Fish and chips may be our national food, but when it comes to our favourite tea time treat, us Brits can’t resist the classic biscuit. Not even the jammiest doughnut, lightest cupcake or creamiest éclair can usurp this brilliantly simple treat, with the average British household chomping through 103 packs of biscuits per year.
But what is now our favourite accompaniment to a strong cuppa as we unwind in the afternoon, actually began as much simpler fare consisting of just four and water. These bland little discs were ideal for providing sustenance to hungry sailors and soldiers.
Eventually, someone realised that by aerating the flour and egg before baking gave you a more delicate treat (what we now know as sponge fingers) and thus the biscuit (French for twice-baked) was born. By the 19th century, afternoon tea was all the rage, and biscuits were the ideal dunker for your tea.
These days, we have a huge variety of biscuits available to us, not to mention all the ones we lovingly bake at home. It is thought that up to 93% of us eat at least one biscuit a day, with Manchester boasting the highest number of biscuit munchers.
When a Carlisle-based biscuit factory succumbed to flooding in December 2015, it nearly sparked a national crisis, with one biscuit devotee remarking: “The fact that you can't have a ginger nut with your cup of tea at the end of the night ... it's the end of the world, isn't it?"
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