Why we all love a biscuit
As a nation Great Britain is one of the world’s largest consumers of biscuits. Here at UKVending we love biscuits too and we also know that some of the best biscuits in the world are manufactured here in the United Kingdom, but few people know of the long and impressive history of biscuits. For example, what is the link between the residents of Liverpool and the history of biscuits?
According to research conducted in 2019 by research company Kantar in April, May and June 2019 we in the UK spent a whopping £19 million on biscuits. Even more was spent in 2020 as the Corona Virus pandemic spread across the country and we all spent more time at home in front of the television with a cup of tea and a nice few biscuits.
Biscuits have an exceptionally long history possibly as far back at Neolithic times, but historically they can be traced back to the Romans, who ‘panis biscotus’ comprised of bread twice baked to make it crisp and last longer.
The earliest surviving biscuit dates from 1784 and is a ‘ship’s biscuit’, a type notorious for its brick like qualities. Ships biscuits were given to sailors as part of their rations but proved to be quite inedible. Some sailors even used their biscuits as postcards sending them via the mail back home.
So, what is the link between biscuits and Liverpool? Well sailors from the city used to soak their biscuits in beer as a base for a stew called ‘Lobscouse’, something that caught on among the poor around Liverpool docks and is the reason that today residents of Liverpool are known as ‘Scousers’.
In 1911, Captain Scott took biscuits with him on his expedition to the Antarctic manufactured by Huntley and Palmers. The good captain wrote a letter of recommendation back from the South Pole. “I am of the opinion that no better biscuits could be made for travelling purposes. I consider that they especially meet the requirement of Polar work in their hardness, food value and palatability.”
A few weeks later a packet of these biscuits were found alongside Captain Scott’s frozen body. The same pack would eventually go up for auction at Christies and be sold for £4000 in 1999.