say that, although Baby Chillikebab is already eating marmalade on toast, and is only ten months old, so I daresay she’ll graduate to biscuits sooner rather than later.) The immediate thought here is that these are going to be very sugary and unexciting, although we’ve been surprised before.

Unfortunately, in this case, we were not surprised. They are very sugary and unexciting. The combination of the icing and the hundreds and thousands do make them quite crunchy, and they have quite a strong vanilla taste, which puts them ahead of the nasty Tic Toc.  But only a bit ahead. These get just three out of ten.


February 9, 2011 at 11:05 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment
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Gondolas. Gondoliers. Italian romance. Window blinds. Arnott’s have attempted to distill all of these into biscuit form in the Venetian, an iced fruit biscuit.

Somehow, you don’t get a good feeling about the Venetian from looking at the packet. It has something of the Monte Carlo about it; potentially rather overdone and try hard.

However, to sample a Venetian is to be pleasantly surprised. The fruit biscuit is crisp and moreish; the topping sweet but not overdone making the whole thing really rather good. It rather reminds me of a Johann Strauss waltz; actually much better than you expect; really quite skillful and not over sugary. Perhaps they should have been called ‘Viennese’, rather than ‘Venetian’.

A fine biscuit that deserves a solid eight out of ten.


Tic Toc

November 25, 2010 at 18:46 | Posted in biscuits | 5 Comments
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Arnott’s Tic Toc is a highly educative biscuit that featured clock faces set to different times. This means you can use them to teach your kids to tell the time whilst simultaneously rotting their teeth, which I suppose then means they get to their dentist appointment at the right time.

Clock faces aside, The biscuit itself is a fairly thin, plain affair made from flour, vegetable oil and sugar. They are iced in three different colours¬† – pink, yellow and white. The icing is applied in a fairly rough and ready way, and each colour tastes different. The yellow ones taste vaguely of banana flavour. (Note that’s not the same thing as ‘tastes of banana’; they actually taste nothing like bananas, but rather taste like things that are labelled ‘banana flavour’. If you know what I mean).¬† The pink ones have a hint of perfumed palma violets about them. The white ones seem to taste somewhat of banana flavour again, although I wonder if in fact they are plain but pick up the dominant banana flavour from the others in the pack. The icing is quite thick and crispy, and it’s clear that the biscuit is really just a medium to carry the icing. It’s even been suggested to me that you can eat away at the biscuit first, saving the icing until the end. Needless to say these biscuits are extremely sweet and artificial tasting and clearly not aimed at an adult palate.

The excitement starts, of course, when you turn them over and realise that they have clocks on the back, all set to different times. Here is the full selection from the review pack laid out. There are fourteen different times on offer, with ‘ten past eleven’ being the most common, followed by ‘twenty past eight’ and ‘two o’clock’.

I was wondering how these were made. My first thought was simply that there were a range of moulds with different times on them. However, I did start to wonder when more closely examining the ‘two o’clock’ version, as seen below.

Now, is it the case that Arnott’s have a mould for both ‘two o’clock’ and ‘almost two o’clock’? I suppose it’s possible, but seems a trifle odd. However, I then had the thought that perhaps the moulds have hands that can be moved, stamping out different times at the whim of the operator. If this is the case, it is quite splendid and a hallmark of Arnott’s biscuit innovation.

To sum up, them, there is a degree of entertainment to these biscuits which makes them interesting and innovative. However, ‘interesting and innovative’ does not necessarily mean ‘edible’, and as a biscuit these are actually not at all pleasant. Cloyingly sweet, artificial tasting and lacking structure. I’m afraid that these only merit a two out of ten.

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