Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Art and Science of Biscuits?


This entry is somewhat different compared with my previous posts but I enjoy sharing my dining and cooking experiences as well as anything related to food! I came across the following passages on biscuits (or cookies in some regions) while reading Alain De Botton's recent work titled: "The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work." I certainly did not expect to learn much about food from such a book, talk about pleasant surprises! In addition to the making / baking of biscuits, it talks about the importance of branding and perhaps how branding is the key rather than the cooking itself. I have to agree to a certain extend how branding or a brand effects us psychologically when it comes to purchasing food items.

... the British spend £1.8 billion a year on biscuits, and that the market is technically divided into five categories: Everyday Biscuits, Everyday Treats, Seasonal Biscuits, Savoury Biscuits and Crackers & Crispbreads. [all the following brand names are under the management of United Biscuits] 

Everyday Biscuits, despite their lackluster name, account for nearly a third of all sales and include McVitie's Digestives, Rich Tea, Ginger Nuts and job Nobs. Everyday Treats, evenly poised between the ordinary and the indulgent, are typically bought on Thursday and Friday by women between thirty-five and forty-four and number among their rank Jaffa Cakes, Cadbury's Fingers and Fox's Chocolate Viennese. As for Seasonal Biscuits, they are marketed only between the start of October and the end of December and com in highly decorated tins that compromise combination of Cottage Crunch, Shortcakes, Shortbread finger and Chocolate Chips biscuits.

Much to the frustration of experts in both fields, Crackers and Crispbreads and Savoury Biscuits are routinely confused. To be clear, Crackers & Crispbreads are non-sweet biscuits intended to be eaten either part of a diet or as an accompaniment to cheese or a spread, while Savoury Biscuits are to be enjoyed on their own ... 

... Biscuits are nowadays a branch of psychology, not cooking ... in the hands of an experienced branding expert, decisions about width, shape, coating, packaging and name can furnish a biscuit with a personality as subtly and appropriately nuanced as that of a protagonist in a great novel. 

... biscuits need to be round rather than square, given the associations drawn in almost all cultures between the circle and the feminity and wholeness. It was similarly imperative that it contain small pieces of raisin and whole chocolate chips to convey an impression of kindly indulgence - though because it was not outright decadence which was being evoked, no cream would be involved.  

... designer's initial layout had had the word "Moments" [brand name of the biscuits] running in a romantic Edwardian script across the box, but there were concerns among some executives that this belied the product's projected function as a pleasant supplement to real life rather than a means of escape from it - an issue address by a last-minute change in the m and s to a more vertical orientation, as befitted a snack which respected the realities of life even as it offered temporary relief from them. 

Branding is more of an art and science that we perceived. We are often affected by the packaging and perhaps the brand names when we go shopping. It is good to understand that there are a lot of work and efforts that go into each product. However, it is for the same reason that many of us lost the focus on food itself; the meaning of food, the reason for food, the joy of eating and particularly the arts and science behind cooking. Nowadays, more often than not we are surrounded by advices or teachings on how to eat well, sometimes just to enjoy a meal the way you like it is the best way to go. A piece of medium rare char-grilled rib-eye steak does not require any special cut shape or brand names to make me crave for it, the same applies to fries and a dish of sweet and sour pork. What do you fancy tonight for dinner? Japanese Ramen? That is what I am craving for now and perhaps the joy of eating is something worth thinking about the next time you dine out, shop for food or in preparation for a home cooked meal. :)

Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Glad to know more about biscuits! and yeah to RAMEN :D

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