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  • Writer's pictureGethin Thomas

Biscuits - The Chocolate Digestive

Originally published on Photoblog by Gethin Thomas DECEMBER. 07, 2020


[123-365] 6th. December 2020- I was watching a TV programme two nights ago and it was fascinating. A day in the life of a biscuit factory, the largest biscuit factory in the world. Says something about the state of TV shows at the moment. Some of the statistics were mind blowing but although I am a biscuit fan I don't think I am wholly to blame..........for those statistics.


It suddenly struck me like Einstein in his bath, Eureka, or was it Euripides? Turns out it was Archimedes, and I thought he was the one with the screw.


Eureka- "Eureka" comes from the Ancient Greek word εὕρηκα heúrēka, meaning "I have found (it)", which is the first person singular perfect indicative active of the verb εὑρίσκω heurískō "I find".


Now I know why I was not good at English. First person singular perfect indicative active, to describe one word? Anyway, I had found it. The perfect series of posts for a winter lockdown, biscuits.


There is an almost limitless supply, after all, we have the world's largest biscuit factory. Even with Brexit happening in about three weeks we at least have all the biscuits we can eat, who needs Olive Oil and Grapes or Pesto?


Home delivery groceries means I can select the delectable biscuit morsel I want to photograph from the comfort of my desk with a veritable cornucopia of sizes, shapes, colours, flavours and textures. We Brits are the world leaders in making and designing biscuits, and eating them. Biscuits are bought by 27 million households and eaten on 6 billion occasions a year, yes, just in Britain


One thing a lot of people will be surprised about is how far back certain types of biscuit go. The Digestive originated in Scotland at a time when fat and sugar were considered good for you so it was thought to be a health product. Thinking about it I'm not sure that view has changed much in Scotland. Of course in 1839 they were not coating it in chocolate, mainly because milk chocolate was not invented until 1876, otherwise of course they would have poured chocolate over it, even cocoa was a health food back then.


Today you can buy chocolate to pour over yourself too but I'll save that for another day.


In 1847 British chocolatier J.S. Fry and Sons created the first chocolate bar moulded from a paste made of sugar, chocolate liquor and cocoa butter. Swiss chocolatier Daniel Peter though is generally credited for adding dried milk powder to chocolate to create milk chocolate in 1876.


But we British pioneered pouring chocolate over things, why wouldn't you? Originally produced by McVitie's in 1925 in the UK as the Chocolate Homewheat Digestive, it is still going today, minus the Homewheat appelation.

A digestive biscuit averages around 70 calories, although this sometimes varies according to the factors involved in its production. So you can see the problem straight away, that's just not enough calories, enter the chocolate.


Some of you may have noticed my particular Chocolate Digestives are looking a bit worse for wear. This is one of the slight issues I have with environmentalism, pandemics and social distancing and lockdowns all of which contributed to the battering about that my biscuit of choice received.


Due to the Green Lobby activists and Extinction Rebellion and other end of the world cultists having staged a coup in the general media, we are not allowed to have our food delivered in a bag. Instead we receive all our goods left on the front step in a large green crate, there it is GREEN just to rub your nose in it. So you are watched by Darth Vader who has just stepped away from the cookies and desperately wants his GREEN crates back so this is now serious pressure. I grab things and throw them through the open front door and they are caught by my other half. This is a highly skilled manoeuvre. There are other valuables in there UNBAGGED like Woodford Reserve which MOH will be extremely tetchy about if they land on the stone floor. During this ludicrous gameshow of a delivery what happens? My pack of Chocolate Digestives slip from my rain sodden mits and roll down the steps in slow motion like the child in the pram in "The Untouchables", shattering their gorgeous chocolatey edges into dust. I watch in horror half expecting , maybe wishing that Kevin Costner will appear to rescue them before it is too late. But it is too late, I never did like Kevin Costner after all that dancing with wolves


Darth Vader just stands there his mask expressionless and a disembodied voice rasps deeply, "Sorry about that mate, I can take them back if you like".


I always knew Darth Vader was cruel but to threaten a man with removing his Chocolate Digestives, even dusty ones, just reaches new depths of inhumanity. Where is "The Force" when you need it.

In the UK, McVitie's digestive is the best selling biscuit, with 80 million packs sold annually. American travel writer Bill Bryson described the chocolate digestive as "a British masterpiece". In 2009, the McVitie's chocolate digestive was named as the most popular biscuit in the UK to dunk into tea. I will deal with dunking in a future biscuit post. Personally I can't imagine dunking with anything chocolate coated.


McVitie's digestive biscuits have become known among fans of the rock group The Beatles because they were the cause of an argument between George Harrison and John Lennon during a recording session for the group's 1969 album Abbey Road. The incident was recounted by recording engineer Geoff Emerick in his book Here, There, and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of The Beatles.


According to Emerick, Lennon's wife Yoko Ono ( Oh no! we all knew she was going to be involved didn't we?) was in the recording studio and at one point helped herself to Harrison's box of McVitie's while the Beatles were in the control room listening to a playback of the song they had just recorded. Harrison became angry at Ono, and his subsequent outburst caused Lennon to lose his temper in response.


If he'd spotted her illicit dipping into his McVities through the soundproof window she would have seen him silently mouthing the words "YOKO Noooohhh"

Back to Archimedes who was a mathematical genius and way ahead of his time. Apparently "he applied concepts of infinitesimals and the method of exhaustion to derive and rigorously prove a range of geometrical theorems, including: the area of a circle." So you see without him we could never have invented the Chocolate Digestive, they would not have been able to work out how much chocolate was needed..


"Archimedes died during the Siege of Syracuse, where he was killed by a Roman soldier despite orders that he should not be harmed." This is usually what happens when you are way ahead of your time. People don't like it.


Most of his great discoveries were made floating about in the bath and involved water displacement and volume and mass and hydrostatics etc. etc. yawn yawn. But here's a thought what if he had rented a pad which only had a shower? Where would we be then?


King Hiero II commissioned Archimedes to design a huge ship, the Syracusia, which could be used for luxury travel, carrying supplies, and as a naval warship. The Syracusia is said to have been the largest ship built in classical antiquity. According to Athenaeus, it was capable of carrying 600 people and included garden decorations, a gymnasium and a temple dedicated to the goddess Aphrodite among its facilities. So he even invented the idea of cruising.


Imagine what the all day World Buffet would have been like back then? Probably a lot less choice, I mean most of the world you see in a buffet now hadn't been discovered. There would probably just have been a lot of different pasta shapes covered in Olive Oil. Grapes, probably a lot of grapes and some fish, probably Pesto. There would have been no sign of chips, or tomatoes, peppers, chillies, rice, soy sauce, five spice, and no Tofu for the vegans, no allergy warnings about nuts, no iced water, Woodford Reserve, Chocolate Digestives? I rest my case, he was way ahead of his time.


Most of the facts were from Wikipedia and The History of Chocolate. The other rubbish is all copyrighted by me. You'll have to decide which is the rubbish and which is fact.



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