How to Eat: Biscuits

What’s the point of the fig roll? Club biscuits, are they biscuits? To dunk, or not to dunk? How to Eat turns on the kettle, sits down, and eats a biscuit or three biscuits. Tea with biscuitsWhat to Eat is the perfect place to address Britain’s food and beverage ritual. Get the kettle going, sit down, and get ready for a fight like you haven’t seen since Garibaldi fought the Bourbons.

Defining ‘biscuit’

The Jaffa cake is. This has been established in laws. Let’s leave it at that. I want to discuss Britain’s intuitive, shared understanding of a cookie. This understanding transcends technical descriptions (cakes become hard and crumbly when stale; biscuits are soft) and what is stacked erroneously in the supermarket’s biscuit aisle.

biscuit consists of flour, sugar, and fat baked in a form. It may be covered with chocolate or have a cream or jam filling sandwiched between two layers of the same.

* Fig rolls. When you were eight, your friend’s mother asked if you wanted a biscuit. She gave you a “fig roll,” and you thought, “What is this?” This still holds.

* Anything individually wrapped in chocolate and wholly covered, such as Clubs, Wagon Wheels, or Viscount. These are not biscuits. They’re either chocolate or biscuit bars. Not chocolate, but chocolate-based. Have you ever heard anyone say: “This Club is great, but it would be even better if there was a little less chocolat on it?” They haven’t. In this case, the biscuit is just a vessel for delivering chocolate. You nibble the chocolate off before reluctantly eating the cookie. You’ll soon be calling Twix, Kit Kats Time Outs, Tunnocks caramel wafers, and Tunnocks caramel wafers biscuits. They’re not. When you were growing, did your “biscuit boxes” include all these items? Do you know who you are? Spoiled.

* Oatcakes. Regarding Little Lord Fauntleroy, David Cameron said on Mumsnet that his favorite “biscuit” is an oatcake topped with butter and cheese. Dave, it’s cheese, not biscuits.

* Cookies. Interlopers from the US are significant, bold, and loud. Over here, they’re too sweet and dysfunctional. Why would I want random chocolate nuggets when I could have a uniform layer of chocolate evenly spread over the entire biscuit?

The most popular biscuits that are a mystery

* Rich Tea. Why would you do this to yourself unless you live in a monastic environment? Rich Tea is only consumed by those who are either a.) afraid of flavor or b.) in a painful stage of self-denial and delusional thinking. They are also notorious for being rubbish dunkers.

* Bourbons. What about cocoa and dark chocolates? What’s the difference between dark chocolate and cocoa? Seriously? All I get is a synthetic tang that’s indistinguishably cheap and dark.

* Jam rings. This should theoretically work, but the high-street versions are a pain: two crumbly pieces of biscuits encasing an unpleasantly chewy nugget.

* Hobnobs. This is a prime example of capitalism perpetuating itself by creating artificial demands for useless products. Was there a demand in the 1980s for a flapjack/digestive hybrid that was so sweet it sparkled with sugars? No. This OTT, bastardized cookie has now gripped the nation. Hobnobs are known for their drinkability. They can absorb moisture while maintaining their integrity. But bite into them, and you’ll find that dunking transforms the oats into a sickening, gritty slurry.

* Shortbread. Shortbread is only liked by the most patriotic Scots. It’s like Runrig. It’s like Rab C. Nesbitt. They are too rich, buttery, and dry. One-dimensional, but, except for that sugary coating, they’re sparse. Unpleasantly contradictory. And so claggy, eating just one (let alone three, see below) is easier after finishing your tea. No biscuit should need that much lubrication.

* Iced rings: Are you celebrating a child’s fifth birthday? No? What are they doing?


Sting enjoys tantric sex, and I have biscuits. It’s a blissful experience that should last as long as possible. There are two methods for dunking cookies (ginger snaps and digestives) and non-dunking biscuits like Oreo and custard cream.

Dunkers should follow a three-step procedure:

  1. Dunk half the biscuit and then suck/eat the dunked portion.
  2. Dunk the other half (a quarter) of the biscuit piece and eat it.
  3. Dunk the final triangle while pinching the corner.

You can dunk the biscuit, but lick the chocolate off at each step before eating it. You may over dip or apply too much pressure to your biscuit.

You must use your teeth to remove the first layer of sandwich biscuits carefully. Do not use a blade! Then, using your front teeth, carefully remove the first layer of the biscuit (do not use a knife! Nicely softened by your saliva. Heaven.

Notes about dunking

Some people consider dunking to be declasse and even rude. They are miserable and cold. Pity them. Only by dunk (obligatory Peter Kay link here ) can Britain’s two best biscuits – the ginger snap and the milk chocolate digest – be perfected. The ginger biscuit is transformed into a multi-layered sensory experience after dunking. It’s now soft outer flesh encases a core with a toffee texture and has a sharper, gingery taste. Chocolate digestives, on the other hand, transform from a dry, essential snack into a sweet embrace of molten cocoa and manly wholemeal huskiness. It is the ultimate British comfort snack when dipped in hot chocolate.

The maximum number of biscuits per sitting

Three. The second is an extension of the first. The arc of pleasure has plateaued by the third biscuit. Eating a fourth biscuit makes you feel sick, guilty, or soiled.

Time is a factor.

You can eat biscuits between meals if you want to ruin your appetite. These baked uppers are best eaten between 10:30-11.30am and 3:30-4.30pm or 9:30-11 pm.


It is essential (while you are dunking) that it be served in a wide-mouthed mug. If you are eating three biscuits, a pint-sized face would be ideal. After the first whistle-stopping slurp of tea, wait to drink until after you have finished dunking. This will dilute the biscuit flavor. After three biscuits, you must drink a pint of tea to quench your thirst and clear your palate.

If you have a mishap with dunking and accidentally drop a biscuit into your tea, immediately stop, put your biscuits aside, and start the kettle again. If you don’t, your “session” is ruined by that last disgusting mouthful. Some people say you can remove the rogue piece of biscuit, but it’s already disintegrating when you find a teaspoon. Your tea will also be ruined if you do not add sugar. Accept it and try again.


In my home, you do not have to remove your shoes; you can smoke a pipe and leave the toilet seat up. I don’t mind. We’ll have a word if you eat a biscuit on the street without a plate. You are not catching the crumbs with your hand. They look precarious on your mug’s rim. You are a barbarian; I have plenty of plates. Use one.

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