Tea and biscuits. Such a simple union. Everyone enjoys a cup of tea (or, if you’re more Progressive than Purist, coffee) and a wheat-based accompaniment makes it all the better.
So why was I standing in the supermarket biscuit aisle having a freak-out? Why was selecting biscuits to go with a cup of tea so complicated? Why was I sweating? Because I was buying biscuits for the Work Communal Biscuit Tin for the first time. Oh. God.
Ever tried to buy biscuits for people of varying ages, who may or may not like chocolate / wafers / raisins and who may or may not be allergic to nuts / food-colouring / marshmallows? Well, I now know it’s no easy task. The pressure to avoid buying the wrong thing and thus being responsible for ruining someone’s tea-break was almost crushing.
Husband suggested that on this occasion maybe I was over-thinking things. I
lectured reminded him about the wonders of tea and the time he once said to me “I wish I got as much out of tea as you do”. “Any old biscuit” was not a principle to apply here.
Giving me a look that had it been a physical gesture would have been a pat on the head, he said he’d “collect me” once the rest of the shopping was done. Erm, how long did he think I was going to be? Especially when I immediately spied –
Yes! Sliding foil-encased chocolate wafers out of smart red-and-white paper, smoothing the foil to reveal the Kit Kat logo before scoring it down the middle and snapping the fingers in two – remember when Nestle tried to take that away from us? The fools – they are a joy to open. And a delight to eat! Well that was easy…until I remembered there were already some in the tin. Dammit!
Mentally storing these for next time my eyes landed on –
Styled by McVitie’s as “The Nation’s Favourite Accompaniment To A Cup Of Tea” (snappy, eh?) I can’t shake the feeling that really, they’re the biscuit for the sick. Dispensed by the NHS to invalids and old people too ill to complain, and also to us kids as a ‘bedtime snack’ back in the 80’s, would these really be acceptable as a First Time Biscuit Contribution to my new work colleagues? Absolutely not. Same goes for Digestive’s poorer cousin, the Rich Tea (although I always liked these better).
Next for consideration were –
Tunnock’s Tea Cakes
Despite being retro beyond fault I considered these for less than a second. Tunnock’s biscuit products are described (by them) as “the nostalgic taste of Scotland”. Hmm. We never had them in our house and tea cakes have always tasted soft and out of date to me. Plus, their status as a Biscuit is questionable given that they can’t be dunked, and would be crushed in my bag.
I took a breath as my eyes roved through alternatives.
They still make those?
Female I may be, but I’m not a walking stereotype.
Manger’s Special at half price…but I don’t work with 5-year-olds!
Standing in front of this calorific rainbow, I saw my life pass before my eyes. The coloured wrappers, at first enticingly bright, were now a garish, menacing hue, like a bad acid trip, or any number of suits worn by Elton John. What would be a safe bet, designer enough to show I made an effort (ten minutes of sweating in front of sugar-and-wheat-based products would count as ‘effort’ on any view), but not too exotic that I would be setting an unattainable bench-mark for myself?
Just as I was about to inhale some Rescue Remedy and come at this again with fresh eyes, I saw, shimmering on the top shelf and flanked by On-Special-For-£1 signs, the Cadbury’s Biscuit range. Could they be the Shangri-La tea-accompaniment I was searching for? Would they assert my Communal Biscuit Tin involvement with confidence and surety?
I reached for the Cadbury’s Dairy Milk Biscuits and sure enough, the expensively-smooth packaging held the promise of designer chocolate biscuits within. A feeling of deep serenity washed over me. This was it.
But what if it wasn’t? What if no one liked them? Although confident my rite of passage into the tea-break consortium was assured, I reassured myself that I at least would eat them.
And the whole episode only took 20 minutes…