The Digestive was first developed in the United Kingdom in 1839 by two Scottish doctors to aid digestion. Makers McVitie’s state the name ‘Digestive’ comes from the baking soda that was used in the production of the biscuits. It was presumed that it settled the stomach (thought this was never proven absolutely).
According to ‘The Foods of England project‘, an advert for ‘Digestive Biscuits’ in the Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser in 1829 claimed they had medicinal properties, it read:
“These biscuits, when genuine, and taken regularly by families, have the good property of keeping the body in a regular state, and in a great measure supersedes the necessity of having recourse to medicine.”
Digestive biscuits are the best-selling biscuit in the UK with 80 million packs sold annually. First manufactured by McVitie’s in 1892, the name McVitie derives from the original Scottish biscuit maker McVitie & Price Ltd, established in 1830 on Rose Street in Edinburgh, Scotland.
In 1925 the classic chocolate covered digestive was released. Bill Bryson- the American travel writer described the chocolate digestive as a “British masterpiece.” Over 71 million packets of McVitie’s chocolate digestives are eaten in the United Kingdom each year, equating to 52 biscuits per second.
The Joy of Dunking
A prominent feature in British culture, the digestive biscuit is ranked the fourth most popular biscuit for “dunking” with the humble chocolate digestive coming in at number one.
A survey of 3,000 people by One Poll on behalf of McVitie’s voted the ‘Chocolate Digestive’ the best biscuit to dunk into a cup of tea- beating Rich Tea which came in second. Two of McVitie’s other top-sellers HobNobs and Digestives came third and fourth with Chocolate Bourbons in fifth place. The Digestive also came top in a university study into the best ‘dunking’ biscuit.
A spokesman for the internet market research website www.onepoll.com that carried out the survey, said:
“Dunking a biscuit into a hot cup of tea is such a time-honoured tradition and the chocolate digestive wins hands down. Chocolate digestives won because their coating protected them from the effects of the hot tea. The biscuits can withstand at least eight seconds in a tea or coffee – and emerge almost as strong post-dunk as it was dry – compared to a mere three to four seconds ginger nuts and hobnobs. The combination of the melted chocolate coating and soggy underside makes the ultimate tea companion.”
Dunking Biscuits Constitutes Inappropriate Office Etiquette…
Nearly a quarter of the UK ‘dunk’ daily, with Newcastle, Belfast and London dunking most frequently.
More of us dunk our biscuits at work, even though dunking your biccy is frowned upon in the office reports Metro– particularly if done during meetings. The study by Mcvitie’s claims that one in five Brits disapprove of co-workers dunking mid-meeting, despite the fact that 71% of tea and biscuit consumes enjoy a soggy biscuit.
Do Biscuits actually taste better after dunking it in tea?
Scientist Dr Ian Fisk, an associate professor of food chemistry at the University of Nottingham conducted an experiment on the BBC 2 show ‘Inside the Factory’. Dr Fisk compared how many aromas were released while eating a dry biscuit to one that had been dunked in tea. The shows presenter Cherry Healey took part in an experiment which saw her eating biscuits with a tube inserted in her nose.
Speaking on the show, Dr Fisk explained that after dipping the biscuit in tea the aroma and taste compounds diffuse around the mouth and the nose much more efficiently. The test found that the dunked biscuit produced twice the number of aromas than the dry biscuit making it taste twice as good.
The Art of Dunking Biscuits
- The best strategy is a flat-on approach, biscuit-side down to minimise chocolate bleed into your tea or coffee and to maintain the chocolate layer as a crack-stopper.
2. The biscuit – held as you would a penny – should be removed in a smooth fluid motion with the dunked half swivelled, so that it is supported by the dry section of the biscuit, to reach your mouth first.
3. For other biscuits it is best to use a full, wide-brimmed cup of tea with a biscuit dunked at a shallow angle with the imprinted surface down. The art lies in the journey twixt cup and lip.
Top Ten Dunking Biscuits (via onepoll)
- Chocolate digestive
- Rich Tea
- Chocolate Bourbon
- Chocolate HobNob
- Chocolate chip cookies
- Custard Creams
- Ginger nut